The 3 Most Common Heating Systems Explained

Heating and cooling service

With winter coming up, it’s a good time to review how your heating system works, as well as how efficient it is. Here are three of the most popular types of heating units, as well as some of their pros and cons:

  1. Gas Furnaces

    Most frequently, gas furnaces are used with forced air systems. This means that air is heated using a furnace and then distributed through ductwork and out of registers in each room. The greatest advantage of this system is that the ductwork can be used for both heating and cooling services. Additional HVAC functions such as humidifying and dehumidifying can also be performed before the air is distributed. The biggest expenses to consider are furnace repair services and regular filter replacement. There are also electric furnaces, but these can be very expensive to operate.

  2. Electric Heat Pumps

    Heat pumps are combined heating and cooling units, and this is their primary advantage. They are far more efficient than most other kinds of electric heating, and are comparable in operating cost to most gas furnaces. Normally, heat pumps are used with internal ductwork, just like furnaces. However, a new kind of heat pump, called a “mini-split,” can be used to retrofit homes without adding ducts. In one of these systems, wall-mounted units are installed in multiple rooms but connected to a single outdoor unit.

  3. Boilers

    Hot water boilers have been used for heating for a long time, and many people still prefer hot water heating because it doesn’t require fans to circulate (meaning it’s virtually silent). Boilers can use natural gas, propane or oil as fuel. Typically, hot water heat is distributed through baseboard radiators or old-fashioned freestanding radiators. One thing to keep in mind is that radiant heating is very stable and continues to radiate heat even after the system is turned off (hence the name), but takes longer to come up to temperature than forced air. The major disadvantage of this system is that it cannot be integrated with air conditioning.

Which method does your current house use? What other kinds of heating and cooling units have you come across? Do you have a favorite heating method? Join the discussion in the comments.

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