Home Heating Systems – Types of Residential Heat Sources to Consider
Deciding whether or not to replace your current home heating system can be a stressful decision, and it is important to know what products and service are available. As always, knowing what is out there can have a big impact on your choice. Below is a synopsis of some of the more popular home heating options.
Furnaces: There are quite a few different varieties of furnaces available today. Basically, a furnace is a device that accepts air from a house through a series of ducts and vents. The air is then taken to an area where it can be warmed and circulated through the home after filtration by use of a blower. Most often furnaces are powered by gas or electric sources, but can also be adapted to be used with oil, coal, or wood. If you decide on this form of home heating, be sure that you check that the model has a variable speed fan, which will use less energy than conventional units, and that the capacity of the furnace is not to high for the square footage of your home. For example, you don’t want to be paying for a unit that can heat a 2500 square foot home when yours is only half that size.
Heat Pumps: There are two kinds of heat pumps: air source and ground source. The basic principles behind both are easily explained. Air source heat pump units use warm outer air as a main source of heat and provide additional heating if needed, and because of this are only appropriate for mild or warm areas. Air conditioning is often built into the setup and use the same principle to cool the air. Ground source heat pumps, often called geothermal heat pumps, use the fact that underground temperatures generally stay the same all year to heat a home, pulling heat from below the surface to heat a home. While not as popular, installers of this form cite greater energy savings and possible use as a water heater despite its larger price tag.
Radiant Heat: Also offering multiple forms this option can be found in radiant baseboard heat, hydronic systems, or radiant ceiling or floor heat. Baseboard heat utilizes long metal units with electrical systems inside of them, usually a coil of wire that is heated and consequently projects heat into a room. Each unit is usually self-controlled with an individual thermostat, but does not usually show the room’s current temperature. They can be used as the primary source of heat as well as a secondary form for colder portions of the home, and usually operate at a greater cost than conventional furnaces. Radiant ceiling or floor heat uses a similar principle as it uses electrical units that are placed in floors or ceilings to produce and dispense heat. Lastly, hydronic systems use heated water from a boiler pushed through a piping system to provide heat throughout the home and are used in a variety of ways, ranging from home heating to use as an ice prevention system on driveways.
Space Heaters: Very common and efficient, space heaters are a great way to heat a small area of the home instead of the entire area. These units allow you to turn down your thermostat and save energy usage by heating only the portions of your home that you actively use. While not a heating solution for an entire home, they are something to keep in mind.
With the many different forms of heating systems available one choice can be hard, but advice from a local professional may help you in your research. Also be sure to ask about ways to save on maintenance costs through simple tasks such as replacing air filters and cleaning accessible parts of the system. Also be sure to research EnergyStar ratings of any heating units you are considering, and as always, ask plenty of questions to make sure you are making the right choice for your home.