While there’s no shortage of heating system choices out there, they all have the same goal in common: keeping your family warm, safe and comfortable throughout the frigid winter months.
But with a variety of fuel sources, distribution methods, efficiency and equipment options, not to mention variables specific to your home’s size, layout and existing systems, selecting the right style of heating for your needs is an important decision that might not have a crystal-clear answer.
The following are brief overviews of some of the most common residential heating systems, their benefits as well as any drawbacks they present.
By far the most common central heating system in American homes, your furnace can be powered by electricity, natural gas, liquid propane or fuel oil to move warm air with a blower through a series of air ducts in your home’s walls. That same blower and duct work can also be utilized by your air conditioning, making for an efficient HVAC combo.
While forced-air furnaces are less expensive to implement than some of the upcoming options we’ll discuss, excessive duct work installation can be a costly process and the ducts could spring leaks or encourage the spread of allergens.
Boiler hydronic heating setups work by circulating hot water or steam throughout pipes to traditional radiators or baseboard systems throughout your home. While they aren’t as common as they once were in older homes and apartments, and have high installation costs, newer high-efficiency systems use less energy from electric, natural gas, liquid propane or oil fuel sources.
Using technology similar to air conditioning, heat pumps extract warmth from the outside air and distribute it through an air handler and duct work. Heat pumps can meet both heating and cooling needs and are very energy efficient, but they’re really only suitable for homes in more mild, moderate climates than what we experience here in the Midwest.
Geothermal heat pump systems extract heat from an underground looped-pipe installation that’s incredibly efficient, safe and environmentally friendly. Just a few feet below the frost line, and even in the dead of winter, ground temperatures average 55 degrees and can get as high as 75 degrees, providing a reliable and renewable heat source that can be harnessed to both warm and cool homes.
While expensive and labor-intensive to install, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates geothermal systems can save homeowners between 30-70% on their heating bills and 20-50% on cooling costs, add significant resale value to a home and reduce your carbon footprint by as much as 50%.
Ductless heating and cooling products are becoming more popular among homeowners as the wall-mounted systems are much more efficient and quieter than comparable window units. Ductless units can be installed almost anywhere, requiring only one subtle hole be drilled through the wall, and offer precise comfort control for the rooms in which they’re located.
Working in residential heating and cooling since 1968, Breedlove Dobbs has seen it all and our technicians are experts in all forms of central heating systems. If you need to make an upgrade and want to learn more about your available heating options and their benefits, schedule your free in-home estimate to let our team survey your home and determine which system and setup make the most sense for your home, comfort needs and budget.