The more you know about the various heating systems that are available on the market today, the better able you will be to choose the best one for your home. Obviously, your main goal (besides being comfortable), is to have a heating and air conditioning source that costs as little as possible to use and maintain.
Your Biggest Expense
Space heating is the largest expense for most home owners in North America. In the United States, this expense accounts for approximately 45 percent of all energy bills. In the US, the most common form of home heating fuel is gas, which is used by 57 percent of home owners. Year ago it cost two to three times as much to heat a home with oil as it did to heat it with gas. However early this year oil prices crashed and at present it costs about the same to heat with gas or oil. Another way to cut costs is to upgrade your home as well as your heating system. Putting in new doors and windows, insulation, etc. can do a lot to cut down on your home heating bills.
How do Heating Systems Work?
While there are many different types of heating systems, they all incorporate the same three basic parts:
- Heat Source – Usually a furnace, heat pump, or boiler, provides warm air and water throughout the home.
- Heat Distribution System – This moves the heat throughout the home. Systems include forced air and radiators.
- Control System – This the thermostat that allows you to control the temperature in your home.
Types of Heat Sources
There are five main heating sources that are used by heating systems:
- Furnaces – Heat the air and use blower motors and air ducts to get the air throughout the home.
- Boilers – Heat water to provide heat to the home through hot water or steam. The heat is distributed throughout the home via a pipe system.
- Heat Pumps – Heat the home by pulling heat from the air and then redistributing it throughout the home. This type of source is also used for cooling homes.
- Active Solar Heating – Heats the home by using energy from the sun. Panels collect the energy, and then it is distributed throughout the home.
- Electric Heating – Heats the home by converting energy into heat. Also known as electric resistance heating.
Types of Heat Distribution Systems
There are five main types of heat distribution systems:
- Forced Air – This is the most common type of distribution system in homes. It distributes heat from the furnace through air ducts.
- Steam Radiant – This is likely one of the oldest types of heat distribution systems, using radiators to heat individual rooms.
- Radiant – This can be installed in floors, ceiling, and wall panels, and transfers heat from hot surfaces to items, including people, in the room. According to a research conducted by Heating Oil Express radiators have slightly more advantages than forced air systems.
- Hot Water Baseboards – This is a lot like radiant heating, with hot water flowing through baseboard heating units.
- Electric Baseboards – A variation of hot water baseboards, these use electricity to heat the home.
Other Sources of Home Heating
In addition to the main heating sources in homes, many homeowners are opting for a variety of other heating sources. These include:
- Wood/Pellet Stoves – These are ideal if you live in an area where you can easily get wood. It is also one of the most economical way to heat a home.
- Portable and Direct Vent Wall Heaters – Used in addition to the main heating system when that system isn’t quite enough.
- Fireplaces – These can provide a lot of warmth in a room, and they look great while doing it.
Featured photo credit: Garret Voight via flickr.com