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Pros and Cons of Most Common Home Heating Systems

Pros and Cons of Most Common Home Heating Systems

Image by Bonnie Bogle CC BY 2.0 Flickr

Every home heating system has its ups and downs! Consider first these pros and cons of common home heating systems to help you decide the best unit for your home.

Forced air heating

Pros

  • Widely used and fairly inexpensive
  • Existing distribution ductwork can be utilized to distribute cool, air-conditioned air in the summer
  • Air can be humidified and dehumidified as well as filtered for comfort

Cons

  • Convection systems that use moving air typically have cold rooms since heat ascends to the top of the area and the air flow in a room may not be balanced
  • Moving air will distribute allergens and dust throughout the home

In-floor radiant heating

Pros

  • Silent and comfortable by providing constant, radiant heat

Cons

  • Costs more to install as a retrofit
  • It takes quite some time to heat individual rooms as the floor itself must heat up before the entire area feels warm
  • Could be a major problem to reach water pipes in case maintenance is needed
  • No ducts for air conditioning

Steam/Hot water radiators

Pros

  • Provides a very even and constant temperature
  • Rather than moving air, steam or hot water radiators use radiant heating and most homeowners find radiant heating more comfortable

Cons

  • Many homeowners perceive radiators as unattractive and old-fashioned
  • The system has no ductwork in place to distribute cool air in the summer so air conditioning a home is more costly.
  • Radiators take up space in a room and limit furniture arrangement

Hot water baseboards

Pros

  • Allow temperature control in individual rooms
  • Virtually soundless and provide radiant, constant heat

Cons

  • Though less obtrusive than radiators, baseboard heaters still limit furniture placement.
  • Baseboard heaters can’t be hidden with drapes or furniture

What to Look for In A Home Heating System

There are many things that can influence the proper heating system for your home. For instance, your family lifestyle and how they use the heating system, the size of your home, the amount of insulation in your ceiling and walls, where you live in the country will all have an effect on determining the correct type and size of the system for you.

Luckily, there are some common factors to guide you in making your decision.

Appropriate sizing is essential. Having a furnace that’s too small means it will need to work harder to keep your home warm, causing the furnace to wear out sooner and wasting a significant amount of fuel. On the other hand, a furnace that’s too big will cycle on and off more often than a correctly sized furnace, making it ineffective and a waste of money. Have an expert technician do a particular heat requirement estimate for your home and don’t agree to take an assessment based only on the square footage of your home.

There are higher efficiency furnaces that have two stage burners which allow the furnace to function at lesser burn rates, so they burn low fuel when the demand for heat is low. When extra heat is necessary, the second stage kicks in to meet the higher heat requirement. This scheme offers significant fuel savings over the life of the furnace.

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