There are many different home heating options to consider, but where do you begin to find the best heat distributions system for your home?
The preliminary step is to determine and select the right energy source for the system. Make sure to conduct research on the energy source (or fuel type) that is readily available in your area. Natural gas, propane, LP gas, and electric heat pumps are all sources of energy that fuel various heating systems with various costs associated with each, depending on their availability and demand in your region. In order to determine which may be the best cost-friendly fit for your home and lifestyle, you can receive estimates on cost through a qualified heating contractor, and you can also reach out to your local gas or electricity company for estimates as well.
Once you have an understanding of which energy source may fit your bill, the next step is to consider the various heat distribution systems. There are many types of heat distribution systems available in the market today, but for the purposes of this overview, we’ll focus on 4 commonly found heating systems found in the U.S. today.
Steam Heating System
The first, and perhaps the oldest, is the steam heating system. As mentioned by Home Advisor, many of the older and historic homes across the U.S. are outfitted with this system as they are durable, provide clean and dust-free heat, and include few moving parts. The basic function of a steam heating system starts with steam created by a boiler furnace through an oil or gas burner. As the steam circulates the pipes into radiators or other convectors, the heat from the steam is dispersed into the room. The water from the steam remains trapped within the pipes, cools down, and is circulated back to the boiler to cycle the heat all over again. As simple as this system may be, the major downside of a steam system is its inefficiency to evenly sustain warmth in a room or home, and it does require yearly maintenance to prevent leakages, blocks, and adjustment of the burner.
Hot Water System
The second type of home heating system is the hot water system. A modern improvement on the steam system, the hot water system – also known as the hydronic system – also uses pipes via a centralized boiler that heats water to produce radiating heat, which is then dispersed using “thin metal fins surrounding the water pipe.” Unlike the steam radiator that channels the cooled water back into the boiler to be reheated for steam, the hydronic system includes an expanded surface area that allows for greater heat transference through wall-mounted “fin-tube” baseboard units. While these systems provide sufficient and controlled heating, it is important to note that because this is a boiler based system, air conditioning systems can not be combined with this system, and much like steam radiators, the pipes require regular maintenance.
The third type of heating system that may be the most recommended and commonly found in homes today is the forced air system. This system may be the most efficient in that it can be used for both heating and cooling through the same HVAC system; all you have to do is select cool (a/c) or hot (heater) air distribution when turning it on. Through a heating source (gas, propane, electricity, etc.), air is warmed and then pushed through a central network of air ducts that lead to vents in different rooms around the home. The high efficiency of this system allows for quick adjustment of temperature from degrees of heat to cool in one simple control. As an added advantage, you can place filters in the vents to remove dust particles and allergens from the air while using the system.
The fourth type of heating system we’ll cover in this post is the geothermal heat pump system. Unlike fossil fuels (think oil or natural gas), it is one of the most eco-friendly dual cooling and heating systems as there are zero carbon emissions associated with the geothermal system, and we won’t run out of geothermal energy – at least for as long as the Earth continues spinning. In a nutshell, a geothermal heat pump works by utilizing the already existent heat radiating from the Earth’s crust, which always runs a consistent heat of 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The geothermal heat pump located in the home pushes water or refrigerant (a special type of fluid that can be heated or cooled) into underground pipes that lie close to the heat source in the earth, heating the liquid to be transferred back up to the pipes in your home, effectively heating the building. With its reliable source of power and renewable energy characteristics, the U.S. Department of Energy cites that geothermal heat pumps “are up to 65% more efficient than traditional HVAC units and pay themselves back over time in energy savings—typically within 10 years.”
These four types of home heat distribution systems are just a few options available when it comes to heating your home. Whichever system you decide to install in your home, make sure you spend enough time in research for the best fit for your home, region, and lifestyle.