Heating Systems Buying Guide

Which system you choose can depend on the size and type of home you have.

Published November 23, 2021

If you’ve never had to shop for a heating system, you may not realize that there are many different options available. Each system is designed for a different purpose. Which system you choose can depend on the size and type of home you have. You’ll also need to consider the climate where your home is located.

Once you’re ready to begin your search, the first thing to do is to become familiar with the different heating systems available so you can choose what’s right for your home. 

Types of Heating Systems

Furnace (forced air system)

Furnace or the forced-air system is one of the most common HVAC systems in North America. Furnaces create hot air, which is then pushed throughout your home via ducts. Air conditioning units can also share the same ductwork. Furnaces are also popular since they can heat up a home quickly, and the temperature can be easily regulated through your thermostat. However, it can also take up a lot of space and require ductwork.

Heat pump

One newer home heating system that’s become popular over the years is a heat pump. Essentially, heat pumps take heat from the air outside and push it throughout your home via an indoor air handler. There are also ground-source, or geothermal heat pumps that pull heat from below. What makes heat pumps appealing is that they come in different types. The mini-split, or ductless option allows you to heat your home without the need for ducts. Plus, heat pumps are reversible so they can be used as air conditioning during the summer. 

Boiler (radiator distribution system)

Boiler and radiator systems are typically found in apartment buildings and older homes. The cast-iron radiators that you typically see near windows are heated with steam or hot water that’s generated from a boiler. That hot water is released as heat from the radiator. These days radiators can be updated to low-profile baseboard units which can help create more space in your home and make rooms more sightly.

Baseboard heaters

As mentioned above, baseboard radiators are an updated version of upright radiators. Besides taking up less space, they’re also usually more appealing visually. That said, for them to function properly, you’ll want to ensure they’re unobstructed by furniture.

Radiant heating systems

Radiant heating systems are interesting because they can heat objects such as your floors and furniture instead of the air like how furnaces operate. How is this possible? Electrical writing or plastic tubing are installed in your flooring. With plastic tubing, hot water is generated by a boiler or heater then flows through the tubes which warm up your floors. Radiant systems do take time to heat up, and the installation can be expensive, but some homeowners prefer this type of heat as they feel the air is less dry.

Choosing the right system based on your region/climate

Although having a lot of systems available is great for consumers, your choices may be limited based on the climate where you live. For example, if you live in an area with moderate temperatures, a heat pump might be all you need. However, if you live in a climate that gets frigid winters, you may want a traditional furnace since it can heat up your home quickly. As a general rule, think of your region as a starting point, but it may be best to consult a professional about what systems are right for you.

Heating systems for the Northeast

Since the Northeast of the United States usually gets cold winter weather, you may want a system that can reliably keep your home warm. Many people prefer gas furnaces since they can quickly heat up your home to the temperature of your preference. Going with gas power can also be advantageous as you’d still be able to keep your home warm even if there’s no power during a storm.

Heating systems for the Southeast

While the Southeast region doesn’t get harsh winters, it can still be necessary to have a heating system to help deal with the cold. A heat pump may be a good solution here as it can create heat by pulling the warm air outside and pushing it into your home, helping save more energy. If you currently have a gas furnace, you might also want to consider switching to a heat pump when it’s time to upgrade.

Heating systems for the Midwest

Winters in the Midwest can be bitter, especially since temperatures in the region frequently drop below freezing. Thus, it is important to have an HVAC system that can keep your home warm all winter. A furnace to quickly heat up your home may be an ideal option here. While a heat pump could potentially save you money on energy bills, they might not be able to keep your home warm enough during the coldest days of winter.

Heating systems for the Southwest

Interestingly enough, weather in the Southwest United States can vary quite a bit. If you live near a body of water or near the desert, you could see drastic swings in temperatures, from blazing heat in the day to chilly cold in the night. Heat pumps have quickly become a popular choice in the area as they’re energy-efficient and cost effective. 

Heating systems for the West

While California often gets great weather, the temperatures can still drop - especially in the northern area. Thus, it’s not uncommon for those living towards the north to have natural gas or an electric furnace to deal with the cold. On the other hand, residents of the southern areas, whose climate often remains moderate throughout the year, could rely on a heat pump for their needs. 

Overall, if the weather in your area typically fluctuates, you may want to consider a furnace. For those who reside in a more moderate climate, take a look at heat pumps.

Get advice from a professional

With so many heating systems available, it may be a good idea to contact a Local Home Pro professional as they can provide you with a free in-home estimate. During this time, they’ll also be able to walk through your home and recommend a system that’s suitable for your home and climate. Book your free in-home estimate today!

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