Most homes across the United States rely on heating systems to maintain a warm and comfortable indoor temperature. In fact, only 3 percent of homes do not have or use heating equipment, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Nearly half of all Americans heat their homes with natural gas while one-third uses electricity. A smaller percentage use propane/LPG, wood, fuel oil, or another type of fuel for heating purposes. Learn more about the type of heating systems most often used in residential homes and how these systems operate to help you achieve a cozy indoor environment.
Types of Heating Systems
Your home may have one or more types of heating systems, each with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here is a quick review of the most common types of heating systems and how they work.
- A forced air system is the most common type of heating system found in residential properties. With a forced air system, the air is typically heated in a furnace and distributed from the furnace through a series of ductwork into each room via registers. Furnaces can heat air using a number of fuel types, such as natural gas, oil, propane, or electricity. One of the biggest benefits of forced air systems is that they can also be used for cooling and air filtration. Today, installing a forced air system is also affordable.
- Boilers are often used in homes for heating and powering purposes. These enclosed vessels work by heating and circulating water in the form of hot water or steam. Boilers can use a wide range of fuels, such as natural gas, electricity, oil, or propane. There are a variety of boiler types on the market. While hot water boilers are often compact, low maintenance and energy efficient, more complex steam boilers contain special parts resulting in more costly maintenance.
- A hot water baseboard system is a type of heating system that heats a space using hot water that has been heated by a boiler. Once heated, the hot water leaves the boiler and is piped into fin-tube baseboard units that are generally mounted along the walls in your home. The warmed air is then distributed by convection as air rises. The boiler itself can be operated with natural gas, electricity, oil, or propane. Many homeowners prefer hot water baseboard systems as they are quiet and energy efficient.
- A radiant heating system is favored for its natural, comfortable heating capabilities. This type of heating system can be found in several forms ranging from traditional pot belly stoves to under-the-floor hot water tubing. A radiant heating system works by transferring heat or through the process of radiation. In addition to embedding hot water tubing in the floor, radiant panels can also be installed in the ceiling for extra warmth. Heating stoves typically use coal or wood, while floor systems use boiler-heated water.
- Geothermal heating is one of the newest heating systems to be widely used. This type of heating system uses geothermal energy and an underground piping system to heat homes. With geothermal heating, water is circulated through an underground “loop” of pipes to exchange heat between the earth and your home. Geothermal systems can also be used to cool your home in the summer months. This type of system is found to be significantly more efficient than other heating and cooling systems available today.
- A steam radiant heating system is a type of heating system more commonly seen in older homes. These systems are characterized by cast iron radiators that heat rooms with steam. You can find steam radiant heating systems in two basic varieties: one pipe and two pipe options. With one pipe systems, the water and steam travel in opposite directions in the same pipe. With two-pipe systems, water runs in one pipe and steam in the other. One of the biggest advantages of this type of heating system is its ability to warm up spaces quickly.
Hiring an HVAC Contractor
Your heating system is one of your largest and most important systems in your home. As so, it is important to maintain it through regular tune-ups and heating repair services whenever necessary. Fall is the best time to call in a professional HVAC contractor to check your heating system for problems and ensure that it is working at peak capacity.
You want to catch any malfunctions or other problems early on to help keep costs low. Choose a heating contractor who is licensed, certified, and fully qualified to perform the job. An established company is best as you will have the opportunity to check customer testimonials and review the various products and services offered.
There are several reasons why you may want to hire a professional HVAC contractor. One of the most common reasons homeowners seek out heating professionals is for emergency HVAC repair. Maybe your furnace is making unusual noises or emitting odd smells. Or perhaps your heating system just stopped working altogether. These types of incidents can occur any time of the day or night, and when they do, you want to have a reliable HVAC contractor available to help.
The average life expectancy of most heating systems is between 15 and 20 years. However, most homeowners make the decision to replace their heating system after 10 to 15 years, or when it begins to break down frequently, resulting in many costly repairs. You may want to consider a heating system replacement if your existing heating system has reached or surpassed its expected lifespan, or if the repairs needed to maintain the system are frequent. You will also want to consider how energy efficient your heating system is. It may be worth the initial investment to purchase a more efficient system.
Call for a Free Estimate
If you are in need of heating system installation, maintenance, or heating repair, call our expert HVAC technicians at Presidential Heating & Air Conditioning. Serving all of Montgomery County and northwest Washington, DC, are certified technicians have the experience and skills needed to properly inspect, diagnose, and repair your heating system. Call our office today for a free estimate.