Most home heating systems are either furnaces, boilers, electric baseboard heaters, fireplaces. Furnaces and boilers can run on either gas, propane or oil.
A furnace uses a fan to drive hot air through your ductwork and into your home (forced hot air). Forced air systems generally heat the entire house with one thermostat - or are one zone systems. Incidentally, the ductwork for furnace systems are also used for central air conditioning or cooling systems, making these less expensive and more flexible to install.
But, if ducts are not insulated, much of the heat or cold is lost through the ducts before reaching its destination. Also, the ductwork needs to be kept sealed, (and cleaned seasonally) leading to inefficiency.
Boilers (or hydronic systems) heat and circulate water or steam into radiators, baseboard units or radiant heat tubes under floors (radiant heat). Besides gas, porpane or oil, solar energy can also be used as a secondary or supplemental source to pre-heat the water (reduces fuel use and cost).
Boiler systems can supplyu different zones (for example. different thermostats for bedrooms, living areas, and basement), allowing more control of your utility bill. Boilers tend to be more efficient, healthier and need less maintenance than furnace systems - provided you do not need a central air conditioner and ductwork.
Electric Baseboard Heat
Electric baseboard heaters use electricity and are easy and inexpensive to install. Because each room has an individual thermostat or zone, heat can be used in the areas as ,needed. However, electricity is usually an expensive way to heat in the colder regions and rarely compares to using gas for fuel.
Other Heating Options
Fireplaces, wood stoves, space heaters and kerosene heaters are also common home heating system options found in older buildings. Wood stoves using wood pellets are particularly efficient heaters. They can be very cost effective, but need adequate ventilation and outdoor air to avoid carbon monoxide build-up.
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