People who have spent most of their lives relying on one heat source for their home might be surprised to learn that there are several options available. Some of these depend on climate and region, while others relate to the size and construction of the house. There are classic options like wood fireplaces and boilers, plus a few that represent the latest in heating technology. This information helps homeowners determine which heating options may be ideal for them.
1. Forced-Air Heating
Most homes in the United States use a forced-air heating system that relies on a furnace to generate warmth. Furnaces take an energy source, typically natural gas, heating oil, or electricity, and use it to produce heat. A blower inside the furnace circulates the air through ductwork in the building, with vents that deliver the heat to individual rooms. The furnace acts as the central figure in a central heating system. One appliance creates the heat for the entire home.
2. Hydronic Systems
Hydronic systems, usually boilers, work much like furnaces but use hot water. Boilers burn heating oil or natural gas, similar to furnaces. The main difference is the boiler contains a tank, which heats water. The heated water runs through pipes in the home to radiators. The equipment may also deliver hot water to sinks and faucets. Boilers tend to be more common in older homes or buildings with a lot of units. Boilers can often handle a higher heating load than furnaces, especially those meant for commercial or industrial applications.
3. Direct Heating
Most people are familiar with direct heat sources. These include:
- space heaters, running on fuel or electricity
- baseboard heaters
These systems provide a localized amount of heat that people can feel as long as they are in the room. They may be appropriate for rooms that feel colder, or as a way to heat an unconditioned building on the property.
Direct heating options, such as a fireplace, often require more maintenance and safety. A fireplace has a chimney for ventilation, while many space heating options do not. Homeowners must make sure that they can release smoke or fuel byproducts out of the home. They must also avoid putting flammable items near the heat source, because they could catch fire.
4. Radiant Heating
Radiant heating is a newer application of an older technology. Steam heating using boilers poses a number of potential disadvantages, including burns on the radiator and clogs to the valve releasing steam. Radiant heating offers the efficient heating of a boiler without a piece of burning-hot equipment in the room. With this system, homeowners have a series of tubes that run inside the wall or under the floor. The tubes may carry heated water or air that radiates into the room. They may also generate heat using electricity. These systems tend to be more efficient, but they require homeowners to engage in a fair amount of remodeling to install them.
5. Geothermal Heating
As heat pumps get more effective at heating as well as cooling, more homeowners are beginning to realize their benefits. Geothermal heating is taking prominence as a heat source that is:
- low-cost for use
- long-lasting, up to 50 years
Heat pumps work like an air conditioner, only backwards. They extract heat from the outdoors and cycle it inside.
Ground-source heat pumps, also called geothermal heat pumps, use the more moderate temperature of the earth to derive heat. Even if the air outside is 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature underground is warmer. These heat pumps usually need space to run a series of tubes underground, which use air, water, or another liquid to collect heat. That heat can be used to warm the home through a forced-air delivery system, or to heat hot water.
Selecting heating for the home depends on the house size, age, and location. Palos Verdes homeowners have a variety of options that they can choose for their comfort and convenience.