Because there’s more than one way to stay warm in winter, home heating systems come in several varieties. Which system you select depends on a number of variables including the type of fuel available and the cost, as well as the typical severity of winter weather. Another factor is whether you’re upgrading an installed system in an existing home or making a selection for new construction. Here are some common home heating systems and the pros/cons of each.
Central gas-fired furnace.A gas-fired central system provides high-volume heat at the current low cost of natural gas. If you're upgrading an existing central system, the ductwork, gas fittings and venting are already in place, making installation quick and straightforward. Downsides of standard central gas heating include efficiency limitations due to heat energy lost up the vent pipe. Also, leaky residential ductwork may require sealing when upgrading to a new central furnace.
Heat pumps. Because it heats without combustion by extracting latent heat energy from outdoor air, a heat pump is very efficient, producing up to four units of heat for every unit of energy (electricity) consumed. Both heating and A/C functions are incorporated in a single unit, consolidating routine maintenance. Heat pumps are effective and efficient in moderate climates like here in Silicon Valley. In regions where temperatures plunge below 20 degrees, however, standard efficiency heat pumps activate electric resistance coils for supplemental heat, which raises heating costs. Also, because heat pumps require higher air volume than a standard furnace, existing ductwork may require upgrade to meet higher specs.
Radiant floors.A radiant floor incorporates tubing that circulates hot water, turning the entire floor surface into a radiator. The gentle rising warmth suffuses the room without the noise and agitation of forced-air heat. Issues with ductwork are eliminated and air quality is improved. Retrofitting radiant floors into existing homes is a major renovation project and expensive, however. For that reason, radiant heat is more ideal for new construction.
Learn about more options for selecting home heating systems. In the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz, contact Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).