There are many different types of heating equipment available on the market today. Some have been around for ages and withstood the test of time with only mild improvements and upgrades. Others are new, modern and use cutting-edge technology. However, aside from their mutual goal of heating your home and keeping you comfortable, all types of heating equipment really couldn’t be any more different from each other.
One of the most prominent differences between all of these various heating technologies is the amount of energy you’ll need to use to keep your home warm. With energy costs rising, how much energy you are using (or you will need to use) are what you should absolutely consider when the time comes to replace your heater with a new unit. To help make this decision a little easier, our experts have compiled details of the most efficient types of heating equipment so you can better understand what they mean for you and your home.
Heat pumps don’t actually produce heat. Instead, they collect it from the outside, concentrate it and then move it inside. In fact, heat pumps are essentially air conditioners in reverse—it’s the same technology. Because heat pumps don’t actually consume energy to produce heat, they’re actually tremendously efficient. If you live in a warmer-weather climate like California, these types of heating will almost always come out on top in terms of the amount of energy used to heat a particular quantity of air.
That being said, heat pumps are not without their downsides. For starters, they have far more moving parts than other types of heating equipment. This means they need regular maintenance and are more prone to issues that may cause them to stop working. Likewise, these systems occasionally need to run a defrosting cycle. Because the outdoor unit can become particularly cold as it’s collecting heat, your system will need to periodically shut off. If your home isn’t warm at that point, you’ll just have to deal with it or use an alternative heat source for a little while until the cycle finishes.
Furnaces are the next type of heating up on our list. Furnaces are perhaps the oldest and most reliable form of heating technology we have today. Once man discovered that fire produced heat, the concept of the furnace was born. In the past, furnaces used things like wood and vegetation as fuel for heat and some ancient civilizations even developed early ductwork technology for carrying heat around larger homes or buildings.
Today’s units have advanced considerably in their efficiency and effectiveness. Today’s furnaces use fuel sources like natural gas, which is packed with energy and considerably cleaner to burn than dirtier sources like wood or coal. They’re also significantly more efficient than they’ve ever been—our understanding of things like air leaks and introduction of technologies like air handlers and insulation has made it possible to carry even more heat to further reaches of your home.
In many cases, a furnace isn’t quite as energy-efficient as a heat pump. However, their reliability and the significantly lower cost of gas compared to electricity makes them still a popular choice among many homeowners.
Boiler systems are commonly found in particularly cold climates and in older buildings that may or may not have central heating or air ducts installed. Boiler systems use the power of water to act as a medium of heat transfer. A high-powered heater brings water up to extremely warm temperatures and then pumps it out through plumbing lines to various rooms in your home. In these rooms, devices like radiators or hydronic floor heaters allow this water to expel some of its heat, which in turn warms the space. The cooled water then cycles back to your boiler and the process starts over.
Boilers aren’t quite as popular now as they were before but they do still have their benefits. They’re actually pretty efficient compared to other types of heating and water can hold a lot of heat making them it ideal for reaching the furthest areas of your home.
Electric heaters are not as common in California anymore, particularly because the cost of electricity is continuing to surge across the state. While these types of furnaces are generally pretty good at heating smaller spaces, many people are switching over to more efficient methods of heating in order to save money and reduce their dependence on expensive electricity. Likewise, older electric heaters actually present an elevated risk of fire or burn injury—the metal covers over electric radiative heaters can get extraordinarily hot, causing burns to the skin or catching something like a paper product on fire.
The Secret about Heating Efficiency
While the practical advice we’ve offered here generally holds true, the truth to heating is that there is no one particular type of heating that is the best decision for your home. For some homes, a furnace is genuinely the better choice over a heat pump for a variety of reasons. In others, a boiler system may be the best decision. We encourage you to speak with one of our skilled heating professionals to learn more about what type of heating is best for you the next time you have to replace your heating system.
Need a new heater? Call Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar at (408) 868-5500 to schedule a consultation with one of our home heating experts.