Heating System Replacement Options
It’s always good to know your options. This is true in all areas of life, including heating system replacement options for your home.
In the past weeks, we talked about some furnace replacement warning signs (age, high energy bills, frequent repairs, and strange sounds and smells). If your furnace is over 15 years old and you are thinking about replacement options, we recommend speaking with a professional about your options.
Since each home is different, you will benefit from a full-home inspection and professional recommendations. Choosing the ideal unit depends on many factors, not just measuring the size of the home. Knowing a little bit about each of the different types of heating systems will help you decide which one you want.
Heating System Types
If you have an aging heating system that needs replacement, a variety of heating technologies are available as replacement options:
1. Forced Air Heating System (Central Heating)
In a forced air system, you heat up the air and distribute it through air ducts using a blower motor. The heat usually comes from natural gas, however, other heating methods can be used, such as electricity, propane, and oil.
The reason why they are called central heating systems is because heat is generated in a central location and then distributed throughout the home via a network of ducts.
There are furnaces that can be used as air conditioning systems in the summer and furnaces that can serve as backup heat for hybrid heating systems. If you decide that a central air heating system is your best option, get the highest AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating that you can get. You’ll get your money back in energy savings and a longer lifespan.
2. Radiant Heat
Source: Wikimedia Commons
The most common type of radiant heating delivers heat through a system of hot water tubes installed into your floor (“floor heating”), ceiling, or wall panels. A boiler pumps the heated water through the tubes. Sometimes, radiant heat consists of electric cables.
Either way, it’s like having heated seats for your entire home. Wouldn’t you want warm floors on those freezing cold mornings?
Since radiant heat doesn't require any ductwork, it can be extremely efficient since they deliver the heat directly, with no heat loss through air ducts.Additionally, radiant heating can be easier to create “zones,” separate areas of the home that each have their own thermostat controls.
While they can be expensive to install, indoor air quality will improve (no more air movement or dirty ducts) and your monthly energy bill will go down (operates at lower temperatures).
3. Heat Pumps
Heat pumps are used to both heat and cool the home. They use refrigerant and electricity to transfer heat rather than generating it directly like a gas furnace. As a result, they are often much more efficient than other types of heating systems. Unfortunately, they work best in moderate climates where temperatures rarely dip below freezing.
An energy-efficient alternative would be to use a heat pump in conjunction with another heating system (such as a furnace) to cut down your energy use.
4. Hybrid Heating
Hybrid heating combines the energy efficiency of a heat pump with the power of a gas furnace. Most of the time, the heat pump will operate to heat and cool your home. It is only during extreme temperatures when the furnace kicks on.
Hybrid heating offers year-round heating and cooling solutions adaptable to any climate. They are often the most efficient set-up you can have.
Most homes in the United States are heated with either a furnace or a boiler. Boilers use steam or hot water to transfer heat through pipes and out through radiators.
Steam boilers operate at much higher temperatures and are often less efficient and effective than their hot water counterparts. Oil, natural gas, propane, biodiesel blends, and electricity can all be used for heating the water. They need to maintain a certain minimum temperature all year to prevent frozen pipes.
6. Ductless Mini-Split (Zoned Heating)
Ductless mini-splits are a great option for additions and add-ons. Since they don’t require new air ducts and can deliver heating and cooling directly, many homeowners choose them for their guest houses, garages, and add-ons. Similar to air-source heat pumps, mini-splits have both an indoor and outdoor unit. The indoor component, however, is mounted in any room you like.
Homeowners choose ductless mini-splits for their flexibility and zoning advantages. Since each zone has its own thermostat, you can end up saving a lot of money by having the option to only condition one area of the building.
Choosing a replacement heating system is a big decision! Don't take it lightly. Consider all of your options and learn which questions you should ask your HVAC replacement technician.
Once you have a new heating system, don’t forget to schedule annual check-ups. Consider signing up for a home maintenance plan so you never have to forget annual heating, cooling, plumbing, or electrical appointments.
Call Gold Medal Service for expert HVAC repairs and replacements: (732) 365-3199
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