Types of Heating

Most homeowners will choose between the two major types of heating systems: hydronic and forced-air.

Hydronic heating. Hydronic units, or boilers, are most common in older homes, but they are becoming more popular in current builds due to their even heating, efficiency, and relative economy. Inside a boiler, water is heated to the desired temperature; then, through tubing made of steel, copper, or wrought iron, the hot water is circulated through the walls and/or floors of the home. This produces a steady, even heat, as the tubing materials hold heat for a long time, without cycling on and off as a furnace may. Though the cost of installation is greater than a typical forced air system, a high-efficiency boiler can cut heating costs in the average home by as much as 30 percent.

Forced air. Forced-air-type heaters include gas, oil, propane, and electric furnaces. In this system, a blower moves warmed air from a central heating element and carries it through the home via a system of ductwork and vents. While more noisy and drying to the home’s interior humidity, a forced air furnace is less expensive than a hydronic system, and it can accommodate central air conditioners, humidifiers, and other HVAC home equipment. In addition, high-efficiency models are widely sold.