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.