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Best Types of Heating Systems for the Winter

Nov 3, 2021 | Heating

Winters can get cold, so staying warm seems to be on everyone’s minds. There are a ton of options when it comes to heating your home. We can divide them up by how they create the heat and how they distribute it.

The way you heat your home impacts how even temperatures will feel inside. Plus, it’ll determine how quickly it gets war, and how much it’ll cost to operate. Here are some of the best heating options available this winter.

Radiant Heating vs. Forced-Air Systems
Most modern heating systems use forced-air distribution. That includes all of your furnaces, along with anything using ventilation. Radiant heating was first available in old-school boilers. For many years, radiant heat fell out of favor. However, in recent years, radiant heating has made a comeback thanks to radiant floors.

Forced-air systems use various fuel sources to generate heat. Then, they push heated air through vents by using fans. If you’re interested in heating your whole home, these systems tend to make the most sense.

Radiant heating systems directly heat whatever they touch. Then, heat radiates from the material as infrared radiation. Back in the day, boilers were found in homes all over the country. They’re still used in some older buildings to this day. Usually, these systems aren’t as efficient as modern equipment. As a result, they’re not as popular. However, radiant floor heating has changed all of that.

Nowadays, furnaces are the most popular way to heat homes. They use either electricity or gas to produce their heat. Then, heat exchangers transfer heat from its source to the air. Finally, the furnace’s blowers push the air into your ventilation. This distributes it throughout the home.

We can divide modern furnaces up by looking at their stages. Single-stage systems only have one mode. They’re either on or off. Dual-stage systems give you a little more control by adding a high-mode and low-mode. Finally, modulating systems offer the most control. These detect your home’s temperature. Then, they precisely adjust how much air is blown throughout your home.

Furnaces tend to be fairly efficient, and they’ll heat up homes of all sizes. However, they’re not cheap when you’re first buying them. Still, because of efficiency and long lifespans, they’re usually the best option.

Radiant Floor Heating
Radiant floor heating has become much more popular in recent years. It’s even brought back radiant heating as a distribution method. You’ll find them available in either electric or hydronic models.

Electric floor heaters use electrical resistance to generate heat. Your toaster oven functions using the same principles. Heat passes from those wires into the floors. Then, it radiates into the room.

Hydronic floor heaters still transfer heat into the flooring. However, instead of using electrical resistance, they either use water or oil. These take longer to heat up, but they’re more efficient overall.

With either of them, you’ll have toasty-warm floors throughout the home. So, walking around barefoot will be rather comfortable. That’s their biggest advantage compared to furnaces.

On the other hand, these systems cost a ton to install. There’s a lot more material necessary, and you’ve got to rip up all your floors. However, if you’ve never liked walking on cold floors, nothing can beat them.

Boilers were a lot more popular back in the day, but you’ll still find them in older homes sometimes. These create heat through combustion and transfer it into water. Then, water travels through pipes to warm up the house.

Technically, these are still radiant heating systems. They fell out of favor because of how expensive they are to operate. Compared to modern furnaces, they’re far less efficient.

Heat Pumps
Heat pumps are one of the newest heating methods to hit the market. Instead of burning fuel to create heat, they simply transfer it from the ambient air. Better yet, these can actually heat and cool your home. Plus, these tend to be among the most efficient climate control systems.

By using electricity, heat pumps take heat from cool spaces to make them warm. At the same time, they’re cooling off the warm spaces. Your refrigerator works on the same principles. And, since they’re not generating the heat, they’re far more efficient overall.

During the winter, they’ll take heat from the outside air and push it into your home. Once summer arrives, they do the exact opposite. Compared to a modern furnace, they’ll use about 50% less electricity to keep your home warm.

Active Solar Heating
Active solar heating takes energy from the sun and uses it to warm up your house. Typically, they’ll either transfer heat into water or the air. From there, they can send the heat throughout your house or to a storage medium. When the heat goes directly into your home, it uses a radiant distribution system.

These can even be tied into your heat pump system if you’ve got one. However, you can always use them together with a forced-air system. As such, these have become a popular way to supplement traditional furnaces. By combining solar heating with your furnace, you’ll spend less on your utility bills, and you’ll be just as comfortable.

Ductless Mini Splits
Ductless mini-splits are what you’ve seen whenever you’re at a hotel. Half of the unit sits on the interior of your home while the other half remains outside. Small conduits connect the two parts between the wall.

They transfer heat directly through refrigerant lines, so they’re pretty efficient. If you don’t have adequate ductwork, they’re about the best option available. You won’t have to install any ducts, and they’ll keep your home comfortable, too.

Wood and Pellet Heating
Finally, wood has been used to generate heat for longer than most of these other systems. Even today, people burn wood at home in their fireplaces to keep warm during the winter. If your home has a fireplace, you could also burn pellets for heat. These don’t release as much smoke, but they create a ton of heat.

Either way, if you’re going to use combustion, check your CO monitors. Burning anything creates carbon monoxide gas. So, you’ve got to make sure wherever you burn things is well-ventilated. Before you use your fireplace, hire someone to clean it out. That way, it’ll let all the smoke escape.

Stoves and fireplaces have two major benefits. First, they’re rather efficient. They can have up to 83% HHV in some cases. Second, they use renewable materials to create heat for your home. If you’re concerned about renewable energy, these are a great option for the winter.

Your Wintertime Heating Specialists
Hansen Heating & Air has been helping people heat their homes since 2006. We’re devoted to delivering high-quality service to each of our customers. If you live in Mobile, AL, all the way to Baldwin, we’d love to help you heat yours this winter. We can install, maintain and repair your furnace. We could even help out with your AC system. Contact Hansen Heating & Air today so we can give you a free quote.