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4 popular home heating systems

A reliable home heating system is necessary if you want your home's interior to remain comfortable during the cold winter months. When choosing a heat system for your home, consider the cost of available fuels, frequency of use, and the level of comfort and convenience you expect.

4 popular home heating systems

  1. Electric baseboard and wall-mounted heaters are simple, reliable and relatively inexpensive. These types of heaters can be powered by your home's existing electricity; they require no duct work or venting. Available from manufacturers, such as Honeywell, SlantFin and Q-Mark, these types of heaters typically cost between $75 and $250 each. Electric baseboard and wall-mounted heaters can be installed in either new construction, or retrofitted into older existing homes.
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  3. Traditional furnaces are powered by electricity, natural gas, propane or heating oil, and rely on a system of ducts to deliver the heated air to different areas within your home. Popular furnace models from Trane, Armstrong and Carrier are available at a cost of between $2,000 and $6,000. Consider purchasing a brand of furnace that is warrantied and serviced by HVAC contractors in your local area. Furnaces are rated for their energy efficiency. A high-efficiency furnace will usually cost more to purchase than a basic model, but should require less energy to operate over the long haul.
  4. In-floor heat systems, often called radiant floor heating, rely on a series of pipes to circulate hot water throughout your home's floor, which in turn heats the air in your house. The water is heated by an electric or gas-fired boiler and is circulated throughout a home's slab foundation by a series of pumps and pipes. These systems are very appealing to some homeowners because they keep floors warm to the touch, and there is no need for duct work or wall vents to distribute the heat. Radiant heat packages and system components are available from several companies, such as ThermoPex and Watts. In general, radiant floor heating is more expensive than a sytem that uses a traditional furnace.
  5. Ground source heat pumps use the thermal heat from beneath the ground to heat your home. These types of systems can be very energy-efficient, because instead of creating heat by burning fossil fuels, heat pumps extract existing heat that is below the surface of the earth and move it into your home. Heat pumps can deliver heat using traditional ducting or in-floor radiant tubing. Some heat pump systems can cost between $10,000 and $35,000, but the considerable up-front cost is usually off set by decades of lower energy consumption. Waterfurnace and Climatemaster are two well-known manufacturers of ground-source, heat-pump systems.

All heating systems need to be maintained and regularly inspected by a qualified HVAC contractor. When researching options, consult a contractor in your local area. Use the form on this page to get started.

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