There are many different ways to heat a home. Depending on the location and type of home, some heaters may be more effective than others. There isnt necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution for heating homes. Some heaters provide constant, background heat, while others provide shorter blasts of heat.
Forced Air Heater
One of the most common heating systems used in homes is forced air heat. In a forced air system, air is heated in a furnace and distributed via ductwork and released through registers in each room. A variety of sources are used to heat furnaces, including electricity, propane, oil, or natural gas.
Many people like forced air heat because the air can be filtered, humidified and dehumidified. They are also relatively inexpensive to install and maintain. Some people, however, have a difficult time with forced air heat because the air movement can distribute irritating allergens and the furnace fan is often audible.
The most comfortable and natural way to heat a home is the use of radiant heat. In-floor hot water tubes or potbelly stoves are two examples of radiant heat systems that people use in their homes. Basically, heat is directly transferred or radiated from hot to cold surfaces.
In-floor radiant heat systems use water heated by a boiler fueled by oil, propane, natural gas, or electricity. Many people prefer the even distribution of the heat, however, radiant systems take a while to warm up. They are also quite expensive to install and requires separate ductwork if an air-conditioner is also installed.
Hydronic or Hot Water Baseboard Heater
Some homes are heated with a hydronic or baseboard system. In a hot water baseboard system, a boiler heats a space with a combination of radiation and convection. The hot water is piped through a â€œfin-tubeâ€ baseboard mounted along the walls.
Hot water baseboard systems are energy efficient, quiet, and provide people with direct temperature control. It is difficult for people living in smaller spaces to use baseboard heating, as it requires a great deal of space. Units have to remain unobstructed in order to work safely and efficiently. Similar to radiant heat, baseboard systems are slow to warm up.
Steam Radiant Heater
Steam radiant heating systems are not often installed in todays homes, but can still be found in older buildings. People use steam radiant heaters for their nostalgic, aesthetic qualities. The units are usually characterized as upright, cast iron radiators, radiating steamed heat.
There are one-pipe and two-pipe steam radiant heating systems. In one-pipe systems, the hot water and steam travel through one pipe, but in opposite directions. In two-pipe systems, steam flows down one pipe and water condenses in the other. Steam piping and radiator units then distribute the heat. Although efficient and quick to heat up, steam radiant heating systems require a large amount of space and some may consider them to be unsightly.
Gaining in popularity is the use of geothermal heat pumps to provide homes with warmth. Using naturally occurring heat below the earth, geothermal systems are one of the most energy-efficient ways to warm up a home. The geothermal system pumps water through coils buried below the earths surface. The heat from within the earth heats up the water. A fan blows air across the coils, heating it up and pumping it into the home.
Geothermal heat pumps and radiation systems are expensive to purchase and install. They are, however, much more energy efficient and less expensive to maintain over time. One benefit of using geothermal heaters is that during the winter, it pumps warm air into the home, and likewise, in the summer, it can pump the warm air out back into the ground.
With so many different types of heaters to consider, consumers need to conduct detailed research to figure out what the most cost effective and energy efficient method is for their home. The location and size of the home, as well as the climate, need to be considered along with the price of oil, natural gas, electricity, and petroleum.
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