Central heat distribution was practiced by the Romans but has been perfected with today’s knowledge and technology. Today’s boilers modulate their heat input to match the weather outside and high efficiency furnaces change their blower speed to deliver even, quiet comfort. Changing your old equipment for something new can save you thousands of dollars a year in operating costs, reduce the space you need for the equipment, lower the operating noise and improve your comfort level immensely.
Hydronic heating, or systems using heated water, can be as diverse as the people who use them. Options range from small baseboard radiators to larger wall or floor mounted units (remember those old cast iron radiators your Grandmother had?), to fan assisted coils and today’s favourite – radiant floor heating.
Radiant floor heating uses tubing laid in concrete floors or in-between suspended flooring systems to deliver warm even heat across the entire floor. Comfort is unmatched and the lack of grilles, registers or radiators frees up the space architecturally. With no need to worry about furniture placement or length of drapery, the space can be furnished and decorated as you want without limitations. Radiant floor heating is slower to bring up to temperature when your place is cold, but oh, so comfortable when it’s warm. Temperatures can be thermostatically controlled, room by room – meaning you save money by not heating areas that are rarely used. Turn them back up when you know guests will be arriving.
Furnaces provide quicker warm up than hydronic heat. You can control humidity and air quality for controlling specific allergies. Heating is forced around your home usually with control from a single, centralized thermostat. Expect a lower installation cost, but plan for dropped ceilings, particularly on lower floors to accommodate for ducting. Grilles can vary from standard plastic to custom made wood to match your flooring.
Heat pumps can be hydronic or air heaters. They vary from air to air products, which can use a furnace to distribute heat to ground source, and air to water units which can heat radiant floor heating and domestic hot water. Efficiencies are exceptional and heat pumps are highly recommended especially in areas without natural gas.
Another popular method is split system heat pumps. This method utilizes an outdoor compressor unit and smaller, wall or ceiling mounted ‘heads’ which use refrigeration lines to transfer heat (and cooling) to a number of areas without the need for ducting.
Fireplaces are a popular ‘spot’ heating method. The concept is to use high efficiency fireplaces to provide heat to main Family areas and then use auxiliary heating (i.e. electric baseboard) for less frequented areas such as bedrooms.
The main thing is to comfortably heat your home, based on how much you can afford, how much you want it to cost to operate and what level of comfort you demand. Be happy when you heat!
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