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Heating and cooling systems vary in functionality, build, size, and types. Depending on your need, you might choose a heating system or a cooling system for your home.

I’ll talk about the cooling systems some other day. Today, let’s talk about the heating systems, more specifically the different types of heating system people use in their households.


First of all, we can generalize the heating systems in two different categories. One is Central Heating Systems and the other is Direct Heat Systems. When we talk about heating systems, we think of the central heating systems. The direct heat systems are more like the traditional heating systems that people used back in the day. Their popularity is decreasing every day.


The most common central heating systems are –

         I.            Furnaces

       II.            Boilers

     III.            Heat Pumps


The most common direct heating systems are –

         I.            Gas-Fired Space Heaters

       II.            Unvented Gas-Fired Heaters

     III.            Electric Space Heaters


Now, let’s talk about them in detail.


1.   Furnaces

These are perhaps the most common types of heating systems used throughout the world. Almost 90% of the households in North America use furnaces to keep the rooms warm.

These furnaces work by flowing warm air through the air ducts from room to room and run by electricity, fuel oil or natural gas. The inside of the furnaces heats up the air and then this heated air is pushed through the air ducts. The gas run furnaces are called Gas Furnaces, the oil run furnaces are called Oil Furnaces and so on.

They are also known as forced warm-air distribution system or ducted warm-air system.

Like any other vented HVAC systems, these heated systems also require constant monitoring, even the air ducts. Whenever you see molds in duct and they are growing, call the air duct cleaning services and clean it up before it makes you and your family sick.  


2.   Boilers

Boilers are specialized heating systems that heat water. Unlike the furnaces which heat air and flow heat by the warm air, these boilers heat water and pass heat through warm water. This heat is passed through the radiators and other parts into the rooms.

The heated water after passing the heat into the rooms loses its temperature. Then the cold water returns to the boilers. There, this cold water is heated again in the boiler and passed through the rooms to heat the air. These boilers, especially the residential or commercial HVAC boilers are also known as hydraulic heaters or hydraulic boilers. The boilers run on natural gas or fuel oil.


3.   Heat Pumps

Heat Pumps are another popular type of heating system that people use in their households. They are comparatively complex and works more efficiently compared to other heating systems. The biggest advantage of heat pumps is they can be used both heating and air conditioning systems.

In summer, the heat pumps collect heat from the high-temperature rooms and exert the heat to the outside environment. But in winters, it works the opposite way. In winter, the heat pumps take heat from outside and push the heat into the living rooms.

These heat pumps have two primary sources to extract heat. The source can be either air or ground. The air source heat pumps are simply called Air-Source Heat Pumps and the ground source heat pumps are called Ground-Source Hear Pumps or Geothermal Heat Pumps.

Since the heat pumps are complex, the AC repair cost will be higher. But the AC maintenance & repair costs are like your AC installation and AC Replacement bills, you gotta bear them anyways. After all, these are machines.

But since these heat pumps can do both heating and cooling, I’d say it’s worth it.


4.   Gas-Fired Space Heaters

From here on, the rest of the air conditioning units or more specifically, the heating units are Direct Heating units and one of the most popular ones are Gas-Fired Space Heaters.

These heaters can be wall mounted, floor furnaces or free standing and the best part is, they do not require vents which means you don’t have to worry or pay for air duct cleaning services. However, these heaters are not the most efficient ones as they offer very little heat. They are not like your typical central ac unit, which is why they are used to heat a single bedroom and nor the entire house or commercial space.

Most of the models of these heaters use natural gas or propane. Very few of them use Kerosene to burn.


5.   Unvented Gas-Fired Heaters

Unvented Gas-Fired Heaters are very much like the Gas-Fired Space Heaters. Like the previous ones, they do not require air vents to flow the heat. That’s why they are called Vent-Free heaters. Like the Gas-Fired ones, these also come in a wall mounted setup or a free-standing setup. They also use natural gas or kerosene to burn. But they are much more efficient in heating the rooms quickly.

However, these units may cause fire hazards and that’s why many states have prohibited the dwellers to use it. I would also suggest to avoid this one and go for another safe and efficient HVAC system.


6.   Electric Space Heaters

Among all the direct heating air conditioning units, these are perhaps the safest ones. Also, they are very inexpensive. However, as much as they are cheap to buy, they are as much as expensive to maintain. I am not just talking about the AC services & repair. I am talking about the energy bill.

They consume energy like an iron and since you are using it for hours, the electricity bill is going to pile up. Apart from that, these are easy to use, just plug it in and you are ready to go.