Oil, natural gas, forced hot air, geothermal, steam – there are several choices of heating systems and sources. Let’s take a look at the types of heating systems for your home.

Heating Fuel Sources

Oil – At one time, oil was an inexpensive heating fuel. In recent years, it has become the second most expensive heating source. The average cost of a gallon of home heating oil is just over $3 per gallon. Back in the early 2000s, it was less than $1.50.

Natural Gas – This fuel is the least expensive heating source. According to the federal Energy Information Administration, the average homeowner pays about $730 annually to heat their home with gas compared to about to about $2,500 for oil.

Electric – By far, this is the most expensive way to heat a home. It generally costs more than oil for the average home. Electric heat is best for small rooms, not for heating an entire home.

Heating Systems

Steam – This tends to be an expensive option since the furnace has to boil the water in order to create steam that heats the radiators. The radiators, however, retain heat once the furnace shuts off keeping rooms warm longer compared to hot air.

Forced Hot Water – This is considered one of the better options. The furnace heats, not boils, the water that is pumped through copper pipes in baseboard heaters. There are metal fins attached to the baseboard pipes that radiate heat.

Forced Hot Air – The most economical and popular system. Air is quickly heated and blown through ducts by high-speed fans in a blower motor in the furnace. The air passes through a filter in the furnace that traps dust and airborne particles. Forced air systems tend to be the most energy efficient. With this system, central air conditioning and a humidifier can be added.

Radiant Heat – Hot water is pumped through tubes under floorboards. This provides an even and comfortable distribution of heat. Installation, however, is costly and it is slow heating since the flooring material has to warm.

Geothermal – Although this has been around for decades, geothermal heating has become popular in recent years for its extremely high efficiency. A piping system – called a loop – a pump and injection well are installed in your yard. A liquid circulates through the loop transferring the heat from the ground into the home and distributed through ducts or a radiant system. In summer, the system removes the heat from the home through the loop into the well. There is no heating source required. An electric powered fan, compressor and pump are the only components.

Check with a heating contractor or a plumber to see which option is best for your home and budget.