For Stuart, Florida, residents, it’s time to start thinking about cooler weather and turning on the heat. If your heater was on the fritz last year, heating costs are huge or unit is more than 10 years old, you should consider buying a new one. So where do you start? There are several choices when shopping for a new heating system, and choosing the right one is a matter of knowing all the facts.
Most American homes have a furnace for heating. The system moves warm air through the house via the ductwork and registers. Furnaces generate heat by burning natural gas or propane, fuel oil or via electricity.
Inside a fueled furnace, fuel mixes with air and burns. Flames heat the exchanger where the heat transfers to the air. A blower moves the warm air through the house. Combustion gases such as carbon monoxide are pulled outside through a vent or flue that usually goes through the roof.
Boilers are really just giant water heaters. Hot water moves through pipes to the radiators throughout the house, and warmth generates through radiant heat from the radiator.
Water is heated by burning fuel such as gas or oil. Steam boilers work like water boilers, but send steam into the radiators instead. Steam condenses into water in the radiator and then goes back to the boiler. Steam units use oil or gas.
Heat pumps work like air conditioners by moving cold air outside through refrigerant instead of hot air. These units move air by forcing it through ducts and registers. There are two kinds of heat pumps: air-source, ground-source and geothermal.
Air-source pumps are the most common, pulling warmth from the ambient air outside and using it to heat the indoors. Geothermal systems use the ground’s warmth to heat liquid, transfer the heat to the air and move it through the house. Both types are efficient and use little electricity.
Hybrid heaters combine a heat pump and a furnace. During milder weather, the heat pump generates warmth by using electricity. When the temperature drops to a certain level, hybrid units switch to the furnace heat. Gas heat works faster and is warmer than electric heat.
If you’re fighting freezing weather, gas is a less expensive option. Hybrid heaters use the most efficient heat for the conditions.
Radiant floor systems move warm water in tubes beneath the floor. The floor radiates warmth into the room. Radiant heating is costly to install and limits flooring choices in your home.
Ductless heaters work like heat pumps for creating warmth. Instead of forcing air through ductwork, they exchange heat in units mounted on the wall or ceiling. Ductless systems allow you to control temperatures by zone and are very efficient.
Tips for Buying Heaters
You know what fuel source your heating system uses, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change it. If you have a gas-burning furnace, you can switch to electric or hybrid heat. Research prices, and make a decision based on what you’re willing to spend.
The more efficient a heating system is, the less it will cost to operate. The higher the energy-efficiency ratings, the more a system costs. The government has regulations regarding minimum efficiency levels, so new systems are better than older ones.
Deciding on efficiency levels depends on how long you plan to live in your home. If you move before a more costly unit pays for itself, you lose money.
Consider the manufacturer’s warranty. Most heaters come with 10-year warranties, but some have 15- and 20-year warranties. Look at what the warranty covers as far as parts and labor as well as if you’ll need maintenance records.
Many utility companies offer rebates for high-efficiency heater installation. Check to see if yours offers any. Additionally, you can get state and federal tax breaks for certain kinds of heaters.
Don’t choose a heater without help from a qualified professional. At Preferred Air Conditioning & Mechanical, we offer many types of heaters and will help you make the right choice for your home and family. Call 772-905-3358 to talk to one of our trained service technicians today.
Image provided by Shutterstock