Getting Acquainted With Your Home Heating Systems
The winter months in Kelowna can see fluctuations in weather, with some days reaching chilling temperatures that make you want to curl up under the covers to stay as warm as possible, especially if your furnace is not working properly. To ensure you stay warm throughout the cold season, now is the time to get acquainted with your heating system.
As winter approaches, many homeowners are questioning whether or not their home heating systems are efficient enough, and if there are other options out there that work better and are less of an eyesore than plastic wrap secured over the windows. Before you begin getting acquainted with different home heating systems, inspect your home for any flaws that allow drafts to enter your home and affect the overall temperature. Check your windows, doors, and outlets for any air flow and repair any imperfections. Replacing your heating system while allowing cold air to continue entering your home will cost you a lot of money in the long run.
When it comes to the different systems found in homes throughout the city, there is a lot to know and consider: Some heating systems share components with the home’s cooling system, other systems can provide both heating and cooling features to regulate temperature throughout the year; Some systems are cost saving, while others are cost intensive. Before you go tearing up your ceilings and installing what your local sales person is promoting, it’s important to educate yourself on the different types of heating systems available to you, understand how they work, and look at what is required to ensure you’re getting the most for your investment.
One of the most popular heating systems used in Canadian homes is the forced-air system. Here, a furnace with a blower fan directs warmed air through ductwork and into each room inside home. This system is efficient at controlling room temperature in any season as central air conditioning systems use the same pathways. Forced-air system furnaces can be fueled by natural gas, liquid propane, fuel, oil, or electricity. Because these systems can collect and distribute allergens, making them airborne once the fan blows them through the ductwork and out the vents, it is important to maintain them with regular HVAC cleaning.
Heat pump systems offer an alternative to furnaces and central air conditioners. The systems use electricity to transfer heat from a cool space to a warm space. In summer, the system moves the warm air out of your house, and the cool air from outside, into your home. The winter is the opposite, where the cool air is moved from your home and replaced with the warm air from outdoors. Because they transfer heat, they are efficient in regulating temperature inside the home, keeping it at a comfortable level. Heat pump systems are also a great alternative for homes that do not have ductwork for a forced-air system, and can complement electric baseboard heating systems to reduce heating costs and energy consumption in the home.
Older homes and buildings can often be found with traditional boiler and radiator heating systems, typically in the form of a cast-iron, upright unit, positioned near windows. With this heating system, a central boiler circulates steam and hot water throughout piping positioned around the home. There are two types of radiant heating systems that can be found inside homes:
True Steam Boilers circulate gaseous steam through pipes to individual radiators. The steam is then condensed back to water, and moves back to the boiler to be reheated.
Modern Radiator Systems circulate hot water to radiators through electric pumps. When the hot water reaches the radiator, it releases heat to warm up the space, and the cooled water returns to the boiler for reheating.
Walking barefoot on cold floors first thing in the morning might be one of the most undesired ways to start your day. Fortunately, there is a heating solution for that. In-floor heating is another type of radiant heating system. It differs from forced-air in that it heats furniture and flooring rather than just air. Radiant heating systems generally distribute heat by heated water in a boiler or water heater. Plastic water tubing is installed inside concrete flooring or attached to wood floors, providing consistent heat distribution throughout the home. In-floor systems can also be created from electrical wiring installed under flooring materials, however, this is often only used in small rooms, such as bathrooms, as it can be less energy efficient and installation can be expensive.
A more modern form of radiant heat is the hydronic system, more commonly referred to as the hot water baseboard system. Like other radiant systems, the hydronic system also uses a boiler to heat the water, which then circulates throughout the pipework and is delivered to baseboard heating units. The baseboard heaters then heat the room through small metal fins surrounding the pipe. Hydronic systems are found to be energy efficient and effective at controlling the temperature in a room, however, baseboard heaters must remain unobstructed which can limit furniture placement in the home.
Electric baseboard heaters are often found in older homes. They are expensive to operate and may not be used for primary home heating systems as a result. These heaters are easy to install and require no distribution equipment such as ductwork or pumps, making them ideal for heating basements, home offices, or enclosed sunrooms that are more difficult to keep warm in the winter months.
While these heating systems are most common, some may be costly to install or require regular and expensive maintenance. Talk to a heating and cooling specialist to find what system is best for your home, and your lifestyle. With the right equipment in place, you can relax and stay warm all winter long with peace of mind that your system is the perfect heating solution for you and your family.
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