Choosing a heating and cooling system that suits your home

August 31, 2016

From the experts at Milani Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning

Having a heating and cooling system in your home has never been more important.

Michael Hoang, Marketing Coordinator, Milani Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning »

Canada’s weather is defined by extremes: Scorching hot summers. Bitterly cold winters. That’s why you can never downplay the importance of properly cooling and heating your home. With so many types of heating and cooling systems on the market today, what are the most common ones? Their pros and cons? And which one best suits your home? Here are some guidelines to help you choose.

Choosing a heating and cooling system that suits your home

Home heating and cooling systems: the basics

When it comes to heating and cooling your home, there are a few systems that stand out as popular choices.

Central heating and cooling

Usually centrally located in your home, this type of system distributes warmth throughout your house by forcing hot air through ducts or hot water through pipes.

  • A furnace or heat pump heats the air, then a fan blows it through the ducts.
  • A boiler is commonly used to raise the water’s temperature, which is then pumped through the pipes.
  • In contrast, cold air is created by an air-conditioner, heat pump or ductless system.

Hydronic heating

Although most homes use the familiar forced-air system, Michael Hoang, Marketing Coordinator at Milani Plumbing, Drainage & Heating, explains some use a hydronic (water-based) system whereby “hot water travels through pipes in floorboards throughout your home. It heats up the actual floor and that heat radiates up into the walls.”

Ductless systems

A ductless system typically consists of two or three units placed inside the home, usually near the living room and the bedroom.

  • “A ductless system is like a much smaller heat pump,” says Hoang, adding, “A heat pump’s advantage is that it can both cool and heat your home.”
  • The benefit of ductless vs. a central system is instead of tying into an existing duct system, it blows cold or warm air into specific rooms.

Advantages of the various heating and cooling systems

Because choosing a heating and cooling system is an important decision, it’s good to weigh the advantages of each to help ensure you install one that best suits your needs.

Generally, with central heating and cooling systems the main pluses are:

  • The system responds quickly when a user adjusts the temperature.
  • The system can heat up the entire home.
  • Air filtration and adjusted humidity provide comfortable, healthy indoor air.
  • Central air-conditioning provides humidification and dehumidification.
  • Lower fuel costs associated with heat pump options.

More specifically:

Forced air central systems

  • Can be used year-round to heat or cool your home.
  • Lower installation cost associated with furnaces.

Hydronic central systems

  • It’s clean. “With forced air, you’re blowing air and eventually dust will settle and collect in the ducts,” says Hoang. Good filters can maintain clean air quality “but you don’t have to worry about that kind of stuff when you have a boiler because there’s no air blowing around.”
  • A hydronic system doesn’t make any noise.
  • Heat tends to be very even as heat from the water spreads through the floors and up the walls. “When you walk across the floor, it feels really nice,” explains Hoang. “It’s luxurious!”

Ductless systems

  • It’s efficient and better for the environment. What's more, heat pumps are electric, so they don’t use any gas and need not be hooked up to a gas line.
  • With a multi-split ductless system, you can customize the temperature using a remote so that one room is hotter or colder than another. “If you think about it, you don’t need air-conditioning throughout your whole home,” says Hoang. “You only really need it where you’re hanging out, which is usually the living room, or where you sleep. A ductless system makes more sense a lot of the time.”
  • You can save money because you can control the temperature in one room instead of asking the system to heat or cool the whole house.
  • It takes up less room. Hoang adds that wall units don’t necessarily detract from the decor; in fact, they can even add to it. “If you look at them, they’re actually pretty attractive because you can dress them up to look like artwork almost.”

Disadvantages of the various heating and cooling systems

Forced air central systems

  • It’s not environmentally friendly. “Air is blowing throughout the home, which blows up allergens and dust,” says Hoang. He adds that with the right filters and regular duct cleaning (about once every two years), this can be easily managed.

Hydronic central systems

  • The system can only provide heat. Cooling requires a separate unit, such as an air-conditioner or a ductless system.
  • Hoang says that while a hydronic system won’t melt any construction materials, it shouldn’t be too close to a toilet because it could melt the wax seal.

Ductless systems

  • More costly upfront. “Heat pumps aren’t cheap,” says Hoang. On the other hand, “you’re getting air-conditioning and heat. There’s a huge advantage to that.”

Explore your options before you decide

Exploring your options for the best heating and cooling system requires a lot of thought, with advantages and disadvantages associated with each one. It’s important to choose a system that’s right for you and your family to help ensure your comfort for years to come.

Milani Plumbing Drainage Heating & Air Conditioning has been serving the residents of Burnaby since 1956. We provide emergency repairs and maintenance for HVAC systems, and also plumbing. Call us today.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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