The good thing about shopping for a heating system for your type of home is that there are plenty of options. You’ll find electric baseboard units, oil or natural gas furnaces, woodstoves, masonry fireplaces, radiant heating systems and heat pumps. The important thing is to choose the one that will work best in your type of home.
How big is the space you need to heat?
The square footage of your living space is a determining factor in choosing a heating system that’s suited to your type of home.
- If your house has a surface area of around 1,000 square feet, a geothermal system won’t be worth the installation costs.
- If your house is around 3,000 square feet, an open fireplace won’t be able to keep up.
Where do you live?
Another important factor to consider is your location. Digging up your yard to install a geothermal system can be tricky on small suburban lots. And burning firewood is no longer permitted in some cities and towns. Find out about your municipality’s bylaws regarding excavation, renovation and wood burning.
What is your budget?
Your financial situation will determine how big a change you can make in your home heating system. You’ll need to factor in purchase and installation costs, annual maintenance costs and energy costs. You may decide that instead of replacing your whole system, you’ll use the existing ductwork along with a heat pump. Alternatively, you could add some radiant heating under the bathroom floor or in the basement rec room.
What are your preferences?
- If your finances allow it, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck with a radiant heat system installed under the floor. This kind of heat is evenly distributed and home owners love the cozy ambiance that a warmed floor creates. It can easily be installed under ceramic tiles. On the down side, the cost of radiant floor heating can be high.
- A masonry fireplace delivers sustained heat over a long period of time; just remember that it takes a bit of time to get things warmed up in the morning.
- If you like the kind of heat put out by a forced air furnace, make sure you have enough space to accommodate the ductwork. If your street is not served by a natural gas network, then a natural gas furnace won’t be suitable. Keep in mind that oil furnaces are increasingly expensive to operate as fuel oil costs continue to rise.
- Electric baseboard heaters provide a gentle, diffused heat. They also allow you to control the temperature settings in different rooms more easily. It is more difficult to synchronize the heating of all your rooms with a timer, however.
- If you are planning to build a new home, this may be a good time to get the financing for a geothermal system. A geothermal unit is costly to install but pays itself back over the long term.
- Keep in mind that it’s not economical to heat your home all day and night. Use a timer thermostat and set the heat to come on a little while before you get up in the morning and just before you get home from work.