Home Heating Systems — Best Options

In many regions, home heating systems are required for anywhere from three to seven months of the year. Choosing the best heat system for your particular home design can reduce overall heating costs and make for a more comfortable and healthy home.

A house heating system works hand in hand with the home insulation. A poorly insulated home will be hard to heat regardless of the system chosen. Despite this, some methods of domestic heating are best used for poorly insulated homes while other systems are most effective in well insulated homes.

Scroll down for help choosing the best heating method for your home.

Best Heating System Comparisons

Heating System Pros Cons
Electric Forced Air Furnace These are relatively inexpensive house heating systems.

Duct work can also be used to connect to an air conditioning system for cooling during the warmer months.

Easy to connect with a heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system.

High efficiency air filtration can be added to system to reduce symptoms for those suffering from allergies or asthma.
Can feel drafty.

Without air filtration, can make symptoms worse for those suffering from allergies or asthma.

Lowers the humidity of the home so a humidifier may be required at sometimes during the year.
Electric Baseboard Best heating system in regards to price for most well insulated home designs.

Simplest installation.

Excellent heat control on a room by room basis. Unused rooms can have the heat set low.
Poor air flow which can result in excess humidity and unhealthy air quality. Ideally a ducted heat recovery ventilation system should be installed with baseboard heating systems.

Because it does not use ducts, separate duct work may need to be installed for air filtration or air conditioning.
Gas Forced Air Furnace Relatively inexpensive home heating system.

Duct work can also be used for cooling during the warmer months.

Easy to connect with a heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system.

High efficiency air filtration can be added to these house heat systems to reduce symptoms for those suffering from allergies or asthma.
Can feel drafty.

Without air filtration, a forced air furnace can make symptoms worse for those suffering from allergies or asthma.

Lowers the humidity of the home so a humidifier may be required at some times during the year.
Electric Infloor Radiant Due to the fact that it is warmest in the zone where we inhabit the home (down low) the house heat feels more comfortable for the occupants.

No drafts from forced air heating.

The in floor heaters will quickly dry any floors which are sometimes wet such as bathrooms and entrances.

The warm floors make for more comfortable feet.

Excellent heat control for an individual zone or room in the house. The heat can be set low or programmed with a timer for unused rooms or for night time. For instance, bathroom infloor heat systems can be programmed to come on just prior to when you usually wake up and turn off when you usually leave the home.

Can easily be added when remodeling a bathroom or kitchen if you need more heat in a given area.
If you will require cooling during the warmer months, ducts will have to be installed separately for cooling.

This would be an expensive way to heat an entire house. The actual heating mats that go under the finished floor surfaces are expensive.
Hydronic Infloor Radiant Due to the fact that it is warmest in the zone down low where we tend to be in our home, heating from infloor radiant hydronic systems feels warmer and more comfortable for the occupants.

No drafts.

The in floor heaters will quickly dry any floors which are sometimes wet such as bathrooms and entrances.

The warm floors make for more comfortable feet.

The hydronic infloor heating boiler can be used for both heating and domestic hot water.
If you will require cooling during the warmer months, ducts will have to be installed separately for cooling.

Cannot be easily be added when remodeling one part of a home. The heating tubes are set in about 1-1/2 inches of concrete subfloor. Because of the cost associated with installation and equipment, you generally would not use it for just one room or a small part of the house.
Geothermal Heatpumps (Ground Sourced Heat Pumps) Provides both heating and cooling year round.

Very efficient house heating system in terms of the energy required to run the pump as compared to the energy produced by the pump. (Geothermal heatpumps can produce 3 to 4 kilowatts of heat for every kilowatt of electricity used to run the pump.)

Easy to connect with a heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system or a central air filtration device.

The heat pump can also be connected with a domestic hot water heater to help heat the home's hot water.
High initial capital cost.

For small, well insulated homes the initial capital cost may not be recovered for many years.
Air Sourced Heat Pump Easy to connect with a heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system or a central air filtration device.

Simple installation.

Excellent heat control on a room by room basis. Unused rooms can have the heat set low.
In colder climates, less heat energy is available for the heat pump to provide house heat. At temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (or 7 degrees Celsius), air sourced heat pump systems are not effective.


Best Heating System: Analysis Software

Download free home heating analysis software from Natural Resources Canada: HOT2®XP is designed for home owners with low-rise, relatively standard home designs.

For more complicated home designs, see the other free heating system software tools available from Natural Resources Canada.




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