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Which Type of Heating System is Best?


Which Type of Heating System is Best?


There are many different types of heating systems you will see in a home, but the most common systems you will find in Maine today are hot water baseboard boiler systems, forced air furnace systems, electric systems, and radiant floor heating systems. Let’s explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of system.


HOT WATER BASEBOARD SYSTEMS run off of boilers that distribute heat through water. The water is heated in a central boiler and circulated through a network of pipes throughout the home. These can be fueled by multiple fuel types.

· Pros: Provide even heat, high efficiency, low energy costs, usually requires less maintenance than other systems.

· Cons: More expensive than furnaces to install, boilers can leak if not maintained, difficult to convert to another heating system later, depending on the piping location it could freeze up in winter months in extremely low temperatures.


FORCED HOT AIR FURNACE SYSTEMS work by burning a fuel source to heat air, which is distributed through the home’s forced air system. It is circulated using a blower fan through a series of ducts located throughout your home, where it is delivered via vents or air registers in each room. These can be fueled by multiple fuel types.

· Pros: Furnaces are typically less expensive equipment, there is no water to leak, they are easy to install.

· Cons: Potential impact on air quality, less efficient than boilers, duct installation can be very destructive to buildings and is bulky.


HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS are fueled by your electricity. Extremely energy efficient heat pump technology offers central heating and air conditioning from one unit. Because heat pumps move heat rather than generate it, it uses much less energy than a conventional oil or gas furnace or boiler system. Requiring an outside unit called the condensing unit, the heat pump air handler unit inside the house delivers the heat or cooling. There is no destructive installation of ductwork or piping throughout the house. Heat pumps save homeowners an estimated 30-50% annually in energy costs.

· Pros: Extremely energy efficient, quiet operation, improved indoor air quality, lower utility costs, rebate incentives offered by Efficiency Maine.

· Cons: More expensive than furnaces or boilers to install, may require more than one unit or inside air handler, visible from the outside of the building, some loan types might not accept if it as the primary source of heat in the home.


IN-FLOOR RADIANT HEAT is usually installed beneath the flooring materials of a home built on a concrete slab. Radiant heating works from the ground up, which makes it very even and consistent. It looks aesthetically pleasing because the system is virtually invisible. A Radiant Heating System generates heat using a boiler, just like the Hot Water Baseboard System.

 · Pros: Aesthetically pleasing visually, very even and consistent heat distribution, more efficient because it eliminates duct losses when distributing heat, and doesn’t distribute allergens like a Forced Air System can.

· Cons: Does not work well with through carpet and it can ruin hardwood flooring (best used with laminate), high installation and repair costs, has possible restrictions on furniture placement.

IN CONCLUSION: When it comes to choosing a home heating system in Maine, there are several systems to consider, each with its own set of pros and cons. While boilers and furnaces offer reliability and efficiency, they can be costly and contribute to carbon emissions. Electric Heat Pumps on the other hand, are clean and versatile and provide an eco-friendly alternative, with both heating and cooling capabilities, but their efficiency can vary depending on the climate. Ultimately, the best choice will depend on your specific needs, budget, and environmental concerns. It's essential to weigh these factors carefully and consult with experts to make an informed decision that suits both your comfort and sustainability goals.


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