If you're remodeling an old house and need to put in a new heating system, you have more choices than you may think. While a central furnace is common, you may have reasons for not wanting to install a big furnace with ducts. The alternate system you choose will depend on a number of factors. For instance, you won't be able to use solar heating if there isn't enough sunlight on your property. Here's a look at some of the choices in residential heating, along with their advantages.
Hydronic heating involves heating your home with hot water. This is done with a water heater or boiler that can operate on gas or electricity. The hot water can then be fed to radiators in each room to keep your home warm. You can also use hydronic heating with your floors. This is done by covering the underside of your flooring with tubes that circulate hot water. The hot water heats up your floors and the heat then rises throughout the room. The advantage of hydronic floor heat is that it eliminates problems with chilly floors. Even better, the system can heat a room evenly so there are fewer cold pockets of air like you get with a forced-air furnace.
A heat pump could be a good choice if you don't want to devote space in the home to a large indoor furnace and ducts. A heat pump has two parts, and the largest part is placed outside near your house. It connects directly to an indoor air blower that mounts on the wall. A heat pump system takes up very little space, and it eliminates the need for ducts. An advantage of this type of residential heating system is that the heat pump can reverse and act as an air conditioner during the summer.
A fireplace can add supplemental heat to a large home, or it might heat an entire small home. A gas fireplace is much more efficient than a wood-burning fireplace, and you can control the heat and flames to get the temperature you want. A gas fireplace may not be the ideal choice for every home as a heating option, but one advantage it has is that it adds a nice ambiance to your home and that it's relaxing to watch the dancing flames.
A pellet stove is similar to a fireplace in that it can provide relaxing entertainment, and it can also heat your entire home if your home isn't too large. However, a pellet stove needs daily tending to fill the hopper and empty the ashes. Plus, you have to store pellets for the winter. The advantage of a pellet stove is that it is much easier to operate than a wood-burning stove or fireplace that you have to fuss over frequently to keep the fire burning. As long as you fill the hopper daily, a pellet stove can feed itself and keep the warmth going.
After examining your alternative options, you may decide in the end that a forced-air furnace is best for your remodeled home. If you have concerns about placement of the unit or ducts, talk to a residential heating contractor and get advice on the best way to install your furnace so it fits in with your remodeling plans.