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3 Common Types of Heating Systems and How They Work

3 Common Types of Heating Systems and How They Work

Here at Arthur Hagar, we know pretty much everything there is to know about the heating and cooling systems that are used in most American homes. We have built up our HVAC knowledge and skills for more than sixty years, and in that time we have provided residents of Fort Worth with industry-leading furnace installations, heat pump installations, home heating repair services, and more.

In today’s post, we want to provide an introduction to three common types of heating systems. Which one does your home use? Are you missing an opportunity to save money or make your home more comfortable? Read on to learn more, and be sure to contact us to request an estimate or schedule a service call with our HVAC contractors.

1. Furnaces

Most North American households use a central furnace to provide heat throughout the entire home. Furnaces can be powered by electricity, natural gas, or fuel oil, and they work by heating up air and then blowing it through ducts to deliver warmth to rooms throughout the house. This type of heating system is also sometimes called a ducted warm-air or forced-air distribution system.

If you have an oil or gas furnace, here’s how the process works:

  1. Inside the furnace, the fuel is mixed with air and then burned.
  2. These flames heat up a metal heat exchanger, transferring the warmth to air.
  3. Air is forced through the heat exchanger with a fan and then pushed through the ducts
  4. Back at the furnace, any combustion byproducts are vented out of the building.
  • Older furnaces vented directly to the atmosphere through chimneys, wasting roughly 30% of the overall fuel energy to keep the exhaust hot enough to safely rise out of the home.
  • Modern low-efficiency furnaces reduce this fuel waste by using an inducer fan to create a draft that pushes the exhaust through the chimney.
  • Modern high-efficiency furnaces cool the exhaust down until the vapor in the air condenses into water, which is vented out through a flue pipe.

Homeowners can save hundreds of dollars on their energy bills by making the switch to high-efficiency furnaces and scheduling regular furnace maintenance.

If you need furnace repair or are interested in a furnace replacement, then contact the HVAC specialists at Arthur Hagar to schedule your appointment in Fort Worth.

2. Boilers

While furnaces work by heating up air, boilers function by heating up water. Instead of using fans and ducts to circulate hot air throughout the home, boilers use a series of pumps, pipes, and radiators to distribute heat. Most modern boiler systems are powered by natural gas or heating oil for fuel.

This fuel is burned inside the boiler to heat up water, which is then pumped through pipes in the walls to reach radiators throughout the house. Radiators, as their name implies, radiate heat outward into the room. As the water cools, it is sent back to the boiler to be re-heated and re-distributed.

Some state-of-the-art hot water systems may also force heated water through pipes in the floor in a system called “radiant floor heating.” If you hate having cold feet in the winter time, consider getting radiant floor heating installed in your home. There’s nothing like stepping your cold toes out of bed and onto a nice warm floor in the dead of winter.

Some boilers use steam instead of water to spread heat throughout the home, although these are far less efficient and far less common these days.

3. Heat Pumps

Lastly, let’s look at heat pump systems. Essentially, these are two-way air conditioners — in the summer time, an air conditioner will move heat from the relatively cooler indoor environment to the relatively warmer outdoor environment. During winter, the heat pump reverses this process, utilizing an electrical system to scavenge heat from outside and discharge it inside the house. To spread this heat throughout the house, almost all heat pumps use a forced-air system (like the ones furnaces use).

There are two main types of heat pumps:

  1. Air-source heat pumps pull heat from the air.
  2. Ground-source heat pumps, also called geothermal heat pumps, pull heat from pipes buried underground, where year-round temperatures are more consistent. Although air-source heat pumps are more common, cheaper, and easier to install, they are far less efficient than their ground-source counterparts.

Since heat pumps only require electricity to move heat, and not to generate it, they can deliver more energy than they consume. This makes heat pumps a pragmatic choice for anyone who wants to live more sustainably, or simply cut down on their monthly energy bills.

Get Ready for Winter With Arthur Hagar

If you live in or near Fort Worth, and are interested in getting your heating systems ready for winter temperatures, then contact the HVAC technicians at Arthur Hagar! We can provide furnace, boiler, or heat pump installations or maintenance to make sure you stay safe and warm all season long.

Contact us to request your quote or schedule a service appointment today.

4 Tips to Extend the Life of Your Heat Pump

Your heat pump serves an important purpose in your life: heating and cooling your home! Your unit should last you for decades to come, and regular maintenance can help it last even longer. It can also help small issues from becoming big problems that require pricey repairs. If you take care of your heat pump,… Continue Reading


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