Three Tips to Help You Choose the Right Heating System
  • Posted on November 22, 2021
  • By Rod Miller
Sad broke poor person unable to pay electric bill suffering from cold in her own unheated home during winter

I can’t believe my heating system just broke. Should I get a different system to replace it?

I know my heating system’s running right now. So why are only certain rooms in my house heated?

I’m building a new home. How do I decide what heating system I will go with?

If any of the situations above fit you this fall, you might be reevaluating or evaluating what type of heating system to use for your home. Choosing a new system or replacing an old one can be a daunting task.

We want to make it simple for you. In our 50 plus years of servicing, we’ve learned a thing or two about replacing and installing HVAC systems. So here are four questions to help you find the best heating system fit for your home.

1.  Find Out What Your Home is Equipped for

This question is almost always your starting point when you’re considering heating systems. (Especially If you are simply looking to replace an outdated or damaged system.)

Want to know a little secret? It’s often your ending point as well. Why?

Because the answer usually determines what you should purchase to replace your old one.

Do you have a hydronic heating system? Get another one. Forced-air furnace? Stick with that. Heat pump? You get where we’re going with this.

If you have one of these HVAC systems, (they are the most common in America) you should keep your system status quo. It’s generally the most convenient and cost-effective option.

To sum up, you should almost always replace your old system with the same type of system you had before. Your home is already equipped for it.

For those of you building a new home, the next section should supply you with answers.

2. Look Into the Utilities That are Available to you.

The next step in your heating system journey comes down to one word: utilities.

What is available to you to power your system can have a huge influence on which system you choose. New homeowners– this tip is especially for you.

Why should you be aware of the utilities you can use for your system? Here are a few reasons:

  • Not all utilities are cost-effective for you
  • Some utilities don’t have reliable delivery service near you
  • Some utilities are in limited supply

To keep it simple, we’ve made a list of the most common utilities used in Maryland.

  • Natural gas is the most common option in Maryland. This utility is well-suited to the local climate and is used for hydronic heating systems and forced-air furnaces. It delivers high temperatures fairly easily without running up costs.  Natural gas is typically the best and most cost-effective option if it is what most homes in your area use.
  • If natural gas is not available, Electrically powered heating is most likely your next option. Heat pumps and newer mini heat pumps or ductless units use this utility. (A ductless could be your solution to an unevenly heated home.)  A heat pump can be expensive to install but it can save cost in the long run. However, it can be expensive to repair because it has more moving parts than a furnace.

Propane gas is also a viable option. It is less common but still available for some homes in Maryland. It is used for forced-air furnaces. It is typically more expensive than natural gas but less expensive than the electric option. It has the same heat efficiency as gas furnaces. Two major drawbacks include the finite supply of propane and how easily the furnace can be damaged if the propane tank is not refilled regularly.

  • Oil is the final and least used option. This utility is used for forced-air furnaces and is most often seen in rural areas. While it is as efficient as other furnaces fuels, it can be tricky to find a reliable oil delivery service and can be very messy to maintain.

Each option has its pros and cons. Choosing your heating system can be easy if you look at what utility works best for your home and your areas.

3. Figure Out the Level of Efficiency you Want

Understanding heat efficiency is crucial to finding the best heating system fit for your home.

An efficient heating system will generate the most heat in your home for the least amount of fuel waste. That’s the basic definition. Seems simple, right?  Unfortunately, things can get a lot more complicated when looking at the different types of heating systems and their overall efficiency. Here are the most common heating systems and their efficiency levels.

  • Heat pump systems are generally considered to be highly efficient. For heating purposes, the efficiency is measured by the heating season performance factor (HSPF) rating, which measures a heat pump’s average ability to extract heat from the outdoor air. Typically, the higher number, the better. As of April 2021, the minimum HSPF allowed for a heat pump was 8.2.
  • Forced air furnaces are also efficient and used the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. This rating is calculated by the percentage of fuel that is converted to useable heat. Exactly like its counterpart, a higher number is better. Most furnaces are labeled with the AFUE rating so you don’t have to calculate it yourself. An AFUE of at least 80 is the lowest allowed in the U.S.

We recommend a mid-efficiency unit to avoid installing obsolete equipment with low-efficiency ratings. Installing mid-efficiency equipment can also come with the benefit of avoiding high-efficiency equipment that has a larger price tag. However, we also highly recommend customers should consider all options and choose what’s best for them in the long run.

Need Help Selecting your New Heating?

Hopefully, after learning about these tips, you feel more confident about finding the right heating system for you.

Whether you still feel unsure or you are ready to install, give us a call or request a quote for installation today.

You can always trust your heating system needs and your home with us.

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