About Central Heating Systems
Energy Efficient Heating Tips
Hot air. A hot air system uses sheet metal, fiberglass, or plastic duct to route to habitable spaces. Heated air comes from a furnace or heat pump and is blown into the duct by a built-in fan. These systems are generally the least expensive to install, but the fan makes a slight noise that can be heard in the living spaces. In addition, the air is blown around the rooms and stirs up dust, and the heat is not distributed as evenly as it is by hot water radiators.
Hot water. A central boiler heats water that is pumped through 3/4 inch pipes to radiators and baseboard heaters. These systems are by far the most expensive to install in most homes. The boiler itself is much more than a furnace, although a system of baseboard heaters is sometimes a little less expensive to install than is ductwork for a hot air system- the amount of demolition and reconstruction for the ducts determines the relative cost. An average gas water system cost almost twice as much like a hot air system.
Steam. A steam system works almost the same as a hot water system, but it runs steam rather than hot water in the pipes. Steam systems aren't seen much anymore and are rarely used to replace other heating systems except in apartment buildings.
Space heat. Central heating need not warm every room in the house. Where it does not, space heaters can be used. Some space heater model is free-standing, others attach to a wall. They are fueled by oil, gas, kerosene, or electricity. Electric strip heaters that run along baseboards are essentially space heaters.
Accessories. No system goes quite alone. When deciding which system to buy, consider additional costs. These boil down to five:
1. New service equipment. If a source of fuel is not already in place, it will have to be added. this can be a gas line and meter, wall, an oil tank, and piping through an exit wall, or if you are going to add electrical resistance heat, a heat pump, or air conditioning- enough electrical capacity with an attendant meter, cable, and breaker panel. The cost can range from $350 to $1200.
2. Supply lines to the new equipment. All central heating systems need some wiring from the breaker panel. In addition, a gas system needs a gas line leading from the gas meter, and an oil system needs a pipeline leading from the oil tank.
3. Flue. Oil, gas, wood, and coal systems need flues. There are inexpensive flues for gas systems; either simple through-the-wall types or, for some high-efficiency gas burners, plain plastic pipes. However, a standard flue for a gas system costs from $300- $700. A metal insulated flue that is permissible for oil and wood burning carries price tags of $600 to $1000 for an average one-story installation. A masonry chimney that can be used for any combustion gases costs $1500 to $3000 (Built by a contractor) for a 1 1/2 story house; the cost is less than half as much as if you do it yourself.
4. Fireproofing. Wood or coal stoves and oil heaters sometimes require floor and wall to be fireproof. Some building code requires that a room housing a furnace or boiler have fire-rated walls and floors-this is mandatory when the heater is placed in a closet adjacent to a living area.
5. Carpentry. Central heating systems often require the demolition and repair of walls, floors, and roofs to run ducts, pipes, electrical cables, and flues. These costs must be considered.
Option 3: The best choice 17,500 Btuh gas wall heater plus a window air conditioner.
Decision: The 7-year cost, including purchase and use, of option 3 is $900 less than that of option 1 and $650 less than that of option 2 . Therefore, option 3 is the best buy if you already have a gas line coming into the home. If you do not, Option 2 would be the best choice, because the cost of the gas hookup would overweigh the purchase and operating savings of option 3 over Option 2.