Types of Heating & Cooling Systems

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  • 0:01 Heating & Cooling Systems
  • 0:33 Forced Air
  • 2:04 Radiant Heat
  • 3:36 Baseboard Heat
  • 4:53 Geothermal
  • 6:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

You can choose from a number of different heating and cooling systems to make your home comfortable to live in. Watch this video to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of forced air, radiant heat, baseboard heat and geothermal systems.

Heating & Cooling Systems

Someday, I would love to build a new home. Because I live in the northern half of the United States, my home will need a system for both heating and cooling. There are a number of different options for me to choose from, including forced air, radiant heat, baseboard heat and geothermal systems. Each comes with advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a look at some of the different heating and cooling options and see which one would fit my new dream home best.

Forced Air

One popular heating and cooling option is a forced-air system. This option uses a furnace to force air through ductwork and registers. The furnace heats air, which is then blown through ductwork installed in the house. Ductwork is a system of channels or pipes known as ducts, which move air throughout various rooms.

The ductwork leads to registers, which are small vents within the different rooms. The furnace would need a fuel source, which could be anything from electricity, natural gas, propane or oil.

I think I would like a forced-air system because of its advantages. For instance, it takes care of both heating and cooling, and the system humidifies and dehumidifies the air, which makes the home more comfortable. I also like that it's a bit less expensive to install than some of the other options.

Of course, there are some disadvantages to forced air systems. For one, the ductwork requires space in the walls, beneath floors or above ceilings. Figuring out where to put the ductwork will take some extra planning in my new home, but at least it won't be as bad as trying to install or replace ductwork in an older home. Another thing I might not like is that forced air systems can be noisy and increase air pollutants because the air and dust is pushed through the ducts by a blower or fan. Maybe it would be good to look at other options for my new home.

Radiant Heat

Radiant heat might be a cozy option for a new home. Radiant heat uses the radiation of heat from a surface to heat an area. Radiant heat is much like the warmth we feel from the sun as it radiates toward earth. This type of system can supply heat directly to panels in the floors, walls or ceiling of a home.

Although radiant heat panels can be heated with electricity, a popular radiant heat system used in a home distributes heat through in-floor hot water tubing. The hot water running through the tubes is heated by a boiler that runs on electricity, natural gas, propane, oil, wood or solar.

Radiant heat sounds wonderful. Many people think it's the best option because it's comfortable heat that's evenly distributed through the home. However, I don't think I would go with radiant heat, because the disadvantages are more than I want to deal with. Specifically, I wouldn't like it because it's expensive to install and maintain due to the fact that the hardware is found under the floors or behind walls. Radiant heat also takes a long time to heat a room because you need to wait for the tubing to heat up first. And I think the biggest disadvantage with radiant heat is the fact that it's not a cooling system. Therefore, I would need to go through the additional expense of adding an air conditioner unit as well as ductwork to move the cool air around the house.

Baseboard Heat

Because I want my heating and cooling combined in one system, I would not be happy with baseboard heat. Baseboard heating systems utilize heating elements hidden inside panels that run along the baseboards of the walls. These systems can run on electricity or utilize heated water, which is the case with a hydronic system. Do you see the prefix 'hydro' in this term? That stands for water, and we see that a hydronic baseboard heating system uses hot water baseboards to radiate heat into an area. As with radiant heat, a hydronic system heats water in a boiler that can run on electricity, natural gas, propane, oil, wood or solar. The hot water is then circulated through tubes within the baseboard heating units that sit at the base of the walls within different rooms of the home.

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