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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

What is the most common type of heating system?

The most common type of home heating system is a forced-air heating and cooling system. This type of heater involves a furnace, which is commonly powered by natural gas, forcing air through a series of ducts that distribute the hot air through different rooms in a house. Furnaces can run on other types of fuel, including electricity, propane and oil. This type of heating system is quite popular because it doubles as a path for air conditioning in the summer.

What is the most efficient heating system for a house?

Geothermal heating tends to be the most efficient way to heat a house when compared to traditional HVAC systems, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Geothermal heat pumps (also called ground-source heat pumps) transfer energy to and from the ground to supply heat, cool air and hot water.

Note that one of the most important ways to boost efficiency, save electricity and lower your heating bills is to make sure your house is weather-tight and well-insulated.

How much does it cost to install a heating system?

The cost of a heating system depends largely on the type and size of the heating system. For example:

To find out how much your new heating system will cost, contact heating and air companies near you and ask for free cost estimates.

How much does it cost to replace a gas furnace?

The cost to replace your gas furnace will vary based on the type and size of furnace you select, labor and installation costs, and any repairs your HVAC system may need. Nationally, average HVAC prices for a heating specialist range between $1,800 and $2,500. It’s important to select the right size gas furnace for your heating needs. A furnace that’s too small won’t heat your house properly, while a furnace that’s too large will run inefficiently, cycling on and off and likely breaking down sooner. HVAC specialists calculate your exact heat needs by measuring your home and incorporating variables such as the regional climate and your home’s level of insulation. Retail pricing for gas furnaces can range from $650 up to $3,000 and more. The higher the AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating of the furnace, the more efficient it is at turning fuel into heat and the lower your carbon footprint and utility bill will be. HVAC installation costs are often based on an hourly rate and can range from under $50 to over $100 per hour, depending on the company and the furnace being installed. Higher-end furnaces cost more to install because they require added labor and expertise. For a typical installation, it might take two HVAC installation pros one day or less to remove your old furnace and replace it with a new one.

How long does it take to install a new heating system?

A new heating system generally takes a few days to install. Jobs that require new ductwork will take more time. And switching to a different type of heat fuel — propane, natural gas, oil or electricity — may require longer installation times as well, as they could require routing piping, regulators and other adjustments to your home.

How does a central heating system work in a house?

A central heating system consists of a boiler, heat pump or furnace. The furnace contains several parts, including burners that deliver and burn fuel, a blower, heat exchangers, a blower and a flue. The furnace will push air through the heat exchanger. Then, it will pump the warmed air through your air ducts to distribute heat throughout your home.

In the summertime, a central heating system can also provide air conditioning to cool and dehumidify your home.

What is a dual fuel heating system?

Dual fuel systems combine two types of heat fuels — typically gas and electric, the latter in the form of a heat pump — to boost heating performance and efficiency. These systems work with your furnace to deliver both hot and cold air.  A major advantage lies in the power of a heat pump, which provides cool air in the summer and heat in the winter.

What is a radiant heating system?

A radiant heating system can be installed in your floors or wall panels. A radiant floor heating system warms your home from the ground, providing uniform heating throughout your home. These systems are quiet, and they don’t require ductwork.

How does a hot water baseboard heating system work?

In a hot water baseboard heating system, a boiler heats water and then the water passes through the system’s pipes and into the baseboard radiators in your home. Baseboard heating systems are generally quiet, and you’ll experience less heat loss when compared to a forced-air system. However, you can’t use radiant basement heating for cooling purposes.

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