The two most common ways to heat a home are through a forced air system or a radiant heat system. Understanding the difference can help you choose a home, upgrade your current system or just learn how to optimize it.
Forced Air Systems
Forced air systems, also called forced hot air heating, starts with a furnace and duct work. The duct work consists of large pipes, usually placed in the attic and crawl spaces. The ducts supply the home with warm air through vents in the ceiling, floor and or walls. Some forced air furnaces use natural gas, propane, fuel oil, electricity, wood pellets or other materials as a fuel source, with natural gas being the most common fuel source.
Radiant Heat Systems
Radiant heat systems come in two common versions. Both are closed loop systems. The first is also called baseboard heating. Tubing containing fluid (usually water) is heated by the furnace and then circulated throughout the home through the pipes or baseboards that are attached to the walls near the floors of a room. The second version uses wires, usually placed in the floor that are heated by electricity. Electric baseboard heat using electricity exclusively rather than a oil or gas furnace as the source of heat.
Pros and Cons
There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of common house heating systems.
Image Source: Baseboarders via HGDesignIdeas