A furnace works by blowing heated air through ducts that deliver the warm air to rooms throughout your house via air registers or grills. This type of heating system is called a ducted warm-air or forced warm-air distribution system; which can be powered by electricity, natural gas, or fuel oil.


Boiler systems distribute the heat in hot water, which gives up heat as it passes through radiators or other devices in rooms throughout your house. The cooler water then returns to the boiler to be reheated. Hot water systems are often called hydronic systems. Residential boilers generally use natural gas or heating oil for fuel.

Heat Pumps


During the summer, an air conditioner works by moving heat from the relatively cool indoors to the relatively warm outside. In winter, the heat pump reverses this trick, scavenging heat from the cold outdoors with the help of an electrical system, and discharging that heat inside the house. Almost all heat pumps use forced warm-air delivery systems to move heated air throughout the house.


Refers to systems that circulate warm water in tubes under the floor. This warms the floor, which in turn warms people using the room. It is highly controllable, considered efficient by its advocates, and is expensive to install. It also requires a very experienced system designer and installer, and limits carpet choices and other floor finishes: you don’t want to “blanket” your heat source.

Radiant Floor Heating
Ductless Mini Split


Ductless heat pumps, which distribute energy through refrigerant lines instead of water or air, are widely used. They can have good cold weather performance and be very cost-effective where replacing electric resistance heating.

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