7 Home Heating System Types

The US Department of Energy estimates that home heating uses more energy than any other system in the home, and that, on average, heating accounts for 29% of a typical family’s energy bill. Regular maintenance ensures your heating system is running at peak efficiency, but there comes a time when it’s beneficial to upgrade your aging system. 

There are several types of heating to choose from in the Sacramento Valley, with new and exciting technologies available in different models and sizes to accommodate your home.  In the following article, we’ll provide an in-depth examination of the different types of heating systems, their pros and cons, and how the experts at Service Champions can help you replace your home’s heating system.

An In-Depth Look at the Different Types of Heating Systems

Each of the following types of heating is unique, with features that may suit different home layouts and sizes better than others.

1. Furnaces

Furnaces can be run by gas, propane, oil, or electricity. They work by forcing warm air through a series of ducts to distribute heat throughout the home. Gas furnaces are the most popular type of furnace in the Sacramento area because the distribution system (ductwork) can also be used by your air conditioner during the summer months.

2. Boilers

Boilers use hot water or steam to heat up a system of radiators placed throughout the home. While they are effective, boilers are falling out of favor because they tend to be significantly more expensive to install, and cost more money to run. 

3. Heat pumps

Heat pumps bring air into your home from outside, passing it through an electrical heater and a filter. You can also reverse the flow to send hot air outside to cool the house in hot weather. Because they use refrigerant and electricity to transfer heat rather than generating it directly like a gas furnace, they are often much more efficient than other types of heating systems. Unfortunately, they work best in moderate climates where temperatures rarely dip below freezing.

4. Hybrid heating

Hybrid heating combines the energy efficiency of a heat pump with the power of a gas furnace. Most of the time, the heat pump will operate to heat and cool your home. It is only during extreme temperatures that the furnace kicks on. Because you aren’t just relying on one system, you will reduce significant strain on both units, thus significantly reducing the need for repairs and replacements.

5. Ductless mini-Splits

Ductless mini-splits usually have two parts; one that is indoors, and one indoors, which are connected by tubing and electrical wiring. The heated (or cooled) air comes out of the indoor unit, which is often wall-mounted. No ducts are needed, which allows you to create separate HVAC zones, each with a separate thermostat. This is useful in larger homes and add-on areas that don’t have ductwork installed.

6. Radiant heating

Radiant heating sends hot water or electric heat through special tubes located in the floor (and sometimes in the ceiling or walls). The heat can be generated by oil, gas, propane, or electricity.

While the radiant heating distribution system can last a long time, repairs can be expensive if a problem arises. The lifespan of radiant heat is dependent on its heat source system. 

7. Baseboard heaters

Usually reserved as supplemental heating or heating in an add-on, baseboard heating can be an effective and affordable choice. You have two choices when it comes to baseboard heating: electric or hydronic. 

 Central heating systems like furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps generate heat in the central area of the home and then distribute it throughout the house. You may choose to add a ductless mini split if heating a room without ducts, or a small detached space, or you might prefer to incorporate radiant heating for a luxurious-feeling heated floor. Each system is unique and comes with its own pros and cons. 

At Service Champions, we offer next-day installations, repairs, maintenance, and replacements, and we can help you choose the right heating system for your home.

Factors Influencing Heating System Choice

Some factors to consider when choosing among the different types of heating systems include:

Cold-climate efficiency

The most efficient system for cold climates is a hybrid system that runs primarily on the heat pump until temperatures drop far enough. Once it’s cold enough outside, the furnace will take over, and the heat pump will turn off. 

Your budget

The most cost-effective heating system for most homes is central natural gas heating. Gas furnaces operate more efficiently than electric models, although they have a shorter operating life than electric furnaces. Investing in an appropriately-sized gas furnace for your home will help save you money on your energy bills.

Energy efficiency ratings and certifications

In California, a gas furnace, a heat pump, or a hybrid system is the most efficient heating system for most homes, using less energy overall than the other options. Different systems have different efficiency ratings — in general, the lower the efficiency rating, the less expensive the unit. A good rule of thumb is to buy the most efficient system you can afford.

The California HVAC energy efficiency standard ensures that all new HVAC units installed in the state meet the minimum US Department of Energy standards, which were updated in 2023. A notable update states that all new central air conditioners and heat pumps need to have a 15 SEER efficiency rating.

California requirements are strict, and the regulations are complex. They have been put into place to slowly switch the state’s reliance on gas-burning appliances to higher-efficiency electric units. 

At Service Champions, we ensure all of our new units meet national and state efficiency standards, from ductless mini split systems to high-efficiency heat pumps. We also maintain and repair older units so you can get the most use out of them before it’s time for an upgrade. 

Climate considerations

When choosing an HVAC system for a home, take the climate into account. In humid areas, managing humidity and indoor air quality takes priority, while in cold climates, the main focus is on efficient heating, minimizing heat loss so your family stays comfortable when the temperature dips. 

Different types of heating systems work better for those living in the Mojave Desert than those living along the coast. The Sacramento area has a Mediterranean climate, so humidity management and climate control will likely take priority in your home. At Service Champions, we will assess your needs, and help you choose between the types of heating that will be best for your home. 

Cost, maintenance, and longevity

It may be tempting to choose the unit with the lowest initial cost, hook it up to existing ductwork, and call it a day, but the upfront price is only one piece of the puzzle. Low-cost units will likely be low-efficiency, with higher monthly operating costs, more repairs, and less reliability, especially when they are lesser-known brands. 

Choosing a unit with a higher initial price and upgrading your home’s ductwork for maximum efficiency can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year in maintenance and operational costs, which adds up to excellent savings over time. Trusted brand names generally offer better technological advances — and better warranties.

Other factors to consider

To ensure you get the right type and size of heating system for your home and your comfort needs, your HVAC professional will evaluate factors such as:

  • The size of your home

  • Home design and layout

  • Your home’s insulation level

Don’t worry if you aren’t sure which types of heating systems might be right for your home. The experts at Service Champions are here to help you make an informed decision with accurate data and expert advice and information. 

Call Service Champions For All Your Home Heating Needs

There are many different types of heating systems you can choose from. It’s a big decision, but you don’t have to do it on your own. At Service Champions, we use advanced techniques and state-of-the-art technology to diagnose issues and provide affordable solutions. We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and thanks to our free in-home consultations, our financing services, and our Know Before You Go Program, you will never be left wondering if you can afford your new unit. 

Our team has over 20 years of experience, and we are known for our excellent service throughout the East Bay, South Bay, and Sacramento areas including Pleasanton, San Jose, and Concord. Contact us today to speak with the trustworthy experts for more information on selecting the right HVAC system, or to book your annual maintenance appointment.

How to Extend Lifespan of HVAC System

When it comes to our vehicles, we want to ensure that the lifespan reaches its max. With proper care, vehicles will often exceed mileage expectations. The same is true for your HVAC system. With annual maintenance and careful attention to warning signs, you’ll get the most out of your furnace for years to come.

Choosing a replacement heating system is a big decision. Don’t take it lightly. Speak with the experts at Service Champions for more information on selecting the right HVAC system. We are known for trustworthy, on-time home heating & air conditioning service throughout the East Bay, South Bay, and Sacramento areas including Pleasanton, San Jose, Concord and more.

Related Reading