By definition, a central heating is a system with a single power supply which has the ability to heat a whole house by distributing heat in every room through a network of ventilation ducts or pipes. Energy sources vary according to their availability by region: electricity, oil, gas, propane and wood are the most frequently used.
In Canada, the two principal types of central heating are forced air and hydronic systems:
- Forced air central heating: the air is heated by a furnace (electric, gas or oil) before being distributed in the home through the ductwork
- Hydronic radiant central heating: a boiler powered by electricity, gas or oil, heats water which then circulates through a piping system. The heat is then distributed into each room via a tubing network under the floor.
Forced air central heating
A forced air central heating system is traditionally composed of a furnace and ventilation ducts, but an increasing number of homeowners are opting for the installation of a heat pump as their main heating system, allowing them to achieve significant heating cost savings. The heat pump is then assisted by the furnace which takes over during colder periods. The latest heat pump models offer higher energy efficiency and now operate at much lower temperatures, which represents significant energy savings.
A central heating system offers several benefits. Primarily it provides a constant and uniform comfort level and it increases the air flow throughout the house.
- Possibility of adding air quality accessories such as air purifiers, high efficiency filters, UV lamps and humidifiers for greater comfort
- An increasingly wide choice of ventilation grilles fitting with all types of decor
- Possibility of installing smart thermostats for remote control of temperature
- A significant reduction in energy costs with the installation of a heat pump
Hydronic radiant central heating
In older homes, it is still very common to find hydronic boilers that feed radiators in every room. However, over the years, this type of heating has been replaced with radiant floors which are gaining popularity, and for good reason. Floor heating provides an unequaled and enveloping comfort. One needs to experience it only once to be convinced. Rather than heating the air, the heat emanating from the floor warms people, objects, walls and ceilings, hence an instant feeling of comfort.
Hydronic central heating is advantageous in several ways:
- Enveloping warmth
- Ideal humidity level, does not dry the air
- Reduction of dust and allergy risks
- Silent operation
- Possibility of zoning by room or parts of the home
- Extended life
- Energy savings
- Zero maintenance
- No apparent elements, resulting in flexible interior design
Choosing central heating
The choice of a heating mode has a direct impact on your energy consumption and, ultimately, on your heating bill. Therefore, it makes sense, when possible, to invest in high quality and efficient central heating.
It is also important to choose a heating system adapted to the type of building to be heated and to our harsh winter conditions, while taking your budget into consideration. If a type of system surpasses your budget, keep in mind that it may be wise to invest the additional amount if the system brings you better energy savings and offers superior comfort.