Basics of Heating your Home

There are several methods you can use to heat your home, and when it is this cold outside, these methods are vitally important to your comfort.  You probably know what method you employ in your home, but maybe you don't know all the methods that are available in case you build a new home or need to upgrade.

The Department of Energy has a great section on residential heating systems, but I rearranged some of their methods to hopefully make it a little clearer.  In addition, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has a nice section on several of the heating methods.

Heating your home involves two parts: "Producing" the heat (Heating methods) and moving the heat to where you want it (Heat Distribution).  Below is just an introduction, with more analysis coming in later blogs.  I've tried to simplify as much as possible.  Are we missing anything?

Heat Distribution:

  • Forced Air
  • Radiant

Heating methods

  • Furnace (Gas Fired - Natural Gas and Propane, Oil, Electric)
  • Wood and Pellet-Fuel (Stove, Fireplace, Furnace)
  • Heat Pump (Geothermal and Air Source)
  • Solar Heating (Air, Fluid)
  • Electric Space Heater

Some of these methods can be used to heat your whole home (i.e. natural gas furnace) and some may need to be used in tandem to keep your home at a comfortable level (i.e. Geothermal heat pump with pellet stove back-up).  In future posts, we'll go more in depth on what is the most efficient and how you can best employ the methods to keep your heating bills down!

Here are some other home heating related articles:


Wood furnace

Geothermal heat pump

Electric Space Heater: Sunheat

Electric Space Heater: Edenpure

And for a post on the same topic, but on the technical end of the spectrum:

Heat Pump and Hydronics - A great team for high performance homes

enjoyed our post? let others know: 


I would like to enhance your coverage of geothermal heat pumps.I have a new book now in printing, available 3/15, titled "The Smart Guide to Geothermal, How to Harvest Earth's Free Heat Energy for Heating and Cooling." It is published by PixyJack Press in Colorado.I can send a flier giving more details as an email attachment if you are interested. Thank you Don LLoyd Germantown, NY
ckmapawatt's picture
Don, Will you have a website up promoting the book?
I’m not sure if this is the right place to tell your readers about my biomass related development, but here goes. I’m an independent heating product developer in the UK and have been involved for many years in areas like heat pumps and micro CHP (Stirling and ORC). Recently I’ve turned my attention to the humble wood burning stove and come up with the FHT Stove (Fan Heat Transfer). This patented technology <strong>allows a wood burning stove to be directly connected to any hydronic (wet) heating circuit</strong> including radiator systems, under-floor heating, immersion tanks and thermal stores. This is not just another ‘back boiler’ solution – the FHT Stove technology allows the user to select when/if they want to transfer around half of the stove heat at the flick of a switch. It also helps maintain high combustion temperatures for high efficiency, clean burning with low emissions. With these unique features, the FHT Stove technology gives the stove user unparalleled control over room heat output and displaces fossil fuel heating in the rest of the house. Please take a look at my website <a href="" rel="nofollow"> </a> and let me know what you think. European licenses are currently being discussed with stove manufacturers and I’m now actively looking for US/Canadian manufacturers. Thanks for reading.
I think its also important to add what does the difference between forced air and radiant heat distribution means for the consumer. The main rule is that the convection (forced air) heaters are good for well insulated rooms but are ineffective in drafty spaces, where a radiant heater is a better solution. However, there are more things to consider when buying a space heater mentioning all of them won't fit into a single comment. Reading <a href="" rel="nofollow">space heater reviews</a> gives some some basic knowledge to make the right choice.

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