Many homeowners in Deerfield and the surrounding suburbs of Chicago heat their homes using a furnace or boiler system. Although, these traditional methods have been around for many years, new technology has stepped up to make heating more energy efficient, green-friendly and simpler to manage. Take a look at some new heating options that are popular for new builds, renovations and home upgrades.

What’s New In Heating Systems?

Furnaces and Boilers

Furnaces heat air that is distributed through ductwork, while boilers feature a tank that heats water, which is then distributed through radiators, so no ductwork is required. Furnaces and boilers may be powered by gas, oil or electricity.

Right now, if you have access to gas lines, it’s probably your most economical heating system option. Natural gas is also one of the cleaner fuels. Will gas always be cheap and plentiful? No one can say, but at the moment, it’s cheaper than oil, abundant (it’s produced domestically, rather than imported), and the furnaces and boilers that use it require less maintenance. Gas furnaces being the standard nationwide, they are easy for service personnel to work on, and have become more efficient over the last 20 years. The life expectancy of furnaces or boilers is 15-30 years.

Heat Pumps

Another heating option that has risen to the forefront in recent years, the heat pump moves heat by means of refrigerant. Outdoor heat is absorbed and moved indoors for heating, while indoor heat is absorbed  and exhausted outdoors for cooling.

Heating a home with a heat pump in our cooler climate can be a challenge, because as the air gets colder, there’s less outdoor heat for the refrigerant to absorb so that a home may be effectively heated. That means when the outdoor temperature gets close to freezing, the heat pump must switch to either heating with electric coils (very inefficient), or in the case of a hybrid system, to a gas source during the coldest times. Heat pumps are available in air source or geothermal models, but the latter require a substantial investment, and you must either have a large enough outdoor area to accommodate the ground installation, or else have a source of ground water from which to gather heat.

Alternative Heating Sources

Solar Heating

Solar heating requires some means to gather solar energy (usually solar panels on the roof), which then is used to heat a liquid or air. These systems save money on utilities but are costly to install. Even in colder, cloudier climates, however, sufficient sunlight may be collected to make this a viable heating option.

Electric Resistance Heating

This refers to any process for converting electricity to heat. Some of these types of heating make sense for additions where it’s difficult to extend an existing power source such as a furnace that requires additional ductwork. The types of heating equipment that can be powered by electricity:

  • Central forced-air furnaces
  • Room heaters, including baseboard-type heaters (electric or hot water), wall heaters or radiators
  • Space heaters
  • Radiant heating, which distributes heat through the floor, baseboards or wall panels

Obviously, some of these heating sources might also be powered by gas or oil or gas- or oil-burning boilers.

Ductless Mini Split Heat Pumps

Ductless heating is growing in popularity, particularly when homeowners need to condition air in a room that is hard for the main system to cool or heat sufficiently, or where the homeowner does not want to undergo the expense of adding ductwork. These systems have an indoor air handler and an outdoor compressor/condenser. They function like air source heat pumps. Because these systems have no ducts, they do not have the energy losses that are associated with ducted forced air systems or heat pumps. They are also versatile, in that they can be installed with several air handlers, which can be mounted in a variety of ways, from floor to ceiling.

High-efficiency Fireplaces and Fireplace Inserts, Wood Stoves and Pellet Stoves

The newer models of these heating appliances have become more efficient, produce fewer pollutants and are good to have for backup heating if there’s a problem with the power going off or a system malfunction. Proper sizing is important for all these appliances.

For more information on choosing the best heating system for your Deerfield home, contact Roberts Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. Call 847-272-5836 for service in Deerfield as well as the Glenview and Northbrook areas.