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Download our new home maintenance guide. Houses don’t come with manuals. This guide is the next-best thing, giving you the tips, checklists and resources you need to protect your house against weather and age.

Heating and Air Conditioning

heater-repair-300x200When deciding whether to upgrade your heating system, take into account the relative cost of fuel, the year-round efficiency of the system, and the existing features and condition of the home. Heat pumps can provide both heating and air conditioning. Some older homes may have oil burning furnaces, electric baseboard or other forms of electric heat that are both costly and wasteful.

What you Should Know

Heating systems are usually classified by the type of fuel they use. Modern furnaces and boilers use natural gas, and heat pumps use electricity. Natural gas is less expensive than electricity, but heat pumps are more efficient than furnaces or boilers, overall. One advantage of heat pumps is that they can also operate as air-conditioners.

Fuel Relative Cost Efficiency
Natural Gas Low 90+%
Electricity High 300%*

 Benefits and Drawbacks

System Benefits Drawbacks
Natural Gas Furnace
  • High temperature from vents
  • Low installation cost
  • Potential for carbon monoxide (CO) danger**
  • Fossil fuel
  • Ductwork required

Natural Gas Boiler

  • Very efficient
  • Combine with hot-water system
  • Can use existing radiators
  • Potential for carbon monoxide (CO) danger**
  • Fossil fuel
  • High installation cost

Electric Heat Pump

  • Very efficient
  • Heating and A/C
  • Lower temperature from vents
  • Ductwork required
  • High installation cost

Electric Ductless Heat Pump

  • Low installation cost
  • Zonal heating and A/C
  • No ductwork
  • Lower temperature from vents
  • Aesthetics
  • Usually requires an auxiliary heat source

Cost and Lifetime Value

heating-cost-value-202x500

Want to learn even more?

Get Started

Thinking of starting a project? The first step is to schedule your 100 Point Performance Check to find opportunities to improve the efficiency, safety and health of your home.

Get Started Now

*Efficiencies greater than 100% are explained by relatively complex science. Heat pumps move heat rather than “create” it (by burning fuel as a furnace does).

**Because natural-gas combustion occurs inside your house, this equipment must be installed properly to ensure that  toxic combustion gasses are safely exhausted.