A wood fire stove representing alternative heating options for the winter season.

Heating Options for the Winter Season

In many areas of the country, hearing a furnace kicking on in their homes is just as much a part of the winter acoustics as the sound of a snow plow clearing the roads, or a shovel hitting a sidewalk. It’s true that a reliable furnace is very much an integral part of surviving the bitter cold months but it’s not the only way to heat a house. Many homeowners have integrated alternate or secondary heating options in the case that their furnace goes out or just as a way to ease some of the pressure from the HVAC system and lower the utility bills.

Some of the more popular heating options include:

Forced Air Furnaces

The most common type of HVAC system is a forced-air unit that can either warm or cool air and deliver it throughout the house.
The furnace is run by gas, oil, or electricity but has the same basic principle. In the case of a furnace, a flame will warm the air and send it through the house and delivering it to each room via duct work.

wood fire stove

Wood / Pellet Stove

Wood stoves are an increasingly popular heating option especially as fuel prices continue to rise. After the initial purchase, the cost of running the wood stove involves mostly just finding fuel; perfect if a home is situated in the country around a sprawling forest. Plus, the wood stove can be run even when the power is out to make for a very safe back up plan.


Boilers heat the water with a standard fuel source, such as natural gas or wood, but the heat delivery system is very different. Whereas a furnace heats air to push it through the home, a boiler is a hydroponic system that instead heats water to 180°F and cycles it to through pipes to run radiators, baseboards, tubing, etc.

floor heating vent

Radiant Floor Heating

In-floor heating is a very comfortable addition to the home, and while it usually isn’t used to heat the whole house, it does allow the furnace to be turned down to minimal temperatures to hopefully save electricity. Tubes under the floor are fueled by water or electricity and create an efficient heat source that rises through the whole room instead of from a central vent.

Geothermal Heat

geothermal heating system

The great thing about the Earth is that just below the surface it keeps a consistent temperature whether in cold or warm months. This natural resource can be tapped into and pumped through the home in a looped system. A geothermal heat pump can pull the natural heat out of the Earth, as just a few feet below the surface the temperature remains a constant 55°F. In the summer, the same system can be used to cool your home. For more information on Geothermal systems, click here.

Home Size Matters

Besides climate, the biggest factor in determining what heating options are viable for homes is the size of the house. For example, a wood stove is a perfect inexpensive route to heat a home but only if the square footage is minimal and the floor plan is more open. Large homes have no choice but to go with a forced air system or boiler because of the amount of ground the heat has to travel. Larger homes need to focus on energy efficiency; otherwise, their utility bills will be through the roof. Smaller houses need to be careful not to go too big or small with a furnace. The space could become too hot or too cool right when you need it most. An HVAC professional can tell you what the perfect size system is for your home.

Energy Efficient Options

It’s every homeowner’s responsibility to strive for the most energy efficient heating option possible, and therein lays the slippery slope. Energy efficiency was of little concern to builders back in the 70’s, and thus retrofitting old homes can be quite an undertaking. Backup options like wood stoves and kerosene heaters help take the load off an HVAC system but those building new have the best options to incorporate geothermal or sub-floor radiant heating.

It’s important for today’s homeowner to understand that they do have plenty of options at their disposal when it comes to heating their house. Contact Comfort Pro today online or by phone to help explore your options as sometimes investing a little money could save it tenfold in the long run.

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