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With all of the heating systems available, it can be hard to know which one is right for your home. Below, we have broken down four common heating systems, along with their pros and cons, to help keep you informed about what is available and most common. Forced Air Systems This is the most common heating system in residential homes. Most often, these systems create heat by using fuel sources such as electricity, oil, natural gas or propane. Once heated, the air is distributed throughout the home through ductwork installed with your furnace. Pros

  • Inexpensive initial cost (Especially if there is already ductwork in place)

  • Custom air treatment tools are available

  • More uniform heating throughout large homes


  • Ductwork can be an added expense during installation

  • Less control over specific zones in your home

  • Requires above average maintenance and filtration

Air to Air Heat Pumps Air to air heat pumps, also known as “air source heat pumps”, are used to extract heat from the air and then push it either into or outside your home, depending on the season. They most commonly come in three different styles: add-on, electric and bivalent. Add-on systems are somewhat self-explanatory; they are designed to be used in conjunction with another heating system for when the heat from the heat pump isn’t sufficient. Electric systems include their own supplemental heating system that can contribute when need be. Bivalent systems are designed for climates that can reach extreme colds, because they burn gas or propane to increase the temperature of the incoming air. Pros

  • Can be used in homes with or without ductwork

  • Low initial cost (especially if there is already a framework for it to work within)

  • Can provide cooling as well


  • Performance levels are much lower in extreme temperatures

  • System can be expensive when additional systems are needed to contribute

  • Requires regular maintenance

Ductless Heat Pump A ductless heat pump is also known as a mini-split system. They are called split systems because of the combination of indoor and outdoor units that operate your heating. The outdoor unit is the same one used for ductless air conditioning but just reverses the flow of refrigerant. Instead of using the evaporator coil to subtract heat from the air, the system uses the condenser to add heat. This is an efficient model that allows for multi-season flexibility and no ductwork. Pros

  • Multi-season use

  • Above average efficiency

  • More control over independent heating zones throughout your home

  • No ductwork


  • Can be expensive if your home already has ducts

  • Multiple units mounted on walls throughout your home

  • Can be less desirable for larger homes

Boilers Boilers are often used in conjunction with radiant heating systems. They use hot water to generate heat and pass them through in-floor or baseboard hydronic heating. Some older systems use steam radiators as well, but if you’re upgrading your system to a boiler, the other options are much better. Boilers can also be used to provide hot water, but that will require additional installations and can be an added cost. Also, they don’t have ductwork which means you may need to purchase a separate cooling system for the summer. Pros

  • Small size

  • Cleaner air and more consistent comfort

  • Ability to be used as a water heater


  • No ability to be used as a cooling system

  • Slow initial heating process

  • Expensive in combination with other systems

This is a very brief description of each style of heating system, but it’s good to know what’s available. Now that you are familiar with each style, it’s best to find out what will best fit your home and your comfort needs. Special Gas Services can provide a free quote on any of these systems while answering any questions that you may have. Click here to schedule a free quote with Special Gas Services.


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