Home Energy Library


 Heating systems basically replace heat that is lost through your home's shell. How much energy your heating system requires to replace that heat depends on four factors: the climate where the house is located, the home's size, how energy efficient the house is, and how energy efficient the heating system is. You can't do much about the first two factors. Climate and size are not easily changed. But, you can do something about the last two, improving the energy efficiency of the home itself and specifically its heating system. By clicking on the links below, you can learn about the various types of heating and distribution systems, look at ways you can make your home's heating system more efficient, and get pointers on how to select a new heating system.

But first, let’s get familiar with some heating system terminology. There are a variety of heating systems and combinations of systems used in homes. They can be classified either by the type of energy used to produce the heat, like electricity, oil, gas, wood, coal or solar, or by the mechanism used to distribute the heat throughout the home, including hot air, hot water, and steam. In general terms, heating systems convert a fuel (oil, gas, coal, wood) or an energy form (electrical, solar, wind) into heat. The conversion takes place in one or more locations within the house, and the heat produced is then distributed throughout the living space.

The most common type of heating system in this country is a central system. Central heating systems have three basic parts: the heating plant where fuel is converted into heat, a distribution system for delivering heat to where it is needed, and controls to regulate when it operates. For more detail on the heating system topic of interest to you, click on the links below.