Bob's Tip of the Day: Furnaces heat air. If your heating appliance heats water, then it’s a boiler. If your appliance sources heat from the air, the ground, or a water reserve, then it’s one of several types of heat pumps. If there are ducts through which warm air blows, then you have forced-air distribution. If you have baseboard radiators, your distribution system is hydronic (hot water). If the heat comes from your floors (or walls or ceiling), you use radiant heat distribution.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, radiant heat is more efficient than baseboard or forced air systems. Rather than just blowing hot air around the room in bursts, radiant systems slowly and steadily charge the floor with heat, keeping it where you want it, longer. Hydronic, or water-circulating, radiant systems are best for new construction or large additions. Electric radiant is an easy option for a smaller space like a bathroom and uses less than 15 cents of electricity per day!
Forced Air HVAC Systems: Forced-air systems are extremely versatile The network of ducts that distributes air around the house can be used for heating, air conditioning, fresh air distribution, dehumidification, and air filtration. Another plus: forced-air heat is usually cheaper than a hydronic system. Efficient forced-air systems are well designed and carefully installed.