Wood heating, underfloor heating, heat pump systems, cast iron radiators...there are many options for heating your home in cold weather, but forced air heating stands out as a popular solution for homeowners looking to install a new heating system. In this article, find out how this type of heater works, its pros and cons, and why more and more households are making this technology part of their HVAC system.
How does forced air heating work?
Forced air heating is a form of central heating that works by circulating hot air (not water) through the rooms where it’s installed to warm them up. Its heat source is a furnace fuelled by natural gas, propane, oil, or electricity to heat the air. A fan then blows this hot air through ducts into the rooms to be heated, distributing the heat evenly throughout the house.
A furnace can burn various fuels such as fuel oil and propane to heat up the air circulating in the system. Propane is often used in areas where access to natural gas is limited, as it can be stored in external tanks.
This type of heating can be:
- Centralised: with a network of ducts / ventilation pipes that work with a boiler or stove and distribute warm air to the various rooms in the home.
- Decentralised: an independent auxiliary heating system used in a single room.
This has the advantage of heating a space quickly and maintaining a constant level of heat throughout the home.
What are the pros of forced air heaters?
This type of heater heats the air rapidly, warming up a space in a relatively short time.
Even heat distribution
Warm air is distributed evenly throughout the house by a ventilation system, helping to maintain an even level of warmth.
Precise temperature control
Forced air heaters are generally equipped with thermostats to regulate the desired temperature precisely, providing good control over thermal comfort.
They can be used for a variety of purposes, and for different types of buildings and homes.
Some forced air heating systems are designed to be reversible, which means they can also be used to cool the air in summer, offering an all-in-one heating and cooling solution.
Some models are designed to be energy-efficient, so installing a new furnace can help lower your heating bill.
Easy to install
They are generally easier to install than some other forms of central heating, which reduces the initial cost.
Less risk of gas leaks
Unlike some gas heating systems, forced air heaters don’t involve potentially dangerous gas pipes, which reduces the risk of gas leaks and therefore accidents in the home.
Adaptability to filtration systems
Forced air heating systems can be fitted with filters to improve air quality by removing particles and allergens, contributing to a healthier indoor environment. It should be noted that the efficiency and specific benefits can vary according to the quality of the system, its maintenance and its use.
The Netatmo Smart Thermostat is an exceptionally precise home heating control solution that lets you go further in managing and optimising your heating system. With this thermostat, you can programme, adjust and control your home’s temperature simply by using your smartphone.
What are the cons?
Forced air heaters also have a number of disadvantages, such as:
This type of heater can dry out ambient air by removing moisture from the air. This can cause problems such as dry skin, sore throats and respiratory discomfort, especially during the winter months when air humidity is already relatively low. Care must therefore be taken to maintain an optimum level of humidity in the home.
Forced air heating systems use fans to distribute warm air from the furnace, which can be noisy. This can be particularly annoying in noise-sensitive areas such as bedrooms.
A forced air heater can cause dust and allergens to circulate in the air, aggravating allergies and breathing problems for some people.
Forced air heating systems require regular servicing, including replacing the air filters and cleaning the ductwork, to keep them working efficiently and prevent dust from circulating.
Loss of efficiency due to leaky ductwork
Leaks in the air ducts can make the heating system less efficient, as they allow the hot air to escape before reaching the areas you want to heat.
The initial installation of a forced air heating system can be costly, especially in the case of large homes or commercial buildings, as ductwork and air distribution systems have to be put in place.
It’s important to take all the pros and cons into account when deciding if a new forced air heating system is the best option for you. The design, maintenance and proper use of the system can help to offset some of these drawbacks.
How much does forced air heating cost?
The price will vary depending on whether you go for a centralised forced air heating system or a decentralised one. For example, the price of a centralised system generally starts from £1,700 and can rise according to the surface area to be heated. A decentralised system will cost around £170 per room, depending on the size of each room and how efficient its insulation is.
The price of a forced air heating system depends on a number of factors, including the size of the system, the type of fuel or energy used, the complexity of the installation... Here are a few things that will affect the price:
- Type of fuel or energy: The choice of fuel or energy used can have a significant impact on the total cost. Opting for natural gas or propane heating can be less expensive than an electric furnace.
- Surface area to be heated: The larger the area you need to heat, or the more rooms you have to heat, the more complex and expensive the forced air heating system will be. Heating systems for larger homes or commercial buildings often require a bigger investment.
- Energy efficiency: More energy-efficient forced air heating systems may cost more up front, but they can save you money on operating costs over the long term by reducing energy consumption. So they may be the best option if you can afford them.
- Installation costs: Installing a forced air heating system may entail additional costs, such as installing ductwork and ventilation systems.
- Servicing and repairs: Don't overlook the potential costs of servicing and repairing the system over time. Regular servicing is essential to keep things running smoothly.
It’s a good idea to request quotes from several local heating installers to get an accurate estimate of the cost of purchasing, installing and operating a forced air heating system tailored to your specific needs. In addition, it’s a good idea to consider long-term costs, including potential savings on energy bills, when assessing the overall cost of owning this kind of system.