All of Your Home Heating Options, Explained

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Your Kansas City Home Heating Options Explained

From November to March, the temps in Kansas City hover around freezing. There are so many different types of home heating and cooling systems that it can feel overwhelming when researching your next home upgrade. Heating your home is the costliest utility expense for homes in North America making up about 30 percent of all utilities paid annually.

Luckily, maintaining and replacing old equipment with newer energy-efficient models can help decrease these costs significantly.

Shopping for a new heating system is also an opportunity to reduce your home’s carbon footprint for the next 15 or 20 years by switching from fossil fuel to electricity-powered HVAC solutions like electric furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps. Currently, BPU provides Kansas City area residents with electricity that is 48% carbon-free and growing, thanks to investments in wind power.

Different Types of Home Heating Systems

In general, there are three common types of heating systems: boilers & radiant heating, furnaces, and heat pumps.

Boilers and Radiant Heating Systems

Boilers heat water and provide either heated water or steam for heating. Steam is distributed through the house via pipes to steam radiators. Hot water is usually distributed through baseboard radiators. Steam boilers will run at a higher temperature than hot water boilers, and as a result, tend to be less efficient.

Benefits of boilers:

  • More efficient than furnaces.
  • Boiler heat works well for zone heating. If you’re looking to warm one or two rooms specifically, boiler systems can be used to heat separate parts of the house, instead of the whole house.
  • Quieter option. Although the steam in the pipes can make the occasional noise, they’re quieter than furnaces.
  • Electric boilers are not a carbon monoxide hazard and give your home a low carbon footprint.

Negatives of boilers:

  • Higher upfront cost. Boilers can be relatively expensive. However, much of that upfront cost can be recouped via savings in monthly costs later.
  • Combustion boilers (that use natural gas, heating oil, or propane) pose a carbon monoxide risk and release a lot of carbon into the atmosphere.
  • Natural gas and propane prices are on the rise (propane rose 30% in 2021-2022).

Related Content: Knowing When You Need Emergency Heating Repairs

Furnace Heating Systems

Furnaces are currently the most common central heating source in America. Furnaces operate by using gas, heating oil, propane, or electricity to heat air, which is then circulated through a duct system that distributes it throughout the house.

Benefits of a furnace:

  • They’re generally the least expensive system to purchase.
  • Electric-powered furnaces are not a carbon monoxide hazard

Negatives of a furnace:

  • Controlled by one central thermostat and cannot be used for zone heating.
  • The blower or fan can be loud and cause disruptions while running.
  • In cold climates, furnaces can cause the air in the house to become very dry and a humidifier may be required to keep comfortable.
  • Furnaces powered by fossil fuels pose a carbon monoxide risk and have a heavy carbon footprint compared to electric furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps.
  • Natural gas and propane prices are on the rise (propane rose 30% in 2021-2022).

Heat Pump Heating Systems 

Electric-powered air-source heat pumps are three times more efficient than gas furnaces and double as your air conditioner. They extract heat from the ambient air, even cold winter air, to heat your home through your ductwork.

A second type of heat pump is the geothermal heat pump, which harnesses warmth from underground and conveys it into your home.

Benefits of a heat pump:

  • The most efficient and least expensive heating system to operate month to month.
  • Also serves as your air conditioner.
  • Not a carbon monoxide hazard
  • New federal tax incentives and rebates available for homeowners

Negatives of a heat pump:

  • More expensive upfront (though new federal incentives help with this).
  • The outdoor unit can be a bit noisy (but quiet models are available for a little extra money).
  • Air-source heat pumps become less efficient as the temperatures dip below freezing.
  • Some homeowners prefer to have a backup heating source (like a furnace or backup electric heater) in case temps dip into the single digits, though homeowners in Maine, who experience much harsher winters than we have in Kansas City, report not needing backup heat for their heat pumps.

Replacing and Repairing Heating Systems in Kansas City, Missouri

If you’re in the Kansas City area and looking to repair or replace your home’s heating system, the C.M. Mose & Son team is here for you. We’ll answer any questions you may have about the best way to heat your home. Contact us at (816) 339-5190 or online.

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