Here at Nelson’s, we know how to break it down. Into the different types of heating, that is! There are a lot of ways to prep for the coming winter (we hear you, Jon Snow), so we’ll give you a look inside the different types of systems that bring more heat than an angry Italian.

Central Heating Furnace: Most American households use a central furnace to heat their homes. Furnaces use a duct system to blow heated air through the home. This is also called a forced warm-air distribution system. Electricity, natural gas, and fuel oil can all be used to power it. The most important part of central A/C? Your thermostat! The central controls turn the entire system on and off to regulate and keep a steady (and hopefully comfortable) temperature.

Boilers: Think of a boiler like a giant tea kettle. This system distributes heat using hot water as it passes through rooms. Once the water cools, it is returned to the boiler to reheat. Unlike other central A/C units, boilers use a pump to circulate water through pipes. These pipes lead to radiators, or sometimes circulate in plastic tubing under floors for “radiant floor heating”, but this is less common than your cold feet would hope.

Heat Pumps: These are essentially 2-way air conditioners. In summer months, these pump heat from inside the home out, but in winter months, they do the opposite. Using an electrical system, the pump finds heat from outdoors and brings it in. These also, like a furnace, use a forced warm-air delivery to disperse the air throughout the home. They also go green! Some heat pumps, called Ground-Source pumps or GX, use heat from underground. They are more efficient but slightly more expensive.

Electric Space Heaters: These are better to use as a portable option. They can become costly for large area use, or multi-room use. The heat is created like a toaster, converting electric current into warmth. Because of the energy needed to create the heat, anything over a 1,500-watt plug may cause the circuit to blow, so keep the heater small and inconsistently used. This is the most expensive heater and seldom recommended beyond personal or single room use.

Fireplaces: Mostly used for room decor and a pleasant glow, these “old-fashioned” heaters are not the most effective source of warmth anymore. They are not consistent in regards to temperature, and actually reverse the flow of heat. Fires draw heat, but this must be replaced by colder outside air to continue stoking the flames. However, if the chimney is dampered properly, and a tightly-sealing glass covers the fireplace, this can be used more successfully. Bundle up!

So many heaters to choose from, but a Snuggie still seems like a good option to some of us…prep for the coming cold, and make sure your system is up-to-date and efficient. In the meantime, enjoy the last few weeks of warmth, and call Nelson’s for your Heating and Cooling needs!