Mac Heating FAQ

Heating and cooling systems are some of the most important investments you'll ever make in your home. Whether you're buying a new house, renovating an old one or making an emergency purchase because "old faithful" finally conked out, there's a lot riding on the choices you make: Your comfort and safety are at stake, but so is your wallet. Americans typically spend about 46 cents of every dollar they pay in utility bills for "space conditioning." You can lower those costs by selecting the most energy-efficient equipment that meets your needs and fits your budget.

Why should I choose a hot water baseboard heating system instead of accepting the more common hot air ducted system?

Most heating experts agree that a hot water baseboard system will provide your home with significant advantages in comfort, cleanliness, quietness, ease of control, health and safety. Baseboard hot water heating systems work on the principle that heat rises. The "radiators" that bring warmth into the room are therefore installed low to the floor, typically along the baseboard. Water is heated in a boiler tank in the utility room just as water is heated for your hot water, either by gas, oil or electricity in a system separate from the water heater that supplies your plumbing system.

hot waterThe hot water is then pumped by an electric motor driven pump through the house normally in a series system, that is hot water enters the first radiator in the house so that radiator is normally the hottest of any. Heat flows from the surface of that radiator so that the water that comes out of the exit end of that radiator is cooled somewhat. The water then flows to the next radiator in the system and more heat is extracted from the water an released into the room. As a result, air ductedthe last room in the system receives cooler water than the first one. The water then goes back to the boiler where it is heated and re-circulated again. This is a closed system. All the water in the system remains in the system. If there is a small leak somewhere in the system, there is a compensation mechanism built in. The main water supply from the house is fed into the circulation system through a pressure regulator so that any lost water is replaced instantly.

If there is a significant leak in the system then you will hear water being replaced - it will sound like someone has a faucet open somewhere in the house.

Why do so many homeowners have hot air ducted heating systems if hot water baseboard heating is judged to be more efficient and comfortable?

Hot water baseboard heating systems, despite their clearly preferred rating over hot air systems, are not installed in the majority of new American homes. Homebuyers are not usually offered a choice by the builder as to which heating system they would like installed. Typically, builders combine hot air heating and air conditioning in the same ducted system to save in their cost of home construction. The ideal, efficient comfort system, however, would have a separate hot water baseboard heating system and a separate cooling system. In Europe, hot water heating is installed in over 95% of homes.
During normal operation, the burner on the furnace starts up, warming the heat exchanger and the air in and around the heat exchanger. When the air is warm, a fan control starts the fan to distribute the warm air into your home. This delay is built in so the fan does not start immediately and blow cold air on your feet. When the room air near the thermostat is warmed to the set point, the thermostat turns the burner off. The fan continues to run until it has removed the heat from the heat exchanger. When the heat exchanger is cool, the fan limit control turns the fan off.

Which heating system will be more cost effective for my home?

The separate hot water baseboard heating system adds less than 1% to the cost of a typical house and proportionately less for higher priced houses. But hot water baseboard can actually save 30% off 
home heating costs every year for a quick payback. First, hot water baseboard distributes heat more efficiently. Second, you can set your thermostat 2° or 3° lower than with a hot air ducted system and still be comfortable. Baseboard introduces radiant heat at floor level, does not create drafts that cool your skin and avoids excessive, wasteful stratification of air (hot near the ceiling, cold at your feet). Baseboard is also easy to zone so you can vary the heat level from one space to another and choose not to heat unused rooms.

What are the government guidelines on heating efficiency?

Boilers and furnaces have ratings called A.F.U.E. (Annual Fuel Usage Efficiency). Compare for yourself. There are high efficiency boilers and high efficiency furnaces. But remember that A.F.U.E. only measures how well the boiler or furnace converts fuel into energy to heat the home. The way the heat is distributed throughout your home affects your comfort level and the system efficiency and the operating cost. The true efficiency of a heating system is a combination of the A.F.U.E. of the appliance and the efficiency of the distribution system. Baseboard distributes heat far more efficiently that a ducted system. According to the U.S. Government, hot air ducted heating is wasteful and less efficient.
Forced-air furnaces, the most common heating system, waste energy, through duct leakage, the system's effects on a building's filtration rate, and thermal conduction. For example, duct leakage accounts for 10% to 20% of the total air infiltration rate when the furnace blower is off. Total infiltration rates typically increase by 200% when the blower fan is turned on. The total infiltration rate can increase by as much as 500% when the return air paths are impeded, such as when interior doors are closed.

Isn't all heat the same, regardless of it's source?

No, there are big differences in heat comfort. Do you ever feel chilly near a cold window even though very hot air is surging out of a wall register? Ever feel alternately hot and then cold when the furnace cycles on and off? The average temperature of the air in the room is one thing. How comfortable your body continuously feels is something else. Hot water baseboard provides heat through gentle radiation and natural convection starting at the perimeter of the house. This blankets cold walls and windows with warmth, preventing drafts and providing uniform heat from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. You feel comfortable all over and all the time without ever being conscious of the heating system operating.

What's the difference between a boiler and furnace?

A boiler uses oil, gas or electricity to generate hot water and in some cases steam, which is piped to baseboard radiation systems on the perimeter of the house. A furnace burns oil or gas to heat up air which is forced by a fan through a large ducted system and blown through registers in various parts of the house. Generally speaking, a cast iron boiler for a baseboard system has more than twice the life expectancy of a furnace for a hot air system.

Boilers can be oil or gas fired. Cast iron boilers have been sold in the US for over 100 years. Cast iron boilers have a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years or more. Cast iron boilers are very durable and provide comfortable and affordable heating for your family.
Peerless Heater Company has been building cast iron boilers for over eight decades. Peerless employees take great pride in their products.
Buderus boilers are the perfect central heating source for single or multiple family homes and guarantee reliable heating for many years. and Domestic Hot Water tanks are designed to work perfectly with each Buderus boiler.

Furnaces are a type of heating system 
that uses the principle of thermal convection. When air is heated, it rises and as the air cools it settles. Ducts are installed to carry the hot air from the 
top of the furnace to the rooms. Other ducts, called cold air returns, return 
the cooler air back to the furnace.
The Rheem High-Efficiency Oil Furnace combines state-of-the-art technology 
with old-world craftsmanship to deliver 
a furnace that looks good and delivers reliable comfort for years to come.


For more information:

Oil Heat America