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Comparing Radiant and Forced-Air Heating

When you look at how to keep your home warm and comfortable through the winter months, you may be aware that you have a lot of options. But deciding which of those options best satisfies your needs is another issue. Here’s a look at the difference between radiant heat and forced-air heating, and how each one fits into a heating strategy for a Fairfax-area home.

What Is a Forced-Air Furnace?

Forced air refers to the way heat is distributed through your home, and it requires a quick physics lesson. Heat can travel in three ways: conduction (when heat moves through a hot object to another one, such as a hot stove element to a cast-iron pan), convection (where heat is carried from one place to another by air, water or other liquids or gases) or radiation (where heat radiates from a hot object through the intervening space to another object, like the sun’s rays falling on the Earth). A forced-air furnace distributes heat through convection, circulating warm air through your house. The air travels through your home’s ductwork to be delivered to every room.

What is Radiant Heating?

Radiant, or floorboard, heating delivers radiant heat: A boiler circulates hot water through coils beneath the floors in your home, and the heat passes through the floor and into your living areas. Because this system uses a boiler, comparing baseboard heating with   forced air-heating is actually a matter of looking at the efficiency of a boiler vs. a furnace.

How is Efficiency Measured?

Forced-air and radiant systems are rated according to the annual fuel utilization efficiency system. AFUE is a measurement of how your HVAC system performs when an entire year is taken into account and is reported in percentages: the percent of the energy input that is actually used to heat your home.

Have questions about radiant and forced-air heat? Would you like to know more about the cost of each system or which one is better for your Virginia home? Visit us at HVAC Unlimited Heating & Air Conditioning.

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