Common Types of Heating Systems Used in Alabama

There are many different types of heating systems used throughout Alabama.

Forced Air System:  One of the most common types of home heating solution is the forced air system. This is a system where an energy source heats a furnace, and air is passed through that furnace and throughout the home using duct-work. The energy sources used are most often natural gas, propane, oil, or electricity. There are many different types of forced air heating solutions in Alabama.

Heat Pumps:  Heat pumps are a type of forced air solution that are often used in HVAC systems. They have the ability to be used for both heating and cooling the air in a home. Generally speaking, most other forced air heaters are only used for heating purposes.  Hybrid Heat or Dual Fuel systems are heat pump and forced air furnace combined.

Radiant Heating System:  Another common heater design in Alabama is the radiant heating system. This type of system does not force heat throughout the home using fans. It instead relies on the process of radiation, or direct relations between hot and cold standing air. Three common forms of this system are pot belly stoves, fireplaces, and in-floor hot water tubing.  Radiant heating can be quite advantageous for those living near natural supplies of readily available fuel in Alabama, such as trees. Of course, without heating ducts and a fan system, this type of heat source can take a while to fully warm up a home.

Water Baseboard System:  Another common heat source used in Alabama is the water baseboard system. This is similar to a radiant heating system. The difference is that the water is pumped through the system, which means that heat is transferred into a room through both radiation and convection. Convection is the transfer of heat through movement of air or fluid.  A water baseboard system pumps heated water from a boiler through a system of wall-mounted “fin-tubes” designed to maximize the heating surface. The boiler can be heated with any type of fuel source. While this is generally a cost effective way to heat a home, it can also make furniture placement difficult due to the necessity for unobstructed, wall-mounted fin-tubes.

Steam radiant heating systems:  Steam radiant heating systems are often found in older buildings. You’ve probably seen these classic metal heating devices that look like pulled open accordions. In these systems, a boiler heats water into steam and pushes it through the system to radiant metal heating elements throughout the home or business. These are pretty common in older Alabama school buildings, too. The boilers used in these systems are often much more complex than in water-based systems, because the steam pressure has to be monitored closely.  These are dangerous to children as the radiators will burn the skin!

Geothermal Heat Pump:  A new and increasingly more common heat source in Alabama is the Geothermal Heat Pump. This system uses the nearly constant temperature around 20 feet beneath a home’s surface in order to make heating and cooling a home more efficient. This temperature is often around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, even in the Summer. This means that cooling and heating will be aided by a constant source of colder or warmer air, depending on the use. Geothermal Heat Pumps often save homeowners between 35 to 80 percent on their energy costs, but they are significantly more expensive to install than other solutions.

Depending on how old the system is, it may be cost effective to upgrade. Newer, more energy efficient designs can often save a homeowner 25 percent or more on their monthly heating bills. So, the cost of upgrading the system pays for itself in many cases.



Don JohnsonDon Johnson is the President of Freedom Heating and Cooling in Birmingham, Alabama which offers home owners tools including:
9 Things to Check Before Calling for Service on Your Air Conditioner or Furnace”,  a resource to help home owners save on HVAC problems
The Home Owner’s Guide to Hiring a Heating and Air Conditioning Company“, a quick read on how to guarantee you never suffer by hiring the wrong contractor.
The Ultimate Home Owner’s Guide to Designing an HVAC System , a 59-page eBook covering the 9 steps to building a Complete Home Comfort System.   Contact him at 205-444-4444 or connect on facebook or Google +