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FORCED AIR VS. RADIANT HEAT – What’s Your Preference – HomeWorX with Mark Wexler

Forced air or radiant heat; is one system best? It depends on multiple factors. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and with winter here, what better time to go over them?

If you’re moving into an older home with a radiant heating system (which uses heated water to warm rooms), or your current home uses one, you may not want to switch over to a forced air system. You’ll lose ceiling space due to the necessary bulkheads. Upgrade the aging boiler instead to increase efficiency if needed.

Radiators don’t have to be the bulky, cast-iron relics you maybe grew up with. Today, there are sleek, streamlined options. Some could even be mistaken for contemporary wall features.

If you’ve got allergy issues or are sensitive to dryness, consider radiant heat. Forced air is very dry, so you’ll need to crank up your humidifier to compensate. And because the system is forcing air throughout the house, contaminants in the heating ducts such as animal dander, mould, and mildew can get circulated with heated air.

Further, radiant heating setups generally work more consistently and quickly than forced-air systems. With the latter, a fan runs until the room temperature in every room gets to the level set on the thermostat. Rooms closest to the furnace will hit the target temperature first, while a master bedroom tucked upstairs away from the furnace will take longer to heat. Water, on the other hand, is an excellent heat conductor, so radiant systems make it easier to accurately control the temperature of your house throughout.

If you’re having a home built, forced air could be preferable. That’s what about 80 per cent of my new-construction clients choose. Installation is more affordable. As a bonus, it makes adding central air conditioning easier because both systems share vents and ducts. For this reason, if you’re going to install AC in an older home, you may decide to switch over to forced air at the same time.

Ultimately, it comes down to preference. But remember: just because one heating system’s older, doesn’t mean it can’t do just as good a job.

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