What is a water heating system?

A hot water heating system is a system that heats water and distributes it round the house using pipes. It can be a closed system, which works under pressure in a boiler (and is considered more modern), or an open system.

Open systems are less pressured and have a separate tank, which is often found above the highest radiator within the house (usually in the closet on the top floor).




Choosing between a water heater or a boiler can be difficult, especially if you’ve no idea which is better. But don’t worry. We are here to help explain the differences between both of them to help you decide.



You guessed it! They heat water. A water heater is a large holding tank that heats water. The heat is produced using gas or electricity. A typical water heater, after heating the water, maintains the temperature of the water until it is used.

Water in the heater can be used for warm showers or any other hot water need. The water heater works in such a way that when hot water leaves the tank, cold water is collected under the tank and warmed again, making sure that hot water is readily available for the house.



Unlike water heaters, boilers are versatile. They can heat water and at the same time warm the house with the heat from hot water if they are integrated to a heating system.

Some boilers can heat water until it turns to steam. The steam is used both to heat the water for the home, and keep the home warm through radiators or other heating systems such as forced air heating systems or in-floor radiant heating systems.

Boilers can be integrated with forced air heating systems to warm the air in homes or merged with in-floor heating systems to warm the floor.
Boilers have evolved over time and today’s models are very energy efficient.



There are a number of home heating systems. And If you haven’t already got one or are planning to but need help choosing the right one for your home, we have provided a list of heating systems (including their pros and cons) you can choose from.




This is the most common heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system in modern North American homes. Forced air systems use a furnace with a blower fan that distributes warmed air through a chain of ducts to the various rooms in the house. Because forced systems adjust the temperature of a room quickly, they’re more appealing to many homeowners, who can connect their air-conditioning systems to the blower, creating an efficient HVAC system.

How air is distributed in a forced air system?

The furnace’s burner or heating elements warms the air, which is distributed through a grid of ducts to various rooms in the house. At the same time, another grid of ducts collects cold air and returns it to the furnace and the whole process is repeated.

Pros of forced air systems

  • You can merge a humidifier with a forced air system.
  • Forced air systems are quite cheap. You can get one for around 500 dollars.
  • They are energy-efficient and can be combined with cooling systems.

Cons of forced air systems

  • They take up plenty of wallspace and need a lot of ductwork.
  • They can be noisy sometimes
  • Though forced air systems may be energy efficient, they warm the air and not the objects in the room—this form of heating is considered uncomfortable.



Like the forced air systems, the gravity air furnaces distributes air through a network of ducts. However, unlike the forced air systems, the gravity air furnace doesn’t force the air via a blower. Rather it operates using a simple technique of warm air rising and cool air sinking.

How does the gravity air furnace works
Air is warmed in a basement by the furnace. Because warm air is light, it rises into the various rooms through the air ducts. At the same time, another network of duct collects cold air which sinks down to the basement.

Gravity air furnace systems are less popular these days and are no longer installed.

Pros of a gravity air furnace

  • Unlike forced air systems, the gravity air furnace doesn’t have any moving parts, making them long lasting.
  • Gravity air systems are reliable, require little maintenance and saves cost.
    Cons of a gravity air furnace
  • Unlike forced air systems, gravity air furnaces can’t filter air effectively
  • They’re not as energy-efficient as newer heating systems.
  • Compared to forced air systems, the gravity air furnace adjusts air temperature slowly because it uses the principle of conventional heat.



These systems are a modern type of heating system, and unlike the forced air systems, they don’t heat the air around the home but objects and materials, such as your furniture and floor.

Although in-floor radiant systems heat air more slowly and take longer to adjust the surrounding air than forced air systems, still they deliver heat consistently. Most in-floor use a hot water heater to distribute air.
But there are some that use electrical wiring installed under the floor. This kind is less energy efficient than hot water systems and are often used in small rooms like bathrooms.

In-floor radiant systems can run on natural gas, liquid propane, and even electricity.

Pros of in-floor radiant heating system

  • In-floor systems provide and consistent heat.
  • When integrated with boilers, in-floor radiant systems can be very energy-efficient

Cons of in-floor radiant heating system

  • Despite delivering steady heat to homes, radiant systems heat up slowly and take time to adjust the temperature of the room.
  • Radiant systems can be very expensive install
  • Since they’re often buried under the floor, it’s hard to access them, which makes maintaining or repairing them quite difficult.
  • Radiant systems use boilers to heat air. As a result, you can’t integrate them with air conditioners.



If you’re looking for latest home heating systems, the heat pump is the best choice out there. Similar to how air conditioning systems work, heating systems via heat pumps collect heat from the air and distribute to the home using an indoor air handler.

Most heat pump systems extract heat from the surrounding air. But there are some that are ground sourced and pull heat from deep in the ground. Others like water-source heat pumps rely on a pond or lake for heat.

One of the amazing features of heat pump systems is that they’re reversible—you can use them as air conditioners, especially during summer.
Heat pumps are usually powered by electricity, but some models use natural gas.

Pros of heat pump and heating systems

  • Heat pump and heating systems can be used to cool or warm the home
  • They are energy efficient
  • They’re quieter
  • They require no ductwork
  • Because each room have a wall unit, homeowners can control the hotness or coldness of a room without affecting other rooms.

Cons of heat pump and heating systems

  • Heat pumps are best suited for mild climates
  • The degree of coldness or hotness of a room can be limited because distribution comes from a single unit.



As much as these heating systems exist, they are less common in residential homes because they consume huge amounts of energy. Yes, that means owners spend a lot on light bills.

However, they’re still a popular pick for people who want to supplement the heat in home offices, seasonal rooms and basements.

Conventional electrical heating systems are very easy to install. Plus, they don’t need a ductwork, pump or air handler. Another benefit—if you ever consider having one installed in your home—is that they’re cheap, have no moving parts (so they make less noise), and require almost zero maintenance.

Another electrical heating system is the electric radiant heater. This heating system warms the home by radiation. Usually, they’re installed near the ceiling and are directed towards the room. This ensures heat from the system is directed at occupants — it’s more than you get with baseboard units.

Pros of electrical resistance heating systems

  •  Electrical heaters can be installed anywhere in the home
  • They need only a electrical circuit to work
  • Systems that lack fan are quiet.
  • Like in-floor heating systems, radiant systems heat objects.
  • They don’t require any ductwork or expensive installation.

Cons of electrical resistance heating systems

  • Because they consume plenty of power, electric heaters are expensive to operate.
  • Since most electricity are generated by coal-fired power plants, using an electrical heating system can only mean one thing—air pollution will increase significantly from coal burning.

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