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Factors to Consider When Choosing a Home Heating System

Date: March 18, 2024

At Cubby, we know furnaces, boilers and ductless systems.

home heating Boston, MA Did you know that spring is one of the best times to update your home heating equipment?

Firstly, with days getting milder, you won’t be relying on your heating system for around-the-clock home comfort. Additionally, the Cubby Oil & Energy team has more availability since our technicians won’t be on the road all day responding to no-heat emergencies in greater Boston. You can get the most convenient appointment.
We can also help you find the most efficient and effective product so your home will be toasty warm next winter — and your energy bills might be considerably lower, too.

Here are three factors to consider when choosing a new home heating system.

Existing Heating Equipment

What kind of heating equipment do you currently have? There are three main possibilities:

  1. Boilers (Hydronic System) — These systems don’t use ductwork. Instead, a boiler heats water, and either steam or hot water travels through pipes to radiators and baseboards.
  2. Furnaces (Forced Air) — These systems require ducts. Your furnace heats air in a combustion chamber, and a blower fan circulates the warm air through your ductwork.
  3. Heat Pump (Ductless/Split System) — This all-electric heating and cooling system can work with or without ducts. These systems don’t generate heat but rather transfer heat from outside your home into your living spaces in cold months. (Please note that you may still have a furnace or boiler even if you have a heat pump system.)

We have found that, in most cases, it’s better to upgrade to a newer, more efficient version of your current system than to convert to a totally new system. Conversions can be pricy and disruptive, and it will take longer to recoup that expense.

Most Affordable — and Reliable — Energy Source

Most heating equipment in our part of the country runs on either heating oil, gas or electricity. It can be challenging to compare these three energy sources. One effective way to do so in this context is to compare heat generation (in British thermal units or Btu’s). One gallon of home heating oil, for example, generates roughly the same amount of heat as:

  • 1.5 gallons of propane
  • 133.7 cubic feet of natural gas
  • 40.5 kilowatt hours of electricity

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Looking up rates for these energy sources and multiplying them to match the per-gallon price of heating oil will give you some idea of the comparable cost.
It’s worth noting, however, that not all these energy sources are as reliable when it comes to heating. Electric heat pump systems are great for air conditioning and heat during milder parts of winter, but they often struggle during sustained freezing periods. For this reason, many of our customers choose to use a furnace or boiler in the most frigid part of winter, even after installing a heat pump.

Energy Efficiency

Efficiency goes hand in hand with affordability and reliability. The best way to determine the energy efficiency of a heating system is by looking at its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. This rating tells you the percentage of energy that goes to heating your home versus how much is wasted.
If you have a heating system that’s over 10 years old, its AFUE might have slipped to 60% or lower. Upgrading to a new system could bump your AFUE to the 90% range or higher!

At Cubby Oil & Energy, we sell, install and service boilers, furnaces and ductless systems. We can help you find the best heating option for your home. Contact us today for a free estimate.

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