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Different Types of Home Heating Systems

Home heating systems have come a long way since man would throw sticks and animal dung together on the bare floor of his home and set them alight for warmth; a fact for which we are all eternally grateful. Modern heating is the pinnacle of comfort; fast, on-demand and available in a multitude of different forms.

Most homes nowadays are centrally-heated—a boiler system or some other form of heat source provides heat from one central location to the rest of the household. Normally, heat is generated by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil or gas, and using the heat to boil water which is then pumped throughout the house in copper pipes. Other methods include pushing hot air through ducts (as in a hot-air ventilation system) or using steam to heat up thick pipes in the walls and floor. Central heating systems normally dispense heat through radiators or piping, and can be expensive to run for extended periods.

Other options are becoming more and more common. In many parts of the northernmost northern hemisphere, for example, geothermal energy is often used to heat homes directly - if you are lucky enough to live near hot springs or anywhere where the Earth’s crust is sufficiently thin, why not let Gaia do the heating for you? Geothermal heating involves drawing heat from under the soil and distributing it throughout the house by means of a special fluid. The big bonus of a geothermal heating system is that it can be fitted to the existing pipe-work with fairly minimal modification.

Another major technological innovation is the arrival of solar heating on a large scale. Using solar panels mounted on the roof of the house to collect the suns’ rays and convert the energy into heat, solar heating systems can provide up to 70 percent of the water heating provided by a central heating system, making them extremely cost-effective in the long run. Many homes combine solar heating with photovoltaic panels to generate electricity.

The final common option is the everyday stove—a single heating unit that burns wood, corn, biofuel or coal to generate heat, which is then released into the surrounding rooms through air ducts or fan-assisted ventilation systems. These are often the cheapest, most immediately-practical methods of heating the home, and can produce a very pleasing aesthetic, but they are also a lot more dangerous than any of the other systems.

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