For millennia, civilizations around the world depended largely on wood fires for warmth. Even ancient systems for room heating, such as the Roman hypocaust, were reliant on the smoke generated by a vigorously burning fire. Today, we no longer depend primarily on wood for fuel during the wintertime. Instead, other methods have supplanted it, such as electricity, oil, and natural gas heating systems for homes. Of these options, natural gas is perhaps the most common. From northeastern states such as Maine all the way out to California, natural gas is easy to access and is the most typical choice for fueling furnaces.How does it all work, though, and what makes natural gas such a clear choice in so many homes? Whether you’re considering adding one to a new or existing home, or you’d like to explore an upgrade for your current installation, a quick overview can be helpful. After all, not all natural gas heaters are the same; in fact, some can prove to be dramatically different options from each other. Before we consider the specific advantages natural gas brings to the table, let’s first look at how the different types of systems are set apart from one another.
The Most Common Types of Natural Gas Heating Systems for Homes
Central heating. Far and away the most common type, central heating (or “forced air furnaces”) relies on ducts built in to the home, and a central unit that combusts natural gas in a safe, efficient manner. This unit then blows the heated air through the ducts. Keep in mind:
Central units are often able to offer the best fuel efficiency due to their highly developed design.
They are easy to care for when following routine maintenance milestones.
Central heating works best in homes with enough space to comfortably locate the unit out of the way.
Hot water heating. Also known as hydronics, these systems rely on radiators or hot water pipes placed in or near the walls of the home. Using natural gas to fire a boiler installed in the home, hot water or steam is sent from the central unit up into the pipes. The heat from the water then radiates out into the room. Some things to know about hydronics:
Hydronics are not easy to install into an existing home that lacks the infrastructure.
Hydronics can be slower to heat rooms, but the heat may last longer due to the slow exchange of heat from the water to the air.
Hydronics are not a typical system due to the availability of alternatives.
Space heating. Some homes use built-in space heaters for rooms that aren’t often occupied, or for spaces that are not connected to the home’s main central heating. These natural gas heating systems for homes can rapidly heat smaller spaces, providing heat only when necessary. An artificial fireplace is a typical example of a natural gas space heater. Facts to know include:
Space heaters are generally easier to install if a gas line is available.
Space heaters are an excellent choice for smaller homes.
The Advantages of Natural Gas for Home Heat
Now, what about the specific advantages of using natural gas the fuel source for one of the options listed above? A quick look reveals that there are many reasons to make the switch. They include:
Cheaper fuel. Natural gas is plentiful, and securing fuel at a good price is easy to do with the right provider. You can often choose a fixed rate, paying for the gas you need as the season progresses.
More efficient overall. Natural gas furnaces are well-known for their efficiency. The clean-burning gas leaves behind few combustion products, meaning more of its energy converts to heat.
Rapid heating. Thanks again to that efficient burning, natural gas furnaces and space heaters provide maximum heat output right away, allowing for less operational time and a more comfortable living space.
Taking Steps to Use a Gas Furnace on Your Property
What if you do not currently have a natural gas connection available at your home? In many cases, your local gas company will be happy to install a new line and connection in your home, so long as it’s within their service area. Do note that sometimes this service will incur a fee, but your provider may choose to bundle the installation fees in with other setup fees typical for the first month of service. With the connection available, you can begin the process of choosing a unit for installation. You could even consider other uses for your NG connection, such as outdoor grilling or fueling a gas range.When you’re ready to take steps towards purchasing a gas furnace, be sure to select experienced heating installers to help assess your home. Not only can this process help to size your furnace correctly, but it can also identify potential issues with installation before any work commences. With professional advice on your side, tapping into all the benefits offered by natural gas heating systems for homes is easy.