How to Choose the Heating System that Will Work Best for Your Home

You rely on your heating system to get you through the tough cold spells of winter. But how well do you understand the type of heating system you have? Are you aware that there’s a wide variety of options when it comes to heating systems?

Here’s a brief breakdown of the many different types of heating systems available to homeowners and how they work.


Furnaces are by far the most popular type of heating system in most American homes. The furnace itself mixes either gas or oil with air and then burns it. That burning of the fuel creates heat, which raises the temperature of the air with the help of a heat exchanger. The furnace fan then pushes that hot air through the ductwork of your home, while venting the unwanted combustion products out through a flue.

One of the disadvantages of a furnace system is that an inefficient furnace can waste a tremendous amount of energy. If you’re in Pennsylvania, a new furnace install in Lancaster County and elsewhere around the state will almost certainly leave you with a much more efficient furnace than the one you currently use.


While a furnace uses hot air to heat your home, a boiler uses hot water. The principle is similar. The boiler uses a fuel, like oil or gas, to heat water. A water pump then circulates the water through pipes to radiators, which radiate heat that warms the house. The water then circulates back to the boiler to be reheated.

In some cases, known as radiant floor heating, the water circulates through plastic tubing in the floor rather than through radiators.

Heat Pumps

A heat pump is essentially a reversed air-conditioner. While an air conditioner moves heat indoors to the outside to make your home cooler, a heat pump moves heat from outdoors into the house, using a forced warm-air delivery system to circulate that air throughout the entire home. There are two main types of heat pumps.

An air-source heat pump works by pumping heat from the outside air into the home, while a ground-source or geothermal heat pump pulls the heat from underground.

If you’re looking for a heat pump install in Chester County or elsewhere in PA, you’ll find that air-source heat pumps are cheaper and easier to install, but ground-source heat pumps are much more efficient because the ground maintains a more constant temperature.

They all do that….the ductless part just means that air blows from the unit straight into the room instead of through duct work

Space Heaters

Gas-fired space heaters can be an effective heating solution if you only have one or a few rooms to heat and don’t want to invest in an entire heating system installation. Lancaster County and Chester County residents with full homes to heat are more likely to choose a central heating option, but for those who use space heaters, which are effectively portable furnaces, it’s very important for safety to use a vented space heater.

Electric space heaters use electricity directly as a heat source, which is effective but expensive.

Wood Burning Stoves and Fireplaces

As long as you’re willing to collect, chop and deliver the wood, a wood burning stove or fireplace can be a very economical way to heat a home. However, as a direct heating source, its range is limited.

Installing Your Heating System

If you’re looking for a furnace, heat pump or boiler install in Chester County, Lancaster County and surrounding areas in PA, contact Summers & Zim’s — the trusted source for plumbing, heating and HVAC installation and repair for over 85 years.

The good-natured guys at Summers & Zim’s are all highly trained at heating system install in Chester County and beyond, and are hired both for their HVAC skills and for their commitment to customer service. All work is covered by our 5-Point Guarantee, and you’ll get a free, fair and accurate estimate before work begins so you know exactly what to expect.

Your heating system is a very important element of your home for you and your family, and you want to make sure it’s installed correctly. Summers & Zim’s takes on every job with an eye on making a lifelong customer — one who will call any time they have a plumbing or HVAC issue, so you know when you hire us to install your system, you’re going to get reliable, quality workmanship.

Contact Summers & Zim’s today to learn more or to schedule service.