Central heating is simply heating all parts of a building using a central source of heat. It is more efficient than other methods of home heating. The entire home heats up faster since all the rooms are getting heated simultaneously. Also, because the production unit is located in one room, it is easier to troubleshoot and carry out repairs when something goes wrong. That’s why we made this comprehensive guide to central heating solutions for average homeowner.
The following are types of central heating solutions:
Old-school heating relies on radiators, which draw heat from either steam or water and use that heat to warm up surrounding air.
How it works:
Radiators are usually made of cast iron metal (an excellent conductor of heat). Its design includes multiple folds which gives the metal more surface area to come into contact with more air. As the surrounding air warms up, it naturally rises and allows cooler air to take its place. This results in a rotational current of air forming around the radiator until all air in the room heats up.
There are three types of radiators:
- Steam radiators – One of the oldest heating technologies use steam heating because older homes typically use boilers and also the fact that steam naturally moves itself through pipes without the use of a pump. Steam heating process involves boiling and condensing water, which is less efficient compared to modern radiator systems. There are arguably more cons than pros for this type of radiator, including significant lag times and heat loss, high maintenance, lack of control settings, and warping or rusting on the floor they sit on.
- Hot water radiators – More common in newer homes, hot water radiators work similarly with steam radiators but without the pressure created by the steam. So once water is heated to the desired temperature, it’s pumped through all the radiators in the home. The hot water enters each radiator and gives off radiant heat. As the water becomes too cool to heat up a radiator, it goes back to the heater for reheating. This cycle continues until all rooms are warmed up. The heater and pump are connected to a thermostat for better temperature control. Some systems provide zone control that allow you to heat and cool off ‘zones’ in your home, depending on how often you use these areas.
- Electric Radiators – Electric radiators work the same way traditional gas central heating systems. They provide radiated heat that heats the room evenly. Traditionally, electric heating is referred to portable heaters or plug-in appliances that were widely used during the 1970s. Luckily, nowadays the market offers a wide range of electric radiators that are energy-efficient, stylish and with modern-looking designs. One of the advantages of electric radiators is that boiler breakdowns won’t affect your electric heating. This type of radiators are environmentally friendly and cost efficient. If your home does not have a central heating or boiler system you could qualify for a grant to cover the full cost of installation. To find out more on how to qualify read this handy guide on how to qualify for a central heating grant.
Radiator heating systems, unlike other heating systems, require balancing in order to get a good level of heat output from all radiator units. This involves controlling the speed of hot water flowing through each radiator – slower means more heat is given off and faster means less heat is given off. Balancing the systems is crucial in ensuring your comfort. If one radiator gives off too much heat while others aren’t, you’ll have hot and cold spaces in your home.
Another important thing to consider is sizing your radiator. The correct size will depend on two factors: the temperature you want it to maintain and the amount of heat loss that will occur in a room. Incorrect sizing result in poor energy utilization and will cost you money, so it’s good to talk about it with a qualified specialist before installing one in your home.
Underfloor heating systems
Underfloor heating is a state-of-the-art method for space heating. It provides ultimate comfort and does away with issues typically associated with convection heating, such as circulating allergens, drafts and superheated air.
How it works:
Hot water circulates through a network of stainless stain tubing embedded in a home’s concrete slab, and gives off radiant heat that spreads evenly across every corner of the room. Because of this configuration, underfloor heating systems make sense for new builds. Retrofitting can be more expensive, but you can spread the costs by having the pipes laid first and the heat source added at a later date. Underfloor systems are also more cost-effective than radiators over time – they need minimal maintenance or service if installed correctly. If you’re thinking about installing one in your home, consider the pros and cons to help you decide whether it’s right for you.
|If you live in a relatively cold region, underfloor heating lets you walk around barefoot all year.
|Higher upfront costs
|Underfloor heating is more expensive and difficult to install.
|Even and consistent heat distribution
|No hot air blasts or hot spots.
|Major upheaval in older buildings
|It’s important to create the right conditions under the floor for the PVC pipes. In older properties, this process can take a lot of time and cause major upheaval.
|Lower heating bills
|Underfloor systems operate at a lower temperature and can heat a larger area than a comparable size radiator.
|Longer time to warm up
|You’ll need to use a timer to get the system started in good time and make sure rooms are warm enough when you want to use them.
|Floors stay warm even if the room is very draughty or windows are open.
|Heavy, bulky furniture goes in the way of radiant heating
|You can’t use it under large and heavy items, which might restrict the way you arrange your furniture.
|Good selling point
|Underfloor heating is considered a high-spec, state-of-the-art home feature and could attract buyers looking for a luxurious property. It might enhance your home’s market value.
|Heavily carpeted floors defeat its purpose
|Generally speaking, the maximum suitable thickness of carpets above an underfloor system is 1.5 tog. Anything thicker will trap the heat.
|The entire heating system is hidden so it doesn’t break the aesthetics of your home. Plus, you have more space for your decor.
|Suitable for different kinds of flooring
|The system can be installed underneath concrete, stone, tile, wood or carpeted floors.
Underfloor heating is suitable with a variety of heat sources. It’s a good idea to speak with a specialist to find out which works best for your home.
Ducted central heating
This type of system is designed to draw air inside your home, which is passed through a heat exchanger and warmed by gas combustion. The heated air is pushed through a network of ducts and enters each room via vents in the ceiling or on the floor.
Manufacturers make these systems highly efficient with star rating not lower than 4, so the running costs are significantly lower. A central heating solution control panel allows you to raise or lower the temperature in individual rooms.
A word on heat sources
Whichever of central heating solutions you choose, the heat source is the biggest thing that will affect running costs. If you live in Auckland, a natural gas boiler is the most practical choice since it’s readily available and cost effective. Natural gas central heating boilers are much preferred by many because natural gas heat feels warmer and comfortable, and are convenient, reliable and efficient. LPG models are relatively more expensive but are preferable in more rural areas.
Diesel boilers are noisier and costlier to operate than gas models. Coal boilers and wood burners work well in certain situations, although they are high maintenance and require a steady supply of fuel. If your old boiler broke down and you can’t afford a new boiler at the moment you should check out our boiler rental guide and rent a boiler until you can afford to buy a new one.
Another reliable heat source for central heating are heat pumps, which can also double as a hot water heater. Air-to-water heat pumps are touted for being safe, clean, durable and low maintenance. Ground source heat pumps use geothermal energy that is available year round, making them extremely energy efficient. To learn more about central heating solutions and boilers, you can call on the experts at Central Heating in NZ and Heating (0800 443 284) for advice.