Central Heating Systems – Buyer’s Checklist

One of the best ways to increase the value of a home is by upgrading the central heating system. Some of the best reasons for updating is for comfort, to conserve energy or because the current system is no longer operable. Most homes are generally operating at an average of 75% rate of efficiency meaning that 75% of the energy (normally gas, oil or electricity) is utilized in the operation of the furnace. Therefore an average of 25% is wasted, which is money down the drain. Newer central heating systems are made to run more efficiently than ever before. Currently most furnaces that are being installed are operating at a 90% or better average rate of efficiency. Conserving energy equates to lower utility bills which means more money in your bank account. Therefore over time the new central heating system will pay for itself. In addition, the upfront market value of a home is increased with the installation of a new central heating system. If you were to sell the home, the value would be increased by the new system and would also make the home more appealing to a potential buyer.

With central heating, the heat is generated in one central place and then distributed throughout the home or building. This approach differs from local heating where the heating source such as a space heater or fireplace heats only one area or room. A typical system for central heating involves burning fuel such as gas, oil or coal in a boiler or furnace. In a home the furnace is normally located in the basement, attic, utility room or an airing closet. In commercial buildings, the furnace is normally in a dedicated boiler room. Electric central heating systems are more common where there are low cost electricity supplies or geothermal heat pumps are available. There are also green/environmentally geared central heating systems which are becoming more and more popular with growing concern for the environment. Such alternatives to fossil fuels such as solar and wind power are becoming more common but they are still much more expensive to install and therefore have not yet become mainstream.

The heat generated in the furnace, either from electricity, the combustion of fossil fuels or by seizing solar energy, is then distributed throughout the home. There are various methods for doing this. One method is to pump heated air through duct work. Another method involves heating water in the boiler and then circulating steam or hot water through pipes around the home or building. The pipes lead to wall mounted radiators. Each radiator has a regulating control so that the heat can be adjusted in the room.

The central heating system is often part of a larger and more expansive HVAC system (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning). HVAC systems are used to control the temperature and often the humidity. Updating a HVAC system improves a home’s comfort and value while lowering utility costs but does often come with a hefty price tag. Factors such as size, brand and model all contribute to the price of a HVAC system. The price of a new system can range from $750 to $3000. A new furnace will cost on average $1500. This price does not include any accoutrements or installation. When it’s time to get a new central heating system or HVAC system, price is often a concern. It’s important to do your homework so you understand what type of system you currently have and what you need to have implemented. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and always get at least three quotations from notable contractors.