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Furnace Replacement Options for Maryland Residents

January 25, 2024

The dreaded day has finally come–the day that your furnace stops working. Now comes a big decision of whether to get another furnace installed, or look at your other options. But what other options are there? Are there more reliable and less reliable options? In this blog post, we will explore the different heating system options for Maryland to help you make a more informed decision. 

 

Types of heating systems 

When it comes to the types of heating systems you can get installed in your home, there are a few options you can choose from. There are furnaces, heat pumps, and boilers. Let’s dive into your options and weigh the pros and cons of each.

 

Furnaces

Furnaces are one option that you can have installed in your home. There are three main types of furnaces: gas furnaces, oil furnaces, and electric furnaces. Let’s take a deeper look at what each type offers, as well as the pros and cons:

 

1.Gas furnaces

Gas furnaces run off of natural gas–as the name suggests. To power this type of furnace, residents have a natural gas line which delivers gas to your home. The furnace ignites the gas which warms the air in the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger then transfers the warm air to the colder air inside your home. 

Pros: Natural gas furnaces are a popular choice among homeowners because of how efficient they are. Since they are more efficient, they can help you save money on your monthly energy bill. 

 

Cons: One downside is that gas furnaces typically cost more upfront than other types of furnaces. They also do not last as long as an oil-powered furnace.

 

2. Oil furnaces

Oil-powered furnaces run on tanks of oil, which the owner must purchase, replace, and store. The oil is burned in a combustion chamber, and the heat created during the combustion is blown into your home. There are a few pros and cons with this option.

Pros: Oil furnaces typically last twice as long as gas furnaces and also cost less upfront. 

 

Cons: Although oil furnaces last longer, they are much less efficient. Also, the prices of oil fluctuate a lot which makes it hard to gauge your monthly expenses. Another downside is that you will have to have a space to store your oil tank.

 

3. Electric furnaces

Unlike gas and oil furnaces, electric furnaces use electric heating elements to heat the air rather than combustion. Once the air heats up, it is pushed into the ductwork in your home to distribute the warm air. There are a few pros and cons to consider with electric furnaces.

Pros: One pro about having an electric furnace is that the owner does not have to worry about refueling it. Since it runs off of electricity, it just needs to be plugged in. 

 

Cons: There are a few cons to electric furnaces. Firstly, they are not very energy efficient compared to gas furnaces. Since they run off of electricity, when the cost of electricity goes up, that also means that your heating bill also goes up. This can lead to a very expensive monthly bill. 

 

Heat pumps

Another option you have is getting a heat pump installed. There are a few different types of heat pumps that have their pros and cons. There are air-to-air heat pumps, water-to-air heat pumps, and ground-coupled heat pumps. There is also an option to pair a heat pump with an oil or gas furnace. Let’s dive into the pros and cons.

 

1.Air-to-air heat pump

Air-to-air heat pumps exchange heat from the outside air to air in your home. The warm air enters your home through fan coil units, more simply known as blowers. This type of heat pump is sometimes referred to as air conditioning. You may think of air conditioning as a way to cool the air, but it also can be used to heat air. 

Pros: Having an air-to-air heat pump can save you money on energy bills because it is highly efficient. They are also more environmentally friendly because they do not directly run off of gas or oil. 

 

Cons: A downside to having a system that runs off of electricity is that your electricity bill will most likely increase with the use of the heat pump. They also cost more upfront than other systems. If you are looking for the lowest upfront cost, an air-to-air heat pump is not the best option. 

 

2. Water-to-air heat pumps

These heat pumps do exactly as their name suggests. They exchange heat from water underground and send that heat to the air in your home. There are many advantages to having this in your home.

Pros: Water-to-air heat pumps are very straight-forward and simple in design, making it very easy for HVAC technicians to install and service them. Shorter installation times will save you money. They are also low maintenance, so you don’t have to constantly worry about fixing and maintaining it. 

 

Cons: While you won’t have to spend tons of money on maintenance, you will have to dish out a little more cash upfront for the pump itself. Another factor to consider is if you will get the open-loop system, which requires much more maintenance because it uses underground pipes. These pipes send water from a nearby aquifer to an indoor geothermal heat pump to warm the air in your house. 

 

3. Ground-coupled heat pumps

Ground-coupled heat pumps use thermal energy from underground and transfer it to heat your home. It achieves this by taking underground thermal energy, absorbing it, then pushing the solution back into the heat pump to exchange with refrigerant. This creates a vapor which is compressed, creating heat. The heat is passed through a heat exchanger to transfer the heat to air. The warm air is then circulated throughout your home.

Pros: Ground-coupled heat pumps are unaffected by weather conditions because they extract heat from under the earth’s surface. This makes them just as effective in winter as they are in the summer. Another advantage is that they are extremely energy efficient and boast an efficiency return of over one-hundred percent. Also, homeowners who choose ground-coupled heat pumps can expect big savings on their energy bill because ground-coupled heat pumps use very little electricity. 

 

Cons: Given that this kind of heat pump requires pipes under the ground, installation is a big undertaking and will be much more expensive than the other options. The cost of the system is also significantly higher than the other types of heating systems. 

 

Boilers

There are quite a few different types of boilers that you can choose from. There are steam boilers, hot water boilers, natural gas boilers, electric boilers, oil boilers, and finally, condensing boilers. Let’s take a look at each of these and weigh the pros and cons.

 

1. Steam boilers

Steam boilers use a heat exchanger to heat water and distribute it to different radiators around your home via a piped system. More specifically, steam from the heated water makes its way to the radiators around your house. Once the steam reaches the radiators, they radiate heat into your home. There are both advantages and disadvantages to having a steam boiler.

Pros: Steam boilers do not require any energy sources to create flow. This is because the steam flows naturally to the different parts of your home. Another advantage is that it provides cleaner air than forced air systems and is much quieter.

 

Cons: Steam boilers can be dangerous if not maintained properly. They operate at high temperature and pressure and can explode if not maintained. Also, these systems are very slow to startup and are not very efficient.

 

2. Hot water boilers

A hot water boiler does exactly as the name suggests. Water stored in the boiler is heated up by pumping it through the system. The heat from the water comes out of the radiators throughout your home. 

Pros: One big advantage of having a hot water boiler is that it more evenly distributes heat in your home, unlike some forced air systems. Water heating systems are very quiet when running and also cost less to run than forced air systems.

 

Cons: A big disadvantage of choosing a hot water boiler is that the installation cost will be significantly more expensive. This is because you will need to have all of the proper piping systems installed as well as the boiler itself. Also, replacement parts for boilers can be more expensive than for forced air systems.

 

3. Natural gas boilers

Natural gas boilers run off of natural gas via gas lines running under your house. There are both advantages and disadvantages to having a gas boiler. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

Pros: While gas boilers do cost more than oil boilers, they are cheaper to run than the oil boilers. This ultimately saves you money in the long run. Also, gas boilers burn much cleaner than oil boilers and have less of an environmental impact. Another good thing is that you do not need any storage, unlike the oil boiler which needs an area to store the oil tank.

 

Cons: There is a higher initial cost for gas boilers. In fact, they can cost almost twice as much as oil boilers. Another con is that these boilers are prone to gas leaks. 

 

4. Oil boilers

Oil boilers work similarly to gas boilers, but instead of using gas, it uses oil. 

Pros: A good thing about oil boilers is that the initial cost is lower than natural gas boilers. They are also more safe than other methods. 

 

Cons: Even though oil boilers are cheaper in terms of up front costs, fueling your oil boiler can add up quickly. Oil prices are unpredictable and fluctuate during different times of the year. The prices tend to be more expensive in the winter months, which is the time you will need heat the most. 

 

5. Electric boilers

Electric boilers use electricity to provide heating to your home. 

Pros: One of the good things about having an electric boiler is that they run very quietly. You won’t have to worry about loud noises disturbing anyone in your home. Electric boilers are also cheaper to install. High efficiency helps you save money on your bills each month.

 

Cons: The cost of electricity is more expensive than natural gas and oil. Also, having a boiler that strictly runs off of electricity means that if your power goes out, you are without heat until the power comes back on. 

 

What Option is Right for You?

Now that you know all of the different types of heating systems along with their pros and cons, take some time to consider your situation. Factors like the size of your home, area of residence, and your budget will play a big role in determining what option is right for you. Here at MaxAir, we strive to assist and guide all of our customers based on their individual needs. If you are interested in looking more into your options or have any questions, give us a call at 410-766-4989.

 

Are you wondering how to determine the best HVAC system for your needs? Asking the appropriate questions beforehand can help. Consider inquiring about these key factors before installing your HVAC system.