Top 3 Home Heating Options

Posted On: October 2, 2020

With temperatures finally dropping, it’s time to think about keeping your home warm and comfortable this winter!  Today, the three most common and efficient ways to heat a home include a furnace, a heat pump, or a boiler.

Heat Pumps

When it comes to heat pumps, you can choose between geothermal and air-source. Because heat pumps are powered with electric or geothermal energy, they are an environmentally friendly home heating system.

  • Geothermal heat pumps (or ground source heat pumps) use heat that is stored in the earth. While many argue the geothermal heat pumps are the most efficient heating system available due to abundantly available geothermal heat, the system itself can be quite expensive for the average homeowner. Geothermal heat pumps are pretty rare to see. A downside to geothermal is that many companies do not work on or install geothermal systems.
  • Air-source heat pumps are by far the most common type of heat pump.  They use electricity and extract the heat from the air outside and filter it directly into your home. In most cases, air-source heat pumps are going to be the most efficient heating in milder winter climates.


A furnace offers three different ways to be fueled – gas, oil, or electric.

  • Gas furnaces use natural gas that flows through a gas line. It’s important to avoid using old models, as they can be unsafe or inefficient. Natural gas furnaces are the most common type of furnaces in the Richmond area. Gas furnaces can also use propane, but propane can be a costly fuel source for everyday heating.
  • Oil is among the warmest home heating methods and mostly found in older homes. One downside is that oil prices fluctuate, so the cost to maintain and keep it full with oil may vary or be higher than gas or electric furnaces. Another downside is the tank needs to be refilled on a regular basis.
  • Electrical furnaces do not emit carbon monoxide, making them the best choice to be environmentally conscious. However, due to the high cost of electricity, an electric furnace may not be the best option for everyday heating. Electric furnaces work best and most efficiently when paired with a heat pump.


A boiler will heat water and send this hot water through piping and radiators, which is used to heat your home. Boilers use a combination of electricity and a primary fuel source, like gas, to provide the heating. In our area, mostly older homes still have boilers that provide the home’s heat. In the Richmond area, it is very rare to see a boiler in a home that was built after the 1970s.

How to know which energy-efficient system is best for your home?

When trying to figure out the most efficient way to heat your house, you will need to consider the following:

  • The size and age of your home: The size of your home doesn’t always affect the size of your heating system. Just because your home may be smaller does not always mean your heating unit should be small too. Short Pump Heating & Air can help assess and decide what system is best for the size and age of your home.
  • Your budget: While many argue high-efficiency heating systems save you money in the long-term, they are usually more of a financial investment initially, than lower-efficiency systems. Short Pump Heating & Air does offer zero-interest financing options if you are concerned the high-efficiency systems are out of your budget.
  • Fuel availability: In some regions, certain types of fuel — like oil — are more difficult or expensive to access. Also, some homes do not have access to natural gas options.

To learn more or speak to a professional HVAC servicer, call 804-364-9040. Short Pump Heating & Air will come out and inspect your home to help you decide which heating option is the best for you and your family!

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