Heating and Cooling Systems Guide

Air Conditioners Ceiling Fans Electric Heaters  Gas Heaters Patio Heaters Electric Fireplaces

Most people are familiar with the acronym HVAC. It stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. These vital building specialties have the most to do with your feeling of comfort in your home, but many times the different needs of each of these mechanical systems don’t work in tandem with each other, and sometimes actually work against one another. For example, in an effort to save money on heating costs, it’s common for newspaper articles and websites to urge people to get the smallest, most energy-efficient furnaces and heat pumps to reduce the cost of heating your home, while at the same time counseling the homeowner to insulate, weather strip, and seal up every crack in the house. While this might save you money on heating fuel, it can also have a negative effect on the ventilation in your house. Ductwork originally designed to carry large amounts of heated air can fail to adequately address the heating needs of rooms far from the furnace if the heating load is reduced through gains in efficiency.

Small Appliances Can Solve Many HVAC Problems

People are responding to the high cost of heating and cooling by purchasing a wide selection of small appliances that allow them to be as comfortable as possible in the areas where they spend the most time in their home, instead of just cranking up the thermostat in the winter or running the central air conditioning day and night in the summer. This is especially true for people that don’t own their own home, and so have a limited ability to make modifications to central heating and cooling systems, but still want to be comfortable year-round. By using various kinds of small, portable, affordable heating and cooling devices, everyone can achieve a level of comfort never dreamed of just twenty-five years ago, even though energy costs have skyrocketed in the interim.

Real-World Guides to Make Your Home More Comfortable on a Budget

Our purpose on this website is to offer the reader a real-world overview of what’s available on the market today to make your home, condo, school, office, or apartment more comfortable, and without breaking the bank on either the purchase price or on utility or fuel costs. Our buying guides will alert you to the most important aspects of purchasing many types of home heating and cooling appliances, so that you can make an informed decision that suits your budget and your needs.

Some HVAC units can be quite expensive to purchase, and involve a great deal of work to install and look after, so if you make a mistake when you purchase them, you’re likely to be stuck with them for a long time. That’s why it’s important to understand the mysterious jargon that’s common in specialty trades like HVAC before you go shopping. Our buying guides are written with the average homeowner or renter in mind, so you can understand better what’s being offered, and how it might help you achieve comfort in your home.

Increase Comfort With the Smallest Possible Outlay

Another aspect of trying to find solutions to simple HVAC problems in the home is the enthusiasm of HVAC contractors to sell big solutions to even small problems. HVAC professionals are used to dealing with every aspect of different kinds of heating and cooling problems, and a homeowner that inquires how to simply warm up a chilly bathroom on cold winter mornings might be advised to rip out a big and expensive heating system and start over. Our buying guides are designed to offer advice on the smallest, most effective solutions to problems, not just big, expensive fixes that aren’t always necessary.

Check Our Detailed Buying Guides First

Whether you’re renovating an existing home, building a new home from plans, or just trying to make the corner of the living room where you like to watch television a little more comfortable, take a look at our detailed buying guides first, and you’re sure to save a bundle, and be more comfortable as well. We also have unbiased product reviews of many heating and cooling appliances that you can depend upon to save you both time and money when you’re shopping for HVAC appliances:

Types of HVAC Systems

HVAC systems can be quite complex, and each element of the system has to be designed to work in concert with the others or you’ll spend more on fuel or utilities than necessary, and can end up uncomfortable no matter how much you spend. Check our rundown of the different types of HVAC systems so you can speak knowledgably when shopping for the most important mechanical system in your home. Even if you’re just shopping for a space heater to take the chill off a bathroom, you’ll have an easier time making a purchase if you understand the factors that have an effect on the microclimates inside your home.

Types of Electric Heating Systems

Electric resistance heating got a bad reputation back in the 1970s when the price of electricity skyrocketed, but there’s been an explosion of new technologies that make many kinds of electric heating systems competitive with every other kind of heating system. Sometimes all you need to heat a room that’s too far from the central furnace, or is often closed off and gets colder than you’d like, is a simple electric heating device, whether permanently installed or portable. Our guide to electric heating systems will help you decide if any of them are right for your particular needs, and assist you in calculating the cost of purchasing and running these devices. Electric heating devices can be the most expensive to run, but the least expensive to buy, install, and maintain, so for an area that only needs occasional heating they can be ideal.

Infrared Heaters Buying Guide

Manufacturers are now making more models of infrared heaters for consumers to choose from than ever before. Once used only to keep food warm or to warm a cold bathroom, the newest versions of these small zone-heating devices are especially useful for people that are sensitive to very low humidity in heated air, or have problems with allergies caused by the dust carried by hot air furnaces. Infrared heaters warm objects and people, so they’re great at making you feel more comfortable on a chilly evening without turning up the thermostat on the central heat as much. Check our infrared heaters buying guide to get a simple explanation of how these units work, and how they can help you feel warm while saving money on central heating costs.

Space Heaters Buying Guide

If you’re a renter, or if you just want to heat up a small area in your home instead of using the central heating system to get comfortable, portable space heaters are the way to go. Since these heaters are so useful and so popular, there are literally hundreds of thousands of models on the market today, and it can be difficult to sort through them all to find one that’s safe, cost effective, and useful. There are many aspects to choosing an appropriate space heater, and much more than just your comfort is at stake. Portable space heaters can be dangerous if you don’t know how they work, and where it’s appropriate to use them. Check our buying guide and honest and unbiased reviews before you shop, and you’ll be sure to get the best space heater for your money.

Gas Heaters Buying Guide

Natural gas is becoming one of the most popular ways to heat your home. It’s clean, relatively inexpensive, and the appliances and HVAC systems that use it can save you a lot of money while delivering great comfort. Because gas appliances are served by a public utility, it’s best to make an informed decision about changing over to natural gas. By understanding how gas heating appliances work, and how they’re installed and maintained, you’ll have a better idea of the true cost of any appliance on the market, and be able to predict its cost better over its useful life. Read our gas heaters buying guide to find out more, and get additional information about related propane appliances, too.

Radiant Heaters Buying Guide

Radiant heaters are another great way to stay comfortable in a defined area without breaking the bank on central heating. The principle behind radiant heating is not as well understood as forced hot air or baseboard hot water baseboard heating, so it’s useful to find out about the technology before you buy to see if you’ll save money. Radiant heating appliances are generally very safe to use, and for people with sensitivity to airborne dust and low winter humidity, they can be a real help. Learn all about them with our detailed radiant heaters buying guide, and check our unbiased reviews before you shop.

Patio Heater / Outdoor Heat Lamps Buying Guide

Back yards are now more likely to be true outdoor rooms than simple patios. Outdoor patio heaters and heat lamps make it possible to enjoy evenings outside even when it’s a bit chilly, and they extend the outdoor entertaining season further into the fall. Consult our outdoor heat lamp / patio heater buying guide and reviews before you buy, and you’ll understand all the features and benefits of each model.

Air Conditioners Buying Guide

Whether you’re buying a window air conditioner, portable air conditioner or a central air conditioner, our detailed buying guide will help you understand the sometimes confusing terms used by HVAC installers and appliance manufacturers about their products. If you understand how air conditioners work, and how big a unit you need to cool a room or a whole house, you’ll save money when you purchase, and over the life of the appliance as well. You’ll learn that it’s possible to buy an air conditioner that’s too powerful for the area it has to serve, and why it’s imperative to find the properly sized unit. Check our air conditioners buying guide before you buy.

Ceiling Fans Buying Guide

Many people underestimate the power of fans. Especially ceiling fans can reduce the temperature in the room by a few degrees and provide pleasant air flow through the room. This together gives a positive natural climate control feeling. Ceiling fans are very affordable and are energy efficient to use. In the warm areas a combination of an air conditioner with a ceiling fan would make a lot of sense as well. You have the best of both worlds: your AC will have to run less and the ceiling fan provides a nice natural climate for less energy costs!

And now?

Now that you’ve read all about the HVAC systems and the different types available, you can continue to read our buying guides with lots of advice and tips on the specific HVAC system. Anyway, whether you’re looking for a cooling or a heating system, make sure you read everything through and be informed before you get yourself a new system.