What type of heating system do I have?

The heat of Texas Summer is over – mostly!! Fall weather is late but it is upon us again and Winter is just around the corner.  Many homeowners call us with heating issues and aren’t sure what kind of heating system they have. Below are the common types of heating systems in Texas that you will find in your home and how to identify them.

Gas Furnace:

Gas furnaces run of of natural gas piped into you home. A gas furnace is the most common, and in our opinion, the best form of heating equipment in the DFW area. Gas furnaces are less expensive to run because natural gas has been historically cheaper to buy than electricity.  Natural gas futures also show that it will be an affordable fuel supply for many years to come. Another option in some areas is to retrofit a natural gas furnace to burn propane gas. Unfortunately, if your home doesn’t have gas service, then this heating option is not available to you. To see if you have a gas furnace, go into the attic or closet where your indoor AC / Heat unit is located. A gas furnace will have two visible components:

  1. A thick metal flue vent that is 4″ or more in diameter
  2. A rigid, 1/2″ gas line running into the heating unit.

Electric Heat:

Electric heater systems are coils that are installed inside of air handlers that run off of electricity only. This heating method can be expensive to operate if you have a high heating demand. An electric heating unit can be identified a couple of ways:

  1. Look at your breaker panel and find the breaker labeled “heat”, an electric heating system will have one large breaker (100amp) or two medium sized breakers (30 amp or 60amp).
  2. Look at your indoor heating / AC unit – the absence of the 4″ flue vent or rigid gas line described for the gas furnace is another clue that you have an electric heater.

If you have electric heat don’t feel like you are destined to pay heating bills forever. Fortunately, you can pair electric heat with a Heat Pump unit that we will talk about next to keep the winter bills down.

Heat Pump:

The concept of a heat pump is something that can confuse customers if they haven’t worked with one before. Here is why: A heat pump creates heat by running your air conditioner in the winter time. How is that possible? A heat pump has the ability to reverse the cycle of refrigerant so that it makes hot air in the winter and cold air in the summer. Heat pumps run off of electricity also, but have the advantage of using less energy than most electric heat systems.

Heat pumps are designed for moderate climates like DFW, so they have trouble keeping up when the temperature dips below freezing. Because of this, heat pumps are usually paired with “emergency” heat systems to keep you warm in the extreme cold. Since heat pumps look like regular air conditioners, they are difficult to identify by the untrained eye. One way to check is to look at your thermostat. Go through the COOL/HEAT/OFF settings. If you come across a setting that says EM HEAT or AUX HEAT, odds are that you have heat pump.

So if you aren’t sure what is heating your home, take the information you learned today and go take a look to see what you have. Keep in mind that heating equipment is dangerous and easily burn or electrocute anyone who isn’t trained and being cautious. Always rely on an expert for your heating maintenance and repair needs.