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Serving West Michigan Since 2004

Serving West Michigan Since 2004

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Are Furnaces My Only Choice for Heating?

family-warming-hands-on-radiatorNo, there are plenty of other heaters available!

It’s no secret that furnaces are one of the most common heating systems in Grand Rapids, MI and in the country. Statistically speaking, you most likely have a furnace in your home, too! For those who have only owned a furnace their entire lives, they may not realize that there are other options out there. And, since each system is different, that could mean they’re missing out on some benefits that a furnace isn’t able to provide.

You might find that your furnace is still the best choice, but just to be sure, we’ll go through several heating options and their main differences.


Boilers are sometimes regarded as one of the best kinds of heating systems out there. Although they require an extensive and complex installation, boilers will stand the test of time. They have fewer moving parts, meaning they tend to have fewer repair issues on average.

Typical boiler installations will generate steam and release it through radiators installed at various points in the home. The steam rises up and heats the room, as opposed to coming in through a vent, like in the case of a furnace. This form of heating tends to be more efficient.

The other type of boiler is explained further just below in the next section.

Radiant/In-Floor Heating Systems

Radiant heating systems are said to be much more comfortable, since they don’t dry out the air or blow around dust and allergens.

Radiant heating systems are typically integrated as part of a boiler. Hot water flows through a series of pipes installed under your floor or behind the walls, and the resultant heat will radiate through the room and warm the people inside.

Not all radiant systems require a boiler, however. They can stand alone when powered by electricity. Instead of pipes, they use a series of electrical heating strips. The benefit of the boiler variation, however, is that you’re able to fuel the system using natural-gas instead of electricity.

Heat Pumps

If a boiler doesn’t sound right for you or if forced-air systems have never bothered you before, then a heat pump might be worth considering simply for its efficiency.

Electric furnaces are efficient in their own right, but the cost of electricity often cancels out these benefits. Heat pumps use electricity, too, but they use it much more efficiently. Instead of creating heat through electrical resistance, they move heat from one area to another. This same function can be reversed so that your heat pump can become an efficient air conditioner.

Ductless Mini-Splits

One type of heat pump is a ductless mini-split system. As the name implies, ductless systems don’t need ducts—something that both traditional heat pumps and furnaces require to send air through to all the rooms of your home. By eliminating ducts, you will not need to worry about any duct-related efficiency issues, such as leaks.

If you’re interested in all of your options for heating, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for advice from a professional. Contact Westshore Mechanical today!

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