Old houses are like a gem to many people. They give you a feel of what the good old days were about, something that you’ll be hard-pressed to find in modern homes.
However, while they offer classic charm, you’ll often find several issues when it comes to heating old houses. Their era of heating alternatives and installations are usually very different from what’s available today. But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good heating system for your old, classic home.
Modern-day technology offers several heating options for old houses. While not all new heating systems will be compatible, we have a few that can offer the comfort you seek. There are a few choices for heating an old home, but what is the best way to heat an old house?
Some options include:
Top Old Homes Heating Options
- Radiant Heating
Radiant heating is one of the most prudent ways to heat an old house. It is popular in the northern climate because air conditioning is not essential. Radiant heating operates by warming radiators on the floors beneath your feet or along the exterior walls.
The heat comes from hydronic or electric-resistance coils in the radiator. The advantage of radiant heating is that it’s pocket-friendly ($8-$12 per square foot installed).
When you pump heated water in a boiler via pipes to the radiators, this is known as hydronic heating. The benefit of having radiant floor heat in your old house is that it does not blow air unnecessarily. It creates a more comfortable and consistent atmosphere around your house.
- Forced Air System
For close to five decades, forced air systems have dominated modern homes’ cooling and heating setups. It can also be a good option for heating old houses, although it has its drawbacks.
For instance, installing those insulated ducts by yourself might damage your home’s original structure, and the work can be quite tedious. For this reason, as a homeowner, you’ll need to seek professional services to ensure that everything is done to perfection.
As a tip to avoid possible damages to the structure, you can use the basement and the attic for this installation. Simply have the fan-coil unit installed in the basement, with floor registers on the first floor. Ceiling outlets should be on the second floor, while you can install a different unit in the attic.
- Steam Radiators and Hot Water
Radiators were used to heat most older houses in the past. Although they were noisy when producing heat, they were the most effective way of heating up indoor spaces. The main advantage of radiators was that they were easy to install. However, the radiators faded away as HVAC units gained more popularity in the 1960s.
Lately, however, they have made a comeback and are increasing by the day, especially for people looking for the system’s decorative value. People are gladly using them as decorative antiques and for compatibility with older homes.
Therefore, if steam radiators and hot water heated ones were used for your older house, you could refinish or reinstate them.
- Updated Fireplace
The traditional cozy fireplace can be refurbished and refined with innovations to provide all the warmth you need in cold seasons. Homeowners can choose to modify the existing fireplaces with new inserts that allow for wood-burning, gas, or electric use.
The best part is that some of these inserts will steadily provide you with much-needed heat even in the event of power surges.
Furnaces are common with modern heating systems, and they are also common heating options for old houses in the US.
A furnace operates by producing heat in burners found inside a cabinet and distributing this heat throughout the house. Furnaces can function on natural gas, oil, or electricity.
- Modern Modulating-Condensing Boilers
These are among the best for old home heating systems. They only heat the level of water required to offer your home’s heating needs.
The boilers also provide important energy conversation, reducing the burden of high energy bills for old heating houses.
- Mini-Duct Forced Air System
This is a heating option that has minimal disruptions. You may be wondering why mini-ducts are specifically being used in air conditioners. With the flexible tubing in place, the mini-duct prevents unnecessary damages to your house’s structure.
The vents for this system are found in the ceiling, and it allows old homeowners to protect the framings and the walls from drilling and installation that may compromise its integrity. When used together with an electric furnace, it’s very effective at heating homes, even old houses.
- Ductless Heating Systems
Where heating systems are concerned, most old houses don’t provide room for ductwork. This means that adding a ducted heating system requires you to cut up the walls to install the ductwork.
This is both a tedious and expensive process that many homeowners don’t want to engage in. and for this reason, they opt for ductless systems.
Ductless heating systems are just heat pumps. They have an outdoor condenser that is linked to multiple interior air handlers, which help to distribute hot air inside the house. It’s an excellent option for heating old homes.
Factors to Consider when Purchasing a Heating System
- The Fuel Type or Energy Source
Normally, the heating system is usually run by oil or gas. In most places, natural gas is the most common option. However, since natural gas can sometimes be scarce, some homeowners opt for propane or LP gas to heat their systems. An electric heat pump is also another great alternative.
Before selecting your energy source, ensure that the fuel type is always available and you know its cost.
- Distribution System
When purchasing a heating solution for your old houses, the distribution system is something to factor in. In most cases, a forced-air heating unit wins out without a contest. It makes it very easy for heat to be supplied via the air ducts or registers throughout the house.
That being said, in hot water or hydronic systems, heated water from boilers is usually transported via copper or plastic piping to help heat the house. This can be a viable alternative if you can’t use a forced-air heating unit for some reason.
- Total Costs
Cost is a key factor that can’t be ignored in any purchase. Always consider the upfront costs and those for running and maintaining the system.
It’s always best to connect with a professional HVAC contractor who will provide you with the estimate of the heating system you wish to buy. Anderson Air is only a call away to help provide you with a quick estimate for your installation.