Congratulations, you’re now a homeowner! This new stage of your life can be an emotional rollercoaster, especially when you realize you’re now responsible for everything that needs to be fixed and replaced, instead of calling your landlord. As we head into fall and winter, now is the ideal time to understand the different types of heating systems so you can properly troubleshoot any problems you might be facing.

What Type of Heating System Do You Have?

Before understanding all of the details of your heating system, it’s important to know what kind of heating system and fuel type you have.


A majority of homes utilize furnaces which can be fueled by gas, propane, oil, or electricity.

How It Works

When your home gets colder than the preset temperature on your thermostat, an electric system alerts the pilot light, which lights the furnace’s burner. When the furnace’s burner is lit, the air in your furnace heats up and is blown into the rooms of your home via air ducts and vents. Furnaces typically last 15-30 years and are one of the least expensive types of heating systems.


Similar to a furnace, a boiler can be fueled by gas, propane, oil, or electricity.

How It Works

A boiler will heat water until it steams, which is lighter and hotter than water. This type of heating system is more efficient than other heating systems because once the steam is distributed through the pipes, the water (still hot) returns to the boiler and reheats to complete the cycle again.

The downside to boiler systems is that the pipes are expensive to replace and repair but they have a lifespan of approximately 30 years.

Heat Pump

A modern way to heat a home, heat pumps run on electricity.

How It Works

Heat pumps are made out of two units – an indoor unit (air handler) and an outdoor unit (heat pump). Rather than generating hot or cold air, heat pumps move air. When it’s hot in your home, the heat pump will take this air and displace it outside and when it’s cold in your home, it’ll take the warm air and move it into the rooms of your home.