If you are in the market for a new heating system, your choices are generally a forced-air or hot water system. You might want to consider a hydro-air heating system, which can give you some of the benefits from each of the main heating system types.
A hydro-air system initially works like a hot water system. When the water is heated, it is sent to coils that initiate the forced-air components. As air passes over the heated coils, heated air is sent through the duct work, much like in a traditional forced-air system.
Hydro-air is more akin to a forced-air system because it is easy to use the same system for air conditioning. The existing duct work used for your hydro-air system will be used for cool air during the warmer months. With a hot water system, you will need to have a separate means of cooling your home, such a window units. Keeping your heating and air conditioning system together, whether through forced-air or hydro-air, is generally less expensive to install and use. Another way your hydro-air system is used in multiple ways is for hot water. Much like a traditional hot water system, since the water is heated to provide warmth, the same mechanism can be used to provide hot water.
Improved Heat Distribution
One of the compromises between a forced-air and hot water system is the way heat is distributed throughout your home. Forced-air systems generally provide poorer heat distribution than their hot water counterparts. This is because the heated air is usually blown into the room closer to the ceiling, whereas hot water systems pass heated water under the floor. Since hot air rises, it is harder for warm air at the ceiling level to eventually fill the room from top to bottom. This often results in colder floors, and it may take longer to feel the benefits of turning on your heating system. Since hot water is already used with a hydro-air system, it is much easier to add radiant heating to your existing system, especially for cold spots in smaller rooms of your home.
Better Air Quality
The hybrid nature of a hydro-air system negates some of the disadvantages of a purely forced-air heating system, such as dealing with air quality issues. One concern with a forced-air system is dealing with humidity levels. During the colder months, using the heat can often cause the air inside your home to be unusually dry. This can cause dry skin, cracked lips, and nose bleeds. Hydro-air systems do not cause low humidity levels like forced-air systems. Although a hot water system is generally better for air quality because there is no air blown throughout the home, a hydro-air system can prevent the need for extra equipment to manage the humidity levels and air filtration throughout your home than if you choose forced-air.
There is no single heating system that will be the perfect fit for everyone. If you are on the fence about your next heating system, consider a hydro-air system to gain benefits from both forced-air and hot water systems. A company like Scott's Heating & Air Conditioning Services can tell you more.