A worker cutting tubing for during a radiant floor heating installation, a baseboard heating alternative

If your home has old baseboard heating, you might feel that it’s time to replace it with something more efficient. A more energy-efficient system can help you enjoy greater comfort and see a pleasing decrease in your energy bills.

Most HVAC professionals will tell you, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. If you are happy with your baseboard heat and your utility bills are reasonable, there is no reason to replace the system just because it’s old.

However, if you are dealing with inefficient heating or failing parts, you might want to start looking at an upgrade. Alternatively, if you are in the middle of a remodel, it could be the perfect time to revamp your HVAC system.

Let’s look at all the options.

Ducted Heat Pumps (Regular Air Conditioning)

Heating and cooling with heat pumps isn’t a new thing. A report by the government of Canada shows that this form of HVAC is the go-to option for most Canadians.

a man installs HVAC heat pump ducts inside a wood stud wall in a house

Heat pumps are electrically powered. They extract heat from areas with low temperatures and then deliver the same warmth to places with higher temperatures.

A heat pump can be an excellent replacement for your old baseboard heating system. These systems don’t need to “create” heat like a furnace does. They work via heat transfer with existing heat energy found in the air.

This makes them energy efficient, and you’ll see low utility bills.

Heat pump systems can provide both heating and cooling in a single system.

Overall, heat pumps are reliable and provide a year-round heat supply.

In addition, you’ll enjoy the following:

  • High efficiency
  • Low energy bills
  • Environmental friendliness

Ductless Heat Pumps

Ductless heat pumps, also known as mini-splits, are one of the most popular contemporary home heating options.

Since they do not require any ductwork, they are typically very easy to install and you don’t have to worry about heat loss through ducts. 

Again, these systems are heat pumps so they can provide both heating and cooling on a single system. 

Mini splits are best suited for temperature control in single rooms and small areas. For heating multiple rooms, they need multiple indoor air handlers.

Luckily, these air handlers can all connect to a single outdoor system. This setup allows for zoning but should be taken into account if you have a large home that needs heating.

A homeowner laying on his living room couch uses a remote to adjust the setting of the mini-split air handler on the wall above

Here are several of the ductless heat pumps you can choose from:

  • Mini-split heat pumps
  • Wall-mounted multi-split heat pumps
  • Window heat pumps
  • Through-the-wall heat pumps
  • Portable heat pumps

Note: If you are in a cold climate where temperatures often drop below zero, you will need to get a mini split model with a low temperature operating range. These units are available but can be a little more expensive.

High-Efficiency Furnace

Forced-air furnaces are one of the most popular heating choices in the US. They connect to a central HVAC system with ductwork and provide even heating to your entire home.

two home grey furnaces stacked on top of each other with silver ducting running in and out of them

High-efficiency furnaces use technology that enhances comfort and promotes quieter operation. For an appliance to be energy-efficient, it should have a good AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating. 

For example, a furnace with a high rating means that it loses less energy to processes such as combustion. The most efficient furnaces and boilers have AFUE ratings of about 95%. With a high-efficiency furnace, you can enjoy the comfort of up to 98.5% AFUE.

Additionally, high-efficiency furnaces emit fewer greenhouse gasses. This characteristic makes them a more sustainable heating option. Most high-efficient furnaces use natural gas, which is one of the cheapest forms of heating fuel on the market.

Wood Heating

These systems are popular in many parts of the world because they are an efficient and renewable heat source.

They do, however, require some maintenance and a bit of work to keep them going. If you don’t like the idea of sourcing, chopping, stacking, and storing wood, this is not the right choice for you.

Wood pellet's and a log transposed on a table in front of a non-electric pellet stove in the background

If you want wood heat, you can use a fireplace or a wood-burning stove to heat your home.

The stove or fireplace is connected to a ductwork system that circulates the warm air throughout the house.

While the most common types of wood heating systems are stoves and fireplaces, you may also explore other options, such as:

  • Pellet stoves
  • Wood-burning furnaces
  • Outdoor wood boilers

Wood heating systems can be used with other heating sources or as the sole heat source. They can often be connected to your hot water heater too.

Wood heating is a cost-effective way to heat a home. In fact, it is one of the cheapest heating options available if you source your own wood. Plus, it can also provide a unique sense of warmth and ambiance.

Solar Heating

Solar heating harnesses energy from the sun to heat your home. The heat is then stored for later use. 

This method is an excellent alternative to baseboard heating if you’re looking for an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to generate heat during the winter.

A solar water heater, a baseboard heating alternative, installed on a roof reflects the clouds and blue sky above

You can use solar energy in a variety of ways. The list is endless, from powering your home and businesses to providing energy for heat.

Solar heating supplements existing heating systems. They can also serve as primary heating sources if it’s not too cold outside.

Whichever the case, this form of heating will help you reduce your carbon footprint. You’ll also save money on your energy bills.

For solar heating considerations, make sure you are in a climate that regularly gets enough sun.

For example, rainy Washington might not be the best place to set up solar panels.

Radiant Heating

Radiant floor heating is a system that emits heat from under the floors.

It’s a popular replacement for old baseboard heating because it distributes the heat evenly throughout your living space. 

Radiant heating is a good choice for rooms that are not used all the time, such as bathrooms. The heat is not constantly on in these rooms and can be turned off when not in use.

Keep in mind that in-floor heating will require a bit of construction. More often than not, your existing floor needs to come up so the heating mats or water lines can be placed beneath it.

Here are the varying radiant heating system options available:

Hydronic (Water-Based) Radiant Heat

Hydronic radiant heating systems are the most popular type. They use water to transfer heat.

This makes them more efficient than electric radiant heating systems. However, they can be more expensive to install and maintain.

These systems are cheaper to operate than electric in-floor heating but they require a boiler system to heat the water and circulate in through your home.

The pipes and valves of a hydronic radiant floor heating system are shown on the wall attached to the exposed lines spanning the floor

Electric Radiant Heating

Electric radiant heating systems are slightly less popular. However, they have some advantages over hydronic systems. 

Their biggest advantage is that they are easier to install. 

These systems do not require a boiler to generate heat as they are fully electric. And unlike a hydronic system, there is no risk of water leaks that could damage your home. 

Electric in-floor heating will be a little more expensive to operate than hydronic heating systems.

Infrared Radiant Heating

Infrared radiant heating systems are the least popular type of radiant heating system. However, they are still used in some situations.

Infrared radiant heating uses infrared waves to transfer heat, making it the most efficient type of system. 

A homeowner's hands at a safe distance from an IR heater, a good baseboard heating aternative

In addition:

  • Homeowners can use them to heat large areas quickly.
  • They are less expensive than other types of radiant heating systems.

Electric Heater Thermostats

This type of system can be more energy-efficient than traditional baseboard heaters. They can also help you better regulate the temperature in your home.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering electric heater thermostats:

  • Ensure the thermostat is compatible with your type of heater – there are different types of electric heater thermostats. You’ll want to ensure you get one compatible with your particular type of heater.
  • Consider the size of the thermostat – the size will determine how much area it can heat. If you have a large home, you’ll need a larger thermostat to heat the entire space.
  • Choose a thermostat with the features you want – for example, some electric heater thermostats have timers and temperature displays. Choose the features that are most important to you. 
  • Compare prices – electric heater thermostats can vary in price. So, compare prices before you make a purchase.
  • Installation – some electric heater thermostats are easy to install, while others require professional installation. If you’re uncomfortable installing a thermostat, hire a professional.

Final Thoughts

There are several HVAC options available if you are looking to replace your old baseboard heating system.

No two homes are the same, so the best choice for your home will depend on a variety of factors. The purpose of this article was to look at multiple options so you could discuss them with an HVAC professional.

Replacing an entire HVAC system is not a DIY job but it is important to have as much information as you can.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *