Most modern furnace systems utilize some form of forced air heating. The principle is fairly simple. Air travels through a series of ductwork and into a furnace. There, the air passes through a filter to be purified and to remove dust particles.
There are a few different qualities of filter on the market and some remove more impurities than others do. After the air has been filtered, it is warmed by the heating mechanism and then blown, or forced, back into the ductwork and circulated into the home.
Forced air heating is much more effective than the older styles of ductwork heating, which relied exclusively on the laws of physics to heat your home. Air was drawn in from an outside source and heated in a furnace unit, but there was no blower. The heat, which naturally rises, was allowed to filter up through the duct system at its own pace.
While this method of heating does not require any additional electrical expense to power a blower motor, it is usually ineffective at heating the top floors of multilevel homes. The air generally loses a good bit of its warmth by the time it reaches the upper floors.
There is a fine line to balance when weighing the reduced operating costs of gravity based systems vs. a forced air system, but with the continually increasing efficiency of the forced air systems, it seems that they win when looking at a cost vs. performance-based ratio.
There are several things that you need to watch for in order to keep a forced air heating unit functioning properly. The first is that you must change the filter on a regular basis in order for the unit to function at its highest level of efficiency. A blocked or clogged filter will reduce the airflow and cause the motor of the furnace to work harder.
The longer your furnace burns without the proper volume of air moving through the system, the more dollars you are simply burning away in inefficiency. Most filters should be changed every 30 days in prime operating season.
Some manufacturers have developed filters that are good for 90 days, and a few have even developed a 12-month filter. Though the hopes are high, many of these new products are still waiting on performance reviews.
In new residential applications, forced air heating units are by far the most popular source of climate control. Whether the system utilizes natural gas or an electric heat pump, the efficiency of forced air units cannot be disputed. The biggest drawback is that both of these types of units are consumers. They use gas and they use electricity, both of which are valuable commodities that are becoming more expensive all the time.
Other heating systems, like heat exchangers and geo-thermal units, are not consumers. They utilize the heat that naturally occurs in the world, and should be on the short list for every homebuilder.