Buyers Guide & Information

Most Efficient Heating Systems

There are several different types of home heating, each with advantages and disadvantages. This review will examine the most energy-efficient heating systems.

Best Budget Wall Mounted Electric Heater

The Energy Costs of Heating a Home

Unfortunately, heating your home costs actual money. Those costs vary based on the type of heating fuel (natural gas, electricity, propane, etc.) as well as the type of heater you use, where you live in the country, and other factors.

To pinpoint an exact cost isn’t something this review can do for you. However, we can look at averages to give you an idea of what you should expect and how to note when your heating solution isn’t very energy efficient.

For example, electric heat has a national average cost of 13 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Your exact price can fall anywhere between 4 cents and 19 cents per kWh. You will need to contact your electric company or look at past bills to determine how much you are paying.

Heat is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs. To be considered energy efficient, your total heating use for an entire year (adding together all types, from electric to propane or natural gas, etc.) should fall at or below 30,000 BTUs for your home’s square footage. Anything over 30,000 is considered high and isn’t energy efficient.

To perform the calculations and find out exactly how many BTUs your heating consumes, you can use an online calculator like this one.

Considerations When Choosing a Home Heating Solution

Building Specifications

The efficiency of the heating system can only take you so far. You need to know what type and size your home is and how well it is protected from the elements. Older homes getting a remodel or upgrade need to verify square footage, check existing ductwork and wiring.

The age of your home will come into play as well. New homes have higher and more strict building code standards and are naturally more efficient at retaining heat. However, older homes may need more work done to make them as efficient as possible.

Heating Requirements

Part of that work for older homes is insulation. If your home requires new insulation, that needs to be done simultaneously as you install the new heating system. This will help cut down on labor costs for the installs.

You also need to know the size of the system you are installing. You may need to make room for the overall dimensions or add bracers to keep it mounted in the space provided. You should also be aware of the system’s capabilities, such as the total square feet the unit can provide warmth to effectively.

Fuel Type

There are several types of heating fuels that you have to choose from, which may be the biggest decision you make along the way. The two most popular are electric and natural gas. Both lines run to homes and are simple to install.

You also have other fuel sources to consider. Propane, kerosene, fuel oil, and other less common methods are also viable and efficient. For example, if you are installing in an RV or mobile home, propane may be a more economical and efficient choice.

Dependability & Warranty

When searching for your next heating system for your home, the warranty will play a bigger part than most other purchases. You want a long warranty with great coverage, straightforward claims, and expert help.

However, you also want to ensure you buy from a reputable company. You won’t find anything useful in going with a 20-year warranty if the company won’t be around in 3 years. Knowing this can be difficult, of course, but going with companies that have been around for a while already is generally safer than new companies you have never heard of.

Installation & Mounting Options

There is a vast difference between mounting or installing a space heater versus a central heating and air system. Wall heaters are simple to install, while whole-home central heating or forced-air heating requires a professional installation.

Some units will come with brackets for wall or ceiling mounts, and others need closets and base stands installed. Still others are portable, with handles and wheels or even feet attached so you can leave them on the floor. Knowing what you need and how the chosen system is installed will be crucial to the final purchase options.

Features & More

Heating systems come with a wide variety of operational and safety features. To help save you some money and narrow your options when making a decision, it is essential to know the features and options as well as which ones you need.

Operational features include adjustable thermostats, timers, remote, or mobile app controls. Safety features include things like thermal overheating protection, tip-over automatic shut-off, low oxygen sensors, and automatic timer shut-offs.

Related Article – Why is a Sequencer in HVAC Important to Heating Elements


Cost is broken down into two categories, the cost of the system (including installation) and cost of running the heater. Operational costs depend on the BTU output and wattage requirements of the heater, as well as how much you pay for the fuel.

System costs include the costs of the actual system, or how much you pay to bring the heater home. They also extend to the installation and additional equipment needs such as ducts, wiring, or mounting brackets. Knowing what the total costs include and how much the system will cost you to operate on an annual basis is one of the most crucial consideration factors.

7 Most Efficient Heating Systems for Homes Reviewed

Central/Forced Air (Furnace, Boiler & Heat Pump)

1. Goodman GMSS920803BN

Most Efficient Forced Air Heating System
Heater Type Central Electric Forced-Air
Efficiency Rating AFUE 92%
Coverage Area 4500 Sq. Ft.
BTU Rating 80000
Safety Features Overload circuit protection, thermal overheating protection
How It Works

Forced air heating works by using electricity to heat air or liquid through pipes, or in some cases, large plates of electric coils. As these heat from the electric current running through them, heat is given off.

As the heat rises, it will heat the surrounding area. At this point, the fans turn on and push the heated air through the ducts and out the vents into the home. The resulting warm air raises the temperature in the rooms it vents to.

Fuel Sources

The central electric forced air unit requires electricity to run. The electricity powers the fan motors, heats the heating elements, and runs the system. Central forced air systems need to be connected to a dedicated 220v power supply. Most are hardwired to their own circuit in the control panel with a fused breaker between the panel and the machine.

Why It’s Efficient

Central forced air systems are efficient because they don’t waste much of the electricity used to warm the air. All of the heat produced from the coils is pushed through the system and warms the rooms.

There is about a 10% loss due to the electricity needed to run the motors, fans, and any heat loss through the ducting on the way to the rooms.


Installation of the single-stage system requires a base or slab to mount the box on. Most installations are mounted in a basement directly on the concrete or a concrete slab. Once it is mounted and stable, the ducting is connected to the home’s ducts and the output at the top of the unit.

The wiring is relatively simple to connect the motor and fan, but may require an electrician or HVAC technician to connect to the 220v power supply. Once the unit is powered up and ducted, it can be turned on and used.

Check “Best Heaters for Basement” to learn more options if you are planning to install one in your basement.

Average Annual Operating Cost

Because the system uses electricity to heat and run, the total operational cost will use the kilowatt cost and hours of use formula to determine how much the system costs.

On average, the kilowatt hour cost is 13 cents, and if you run the heater for 8 hours a day over the colder months, you can figure the average price. 13 cents per kilowatt hour at 8 hours a day is an average cost of $1.04 per day or about $100 per season.

What We Like
  • 10-year parts, Lifetime Operation warranty
  • Possible DIY installation
  • Near zero heat loss
  • High total efficiency
  • Works with new installs or upgrades
What We Don’t Like
  • Requires dedicated circuit
  • Must be permanently mounted

2. Rinnai M060SN Q-Series

Most Efficient Gas Heating System
Heater Type Natural Gas Condensing Boiler
Efficiency Rating AFUE 95%
Coverage Area 3500 Sq. Ft.
BTU Rating 60000
Safety Features Thermal overload protection
How It Works

Gas boilers work to heat the air and your water. The new compact models are wall mounted and replace your furnace and water heater, making them perform double duty while being more efficient than previous models combined.

The gas, either propane or natural gas, is ignited, heating the water running through the tank. This water is pumped through your home’s hot water supply while also being used to heat the ambient air around the tubes.

The warm air is pumped through the home into the ducting system, which heats the air in the rooms it vents to.

Fuel Sources

Most gas boilers are single or dual fuel capable, using either propane or natural gas. If the home has a natural gas line, it is more efficient and economical to use the natural gas conversion valves.

If you do not, it may be cheaper to use the propane conversion valves and run the system on propane. This may have external costs, though, such as purchasing, installing, and maintaining a 100+ pound propane tank.

Why It’s Efficient

Natural gas is among the most efficient, clean-burning, and high heat output fuel sources available. Propane, as a heating gas, is also highly efficient. Because the system also uses heated water, there is a lower efficiency because the water doesn’t recirculate.

However, this dual purpose use also heats your water, raising the efficiency value over the long run.


Installation of a boiler is generally in need of a licensed plumber, HVAC technician, or contractor. Because there is the need to reroute water lines, add and remove shut-off valves and other criteria, a DIY install is near impossible from a coding and legal aspect.

In almost every region of the United States, permits and licenses are required to make such installations. While the installation isn’t technically challenging, the requirements and permits needed make the installation a professional option only.

Average Annual Operating Cost

Natural gas and propane costs are measured in BTUs, and the electrical side of the system uses kilowatt-hours. To calculate the operating costs, you will need several numbers. The easiest to calculate is the running cost of the electricity.

With the average cost of the kWh at $0.13 and a 155-watt draw, the electrical cost to tun the system 5 hours a day for the year would cost you about $279 per year (155 watts divided by 1000 = 0.155 kilowatts, multiplied by 0.13 cents per kilowatt hour at 5 hours per day, every day for a year).

You also need to account for the cost of the natural gas or propane. These numbers don’t have national averages because of too many variables, including the storage tank’s size or supply line rate of delivery.

In most cases, you can account for natural gas being about $45 per month and propane costing $2.25 per gallon; you can calculate your costs based on your local fees.

What We Like
  • 1-year labor, 2-years parts, 12-years heat exchanger warranty
  • Space saving design
  • AFUE 95% rating
  • Retrofit install available
  • Heats water and air
What We Don’t Like
  • Professional installation required
  • May cost more for initial set up than other types on this list

3. Goodman 2 Ton GSZ140241

Most Efficient Heating System For Cold Climates
Heater Type Heat Pump
Efficiency Rating 12.5 EER
Coverage Area 2500 Sq. Ft.
BTU Rating 24000
Safety Features Thermal overheat protection
How It Works

Heat pumps are bi-directional systems that cool in the summer and heat in the winter. Many units are stand-alone heaters, but it may only function well enough to be a supplemental heat source in much colder areas.

Heat pumps work by changing the direction of the air handler, and in essence, the system runs backwards. In the summer the system takes the hot air from inside the home using refrigerant lines just as any central air conditioner would.

In the winter, the system works the same way, only in reverse. The system cools the air from inside the home while pushing it outside. The trade-off is that the warmer air is then replaced inside the house, raising the temperature.

Fuel Sources

Heat pumps use refrigerant, which will mostly be R-410a after 2020 and moving forward. The compressors, fans, and motors run on 208/230v electrical supply.

Unlike other heater fuels, heat pumps cannot run on other fuel sources. While you may find models that run on different refrigerants, you cannot substitute LP gases for the refrigerant.

Why It’s Efficient

Heat pumps are highly efficient because they only use electricity for power and not heat production. The fans running off of the electricity distribute the heat through the home and don’t take any more energy than they are already using.

However, depending on how often you run the system and how much you are charged for kilowatt-hours of electricity will make your actual efficiency slightly different from other regions, but not by so much it should sway your purchase decision.


With a multi-directional flow, you can install the air handler vertical or horizontal. While there are DIY install steps, most heat pumps should be installed by a professional. In the case of

Goodman heat pump, if the install is not performed by a licensed professional, the 10-year warranty is void.

Install consists of the internal vents, air handler, and the external condenser and fan. Concrete slabs are needed for the condenser unit and ducting for the airflow throughout the home. You may also need bracers for the air handler, depending on how it is mounted.

Average Annual Operating Cost

Heat pumps only rely on electricity (refrigerant only costs if there is a leak), and this will vary from region to region and even city to city. With national averages for kilowatt-hours of electricity, you can expect to pay about $100 – $120 per season for the unit’s operation.

However, because it is also an air cooler, you won’t have central AC costs to accumulate over the summer, and the heat pump is more efficient than most other air conditioner options.

What We Like
  • 10-year parts, Lifetime Operation warranty
  • Highly efficient system
  • Improved air quality
  • Extremely quiet operation
  • Lower maintenance than most other systems
What We Don’t Like
  • DIY install voids warranty
  • May be an expensive initial install

Ductless Heating System

4. MRCOOL 12K DIY-12-HP-115B25

Most Energy Efficient Heating And Air Conditioning Systems
Heater Type Ductless Mini Split
Efficiency Rating 22 SEER
Coverage Area 500 Sq. Ft.
BTU Rating 12000, 18000, 24000, 36000 options (12k per air handler)
Safety Features Leakage protection, low refrigerant alerts, Auto-adjusting thermostat,
How It Works

A ductless heating system, also called a ductless mini split, is still a heat pump. However, instead of running hot air through ducting to all the rooms, the heat pump runs refrigerant through two return lines (reverse flow) to a single air handler unit mounted on a wall.

You can have one of these air handlers in each room or only one in the entire house. Regardless of how many air handlers you have, you still only need one heat pump installed on the outside (as long as the heat pump is big enough to handle each air handler).

The system works the same was as a ducted heat pump, moving cold air from inside to the outside during winter and reverse in the summer. The only difference is that the air handler and evaporator are in a single small unit in the room instead of in the attic or basement.

Fuel Sources

Aside from the refrigerant (usually R-410a), the only thing needed to run these systems is electricity. The refrigerant is also in a closed system, meaning it is maintenance-free unless there is a leak.

Why It’s Efficient

Ductless mini split systems are among the most efficient systems on the market. The primary reason for this efficiency is that there is virtually zero heat loss. Without ducts, air travel or cooling off times, all the heat generated is put directly into the room you want heated.

Because of this method of heating and cooling, you can expect to find SEER ratings well over 20, and in some cases as high as 30. This is double and sometimes even triple the SEER rating capabilities of other system types.


Installation for a ductless system can be a DIY install. However, it is still considered difficult, and a professional should be considered. Not only do you need to wire the system to your 220v circuit, but you also need to drill holes through your home, from the inside to the outside walls.

Precision measurements are needed since the refrigerant lines are precharged and come in specific lengths. The external heat pump and fan assembly also needs proper mounting on a flat, level surface, usually a concrete pad.

Spacing is the most important aspect as there needs to be ample room on all sides of the heat pump for proper operation. On the inside, the air handler needs to be mounted levelly, at specific heights or distances from the ceiling (based on model and type). Everything needs to be wired together, including the sensors, thermostats, and the two halves of the unit themselves.

Average Annual Operating Cost

The average costs for a mini split system will be measured in the same way as a ducted heat pump. Because you use the system year-round, you will need the kWh, square footage, cost per kWh, and BTU ratings.

With the MRCOOL mini split system, you will use 12,000 BTU intervals, based on how many air handlers you have. Each unit is 12,000 BTUs, so if you have 2, your measurements will reflect 24,000 BTUs, and so on.

The low draw and high efficiency mean the systems run fewer hours, and seasonal heating is generally shorter. For this reason, the average cost is between half and 1/3 the price of a standard heat pump system or between $60 – $100 per year.

What We Like
  • 5-years parts, 7-year compressor warranty
  • Mobile app and remote control operation
  • Sleep mode saves even more energy
  • Highest energy efficiency over all other options
  • Low maintenance
What We Don’t Like
  • May not be as effective in extreme temperatures
  • Difficult install process

Radiant Heating System


Most Efficient Radiant Heater
Heater Type Under-floor Radiant Heat
Efficiency Rating Varies based on install location and floor type
Coverage Area 100 Sq. Ft.
BTU Rating 4080
Safety Features GFCI wiring and thermostat
How It Works

Electric radiant heat is made possible by sending an electric current through wires. As the wires become energized, they give off heat. This heat is then absorbed by the flooring that lays on top of the wiring, and the air warms over time as the heat continues to rise.

Most radiant floor heating is near-instant as far as making the floor warm and cozy to walk on, but can take some time (if ever) to raise the ambient temperature in the room. However, when used properly, they can maintain a room’s temperature and help prevent heat loss through the floor.

Fuel Sources

Radiant floor heating only uses electricity run through conductive wiring. It doesn’t use bulbs, ceramic plates, or other heating elements. Because of this fact, there isn’t a fuel supply needed other than an electrical supply.

Why It’s Efficient

While it is near impossible to pinpoint an energy efficiency rating, we can say that radiant heating is 100% efficient in that it uses 100% of the energy supplied to create heat. That heat is then transferred to the flooring on top.

However, because different flooring types conduct and hold warmth at different rates, there isn’t an average or a basis to start from. You can rest assured, though, that once properly installed, every time you turn it on, the system is using all of the electricity it draws to heat the space.


Installation of a radiant floor heating system should be done by professionals. However, for the knowledgeable or adventurous of you out there, it can be a DIY install as well. You will need to plan the coverage area and make precise measurements.

After measurements and a mock placement have been made, you will need to remove the old flooring and prep the area. Embedding is the best option and can be done using several different types of cement or cement-like embedding materials.

Once the system has been laid, the flooring can be put back on top (or installed in the first place if using new flooring). You also need to attach the sensor cables and run them to the thermostat that must also be installed and wired.

Average Annual Operating Cost

Operational costs will vary significantly from region to region and even home to home. Radiant floor heating is generally designed for smaller area applications (such as a bathroom or kitchen) and may be used for a few minutes a day or all day in some cases. In these cases we can use a bathroom heater or a model that is generally made for small spaces.

However, if you know the square footage of the area you want to use the radiant heating in, you can use your own best guesses to determine how much it will cost. The system has a 1200 watt draw per 100 square feet, or 1.2 kW. Using this information, you can use the following simple formula:

(1.2kW x hours used per day) x 30 = kWh used per month. If you take this number and multiply it by the cost of kWh in your area, you will have your monthly average cost for the system.

What We Like
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Timers allow the floors to heat before you wake up
  • Can be installed in wet areas
  • 100% efficiency
What We Don’t Like
  • Must use included thermostat
  • Not all floor types are radiant heat capable

Baseboard Heating System

6. Fahrenheat PLF

Best Heating System For Small House
Heater Type Hydronic baseboard
Efficiency Rating AFUE 93%
Coverage Area 150 – 225 Sq. Ft.
BTU Rating 3400
Safety Features Cool to touch exterior, overheating protection, contaminate auto-shutoff
How It Works

Baseboard heating is used in many homes, schools, and offices for its ease of installation, efficiency, and control. Electric baseboard heat comes in two basic types, water-fed or element heating. Like the Fahrenheat PLF system, water-fed or hydronic heaters can get tied into the home’s hot water supply lines or operate in a stand-alone fashion.

The stand-alone systems use a water-based fluid around a central electrical coil that heats the liquid when the unit is turned on. This heat is then emitted from the unit, either by convection or fan. The hot air coming from the unit raises the temperature in smaller rooms and spaces with neat 100% efficiency. Do check more heaters made perfectly for small rooms in another review we made.

Fuel Sources

For most hydronic models, the fuel supply is only electricity. Most units will need to be hardwired to a 240v circuit, though there are 110/115v options available. You may need to run a water line from your water heater if it isn’t a stand-alone style, but no other fuel is necessary for operation.

Why It’s Efficient

Electric hydronic baseboard heating is quite efficient. With nearly 100% of the electricity used going to produce heat for the room, they are quiet, sturdy, and heat evenly with less cold spots than some other heating options.

Between 5 and 10% energy loss is expected based on build materials and heat source. Stand-alone models have less heat loss because they use convection to emit the heat from the coil or water tube. This means that virtually all heat created by the electricity makes its way into the room.


Because the Fahrenheat PLF system is 220v, it is highly recommended that you have the units professionally installed. If you are installing in series (multiple units running off the same thermostat in a single room), you will need to understand power draw ratings, amperes, spacing, and adding wires to your walls.

The installation itself isn’t very difficult, though, and once wired, it only takes a few mounting screws and wall anchors to put the unit in place.

Average Annual Operating Cost

The average heating cost for these units is relatively easy to figure out. Each heater has a power draw of 1000 watts or 1kW. You can figure out, using the national averages, that using a single heater every day over the winter months for 5 hours will result in a cost of about $58.

If you are using more than one heater, either throughout the home or in a single room, you can just multiply the number of units you are running times the 58 dollars to get your annual total.

What We Like
  • All-inclusive system doesn’t need water line connections
  • Can install in series for multiple heaters per room
  • Even steady heat distribution
  • Will shut off automatically if anything falls into the vent opening
What We Don’t Like
  • 1-year warranty
  • Must be wired to 208/230/240v circuit

Direct Heating System (Space Heater)

7. Dr Infrared

Most Efficient Space Heater
Heater Type Infrared space heater
Efficiency Rating AFUE 97%
Coverage Area 1000 Sq. Ft.
BTU Rating 5200
Safety Features Cool-touch exterior, tip-over shut off, thermal overheat protection
How It Works

Direct heat is a term used to describe any heating type that adds warmth to objects in the room instead of the room’s air. This is how the sun works. The heat from the heater, sun, or infrared device directly affects the objects it comes into contact with, resulting in a warmer space overall.

The Dr Infrared space heater uses radiant infrared heating to add warmth by direct heat. This allows for more efficiency, cool to the touch heater casing, and better energy use.

Fuel Sources

The only fuel needed for an infrared space heater is electricity. However, convection and radiant space heaters use various heating fuels, including water, propane, natural gas, and kerosene.  Depending on the type you prefer, you can find sizes and fuel capacities of a wide and varying range.

Why It’s Efficient

Direct heat is efficient because it doesn’t rely on airflow to heat a room. While fans are used to help push the air around and make the heating more effective, they aren’t needed to raise the temperature like indirect heating models do.

Radiant heat like infrared, ultraviolet, and halogen use nearly 100% of the electricity to produce heat. Of the heat produced, over 98% is transmitted to the room and the objects in it.


Space heaters don’t need to be installed, and while there are 220/240v options, most will use a standard 110/115v outlet for their power source. You should never use a power strip or extension cord, though, as space heaters have a high draw and can melt or burn these extra pieces.

Most portable models will come with wheels, legs, or stands or can be placed directly on the counter or floor. Other models will also come with brackets so you can mount them to the wall as an option.

Average Annual Operating Cost

The average cost will depend on the model, brand, and type of direct heating unit you buy. Each model is different, and it is near impossible to give a range of average prices for all options on the market.

The Dr Infrared model, though, has a 1500 watt draw (1.5kW), and if used for an average of 4 hours per day, for the coldest winter months as supplemental heat, the average cost (using $0.13 per kWh) is $70.20.

What We Like
  • 3-year warranty
  • No installation needed
  • Works out of the box
  • Can be used anywhere there is an electrical supply
What We Don’t Like
  • Cantrip breakers are not on a circuit alone
  • May not perform well at elevations over 7000 feet

Types of Heating Systems Explained

When buying a new heating system, you are not without choices. There are many different types of heaters available, and each one has advantages and disadvantages. In this section, we will take a closer look at the various heater system types.

Furnace/Forced Air

Furnaces use air to move the heat. When a fan is used to draw the heat out and move it throughout the room or home, it is called a forced air system. Both types are relatively efficient, but furnaces lose about 20% of the energy they intake compared to only 10% of loss from a forced air unit.


Boilers work similar to furnaces, except instead of using air to move the heat, a boiler uses water. As the hot water steams the air passing over the coils, the air is heated and moved through the home. Boilers aren’t common in single family homes but are still found installed in apartment complexes and other similar multi-family dwellings.

Check our guide on “Oil Boilers for Home Heating” to get a more in-depth understanding on this type of heating solution.

Heat Pump

Heat pumps are a basic cooling and heating system. The system works by moving colder air from where it is to where it isn’t. If the home is colder than the air outside, the heat pump will move air from outside into the home to heat it. If the home is warmer, the heat pump reverses and moves the warmer air outside.

Solar Heating

Solar heaters work by using the sun or other ultraviolet radiation to warm air or water running through pipes or hoses. As the system heats up, the warmth from the water is moved to the air passing over the piping and moves through the home, raising the temperature.

As a highly efficient heating system, there are significant downsides, such as high initial and set up costs, as well as lower efficiency during cloudy and rainy days. They also require large amounts of space to install.

Electric Heating

Electric heating is one of the most common heating types installed in homes. They work as a stand-alone system or as a part of a central heating and air conditioner set up. As technology advances, electrical systems get more efficient. Currently, you can still get low-efficiency systems, which makes the SEER (and similar) rating more important.

Radiant Heating

Radiant heating is a method of heating a coil, element or bulb, and as this item heats, the heat is absorbed by the floor, objects in the room, and the air, making the space warmer. Whole-home units can run under the floor while room units mount to the walls, ceilings or sit on the floor as portable units.

Hydronic System

Hydronic heating is among the more rare types of heating but is one of the most energy efficient systems out there. Using gas boilers, water is heated in a tank. This hot water is then pumped through pipes to radiators, floor coils, even patios, walkways, or spas.

A good list of these outdoor heaters can be found in “Best Outdoor Electric Heaters” review we curated specifically for this..

The radiators’ heat is emitted into the room where the ambient temperature rises and the water cools, cycling through to repeat the process. While it is highly efficient, it is also generally expensive to set up and install.

Electric Resistance Heating

Electrical resistance heating is more of a catch-all than a stand alone heating type. Technically any device that uses an element, coil, or bulb to convert electricity to heat is electrical resistance heating.

The trade-off is that 100% of the electricity used is used for heat, making them highly efficient. However, they use a lot of wattages and can significantly raise your energy bills.

Measuring a Heating System’s Efficiency

To measure your home’s heating system’s efficiency, you need to do some basic math starting with the square footage of your home. If you don’t know the square footage, you can figure it out by multiplying the length and width of your home.

Once you know the square footage, you can determine the size of heating capacity your system needs to deliver. Most heaters will measure energy in either wattage or BTUs.

The BTU output divided by the energy consumption will give you the energy efficiency rating, or EER. If you only use the system during specific months of the year, the BTU usage is a smaller sample and gives you the seasonal energy efficiency rating, or SEER.

There are other ratings as well, and those designed specifically for heaters. One of which is the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. The HSPF is measured over one season and uses the total consumption (BTUs, wattage, etc.) divided by the kilowatt-hours used over that time period.

Whatever method you use to determine your home’s efficiency, EER, SEER, HSPF, COP, AFUE, the results will tell you the same story. Some heating options are naturally more efficient than others. Still, even these systems can be made more or less efficient with the factors in your home such as installation levels, drafts, ceiling height (cubic feet), and even the amount of furniture and people in the space.

Determining the Right Size Home Heating System

Once you know the heating system’s efficiency, you can make a better purchasing decision. Before you make that purchase, though, you need to find the right-sized heating system. We have already explained how to find your home’s square foot, but there are other factors.

The size and number of windows, for example, can lower the efficiency, meaning you need to purchase a larger system. This is also true for homes with higher ceilings (over 9 feet) and those with a lot of furniture, clothes in the closets, and people living in the home.

The more items and people in the home, the harder it is for air to circulate. You also need to account for insulation levels. This includes insulation in the attic, walls, and even under the home. The lower the insulation levels, the more heat loss the house will experience.

One of the best ways to find the BTU range your home needs to consider the average insulation levels (low, moderate, or high) and take into account the other factors listed above. If the insulation is low, you can double the BTU rating determined by square footage. If the insulation is medium or high, you can add half the BTU level to the equation.

The standard equation then is to determine the minimum BTU rating for the home size and then multiply that number by either 1.5 or 2 (from the other considerations) to get a higher BTU rating. This becomes your BTU rating range.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Is it more expensive to heat or cool your house?

In almost all cases, it is more expensive to heat your home than cool it. With central air systems, for example, the cooling side uses fewer kilowatt hours to lower the temperature than the heating side uses to raise the temperature. This isn’t always the case, though. A split system that uses electricity for cooling and natural gas for heating will use far less energy and be more efficient in heating compared to cooling.

Which home heating fuel is the best in terms of efficiency?

The most efficient home heating fuel is natural gas. Natural gas is among the cheapest fuels and most readily available. The cost, coupled with the fact that natural gas is piped directly to the home, makes the fuel among the most efficient on the market.

What is the most economical electric heating?

When it comes to electrical heating, the most economical form is electric baseboard heating. These simple systems use electricity to heat an element, which then moves the heat through the room through convection.

Is it cheaper to leave central heating on low all the time?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not more economical to run the heater at a low temperature continuously. It is cheaper to run the heater at a reasonable temperature only when you need it.

Should you turn off radiators in unused rooms?

It is wise to turn off radiators in rooms that aren’t being used. This will save on electricity and make the system more efficient. You should also close doors to those unused rooms to conserve heat in the occupied rooms and lower the chance of heat loss.

What is the most economical temperature for central heating?

According to’s website and research, the most economical temperature setting is 68 degrees while you are awake and even lower when you are asleep or out of the house. These settings can increase efficiency and energy savings by up to 10%.


When building or remodeling your home, heating and cooling are near the top of the priority list. You want to ensure you have an efficient and cost-effective solution. Finding the most efficient heating systems can be difficult. There are a lot of factors to consider.

This article gave you the information to help determine which type of heating system you needed. It showed you the best heating systems in each of those styles, such as the Goodman GMSS920803BN, one the most efficient and highest rated central heating systems on the market.

Last Updated on February 12, 2022

Josh M