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Hydronic Heating Vs Gas Forced Air Heating

One of the biggest questions for homeowners considering hydronic heating systems is how they compare to traditional gas forced air heat. Below you will find a list of the important factors to consider when deciding on a heating system, as well as the where each system excels and lacks.


Providing consistent comfort by way of reliable heating and warmth is the single most important task for your radiant or forced air system.

  • Forced Air - A benefit to forced air is that it has the ability to quickly raise temperatures, whereas hydronic heating can be slow with temperature changes due to the use of thermal mass.
  • Hydronic - On most other comfort issues, radiant heat is far superior. Examples of this include the fact that radiant heating heats the entire room evenly, while keeping tile floor warm to walk upon, and not drying out the air. In addition, forced air can be loud when the heat turns on and off, while hydronic heat works silently in the background.


Health concerns for those who are highly allergic or suffer asthma problems should be considered when picking your heat source.

  • Forced Air – The traditional system has been around for a long time, and modern additions to the system allow for air purifiers and humidifiers, as well as better filters for microscopic organisms pushed through the air.
  • Hydronic - There is no question that hydronic heating systems provide a healthier environment for your family and can be a boon to family members with strong allergies or asthma. The radiant heat does not require gusts of forced air to spread heat, which means it avoids kicking up dust and allergens within the home and spreading them throughout the rest of the house. In addition, the air ducts used by traditional systems can be home to for other germs and allergens as lint and dust builds up in the system. Filters, specialized cleaning systems, and professional duct cleaners can help improve upon this issue, but radiate heat does not cause any of these problems.


Energy efficiency is a concern for anyone who is spending their money on high energy bills each month. Let’s see where each type of heating system stacks up.

  • Forced Air – Since this method of heating has been around so long, there are many furnaces to choose from in all levels of efficiency, as well as best construction practices to make the most of the heat. Unfortunately, air ducts in conventional forced air systems are notoriously hard to seal completely. This means that a good deal of heat is lost before it reaches its destination point. These traditional ducts should always be placed within the conditioned part of the home, otherwise the heat loss can be even more severe if they are run through areas like unconditioned attic space.
  • Hydronic – Radiant heating has no air ducts, but instead a closed loop system that creates very little heat loss while moving the heated water to its destination. In addition, hydronic heat requires very little electricity to run. This combined with its efficiency is why they have become popular for homes built off traditional power grids and in areas that have high electric fees.


The price to install and run your heating system is important to everyone who must balance their budget with quality construction.

  • Forced Air – This is one area where forced air heating has the upper hand because the initial installation of heating equipment, ducts, vents, and returns will always be lower than radiant heat. On the other hand, it is difficult to make real apples to apples comparisons because the benefits supplied by a standard hydronic system would be upgrades and extra costs with forced air. Examples are air purifiers, humidifiers, and heat exchangers. These are not required with hydronic heat and would help to get the pricing closer together.
  • Hydronic – Without a doubt whole house radiant heating has a much higher upfront cost than forced air heat. Over the long run, the energy bill savings from the more efficient hydronic heating will pay back for that added expense and more. There are also several government incentives to use highly energy efficient systems throughout the home, which can help offset the initial cost of the equipment. Overall, anyone planning on living several years in the home will save with the installation of an energy efficient residential hydronic heating system.

There are many pros and cons that come with both types of residential heating, but hydronic radiant systems have many benefits that are superior to traditional forced air heat.