Issue # 4: Heating Systems
ISSN 1703-5597
 December 11, 2002

Contents: Issue # 4: Heating Systems

  1. The Basics: Terminology, Comfort & Thermostats
  2. Heating System Sizing & Operating Costs
  3. Forced Air Heating Systems
  4. Electric Heating Systems
  5. Radiant Heating Systems
  6. Hot Water (Hydronic) Heating Systems
  7. Heat Pumps & Geothermal Systems
  8. Stoves & Fireplaces
  9. Other Info Sources

1. The Basics: Terminology, Comfort & Thermostats

Glossary Of Terms
The heating industry has its own weird words and jargon. You should be able to find the meanings to any of them in this big easy to use glossary from Trane

Thermal Comfort: What Causes Comfort & Discomfort?
The main purpose of a heating system is to make people comfortable. Easier said than done. Here is a good overview of the various factors affecting comfort. It will help explain why you can't always satisfy everybody. More good pictures!!

Thermostats: How They Work & Other Info Sources
Some form of thermostat controls every heating system. This site explains how one of the most common units works. For links to other sources of thermostat information click "Search Google" near the bottom of the Table of Contents.

2. Heating System Sizing & Operating Costs

Heating Calculation
A heat loss calculation is required to properly design heating equipment. If not properly sized the systems will cost more to operate and have problems maintaining good comfort levels. This quick online form calculates approximate heating requirements for one room, in a climate similar to Coastal BC.

Manual J Form
A much more detailed calculation should be completed to properly size a full system. You may want to ask your heating contractor to provide you with one. This Manual J Form shows types of detailed information that are required.

Comparing Annual Heating Costs With Different Fuels
Do you want to compare the operating costs of different systems? This site from Natural Resources Canada has all the info you need, for both new and existing homes.

3. Forced Air Heating Systems

Home Tips
For beginners, this site provides a simple overview and diagram of a basic forced air heating system in a small home.

Mid- and High-Efficiency Furnaces and Boilers
This Canadian site has more detailed information and drawings of mid and high efficiency furnaces.

Combination Space and Water Heaters
For smaller loads, Combo heaters provide space and water heating using the same heat source. This Advanced Buildings site provides a good overview and list of manufacturers.

Trade Association
TECA, the Thermal Environmental Comfort Association, is a BC trade association serving the residential heating industry. They have developed design and installation standards called Quality First Forced Air Heating Guidelines and deliver training courses around the province.

4. Electric Heating Systems

Heating With Electricity
This site gives a brief overview of the different types of electric heating systems, and some energy saving tips. Click on the first PDF link to view drawings of different systems.

Electrical Systems And Products
If you want information on electrical systems and products contact the BC Electrical Association. They offer information services and promote the electrical industry in BC.

5. Radiant Heating Systems

There are a number of different ways radiant floor heating systems can be installed. This excellent site of the Radiant Panel Association explains each, with pictures.

Also from the RPA, here is a good overview of electric radiant heating methods, as well as a list of suppliers.

Tech Info
Have questions about radiant heating and hardwood floors, oxygen in the tubing, leaks, etc? Again the RPA has good resources to answer these and other questions

6. Hot Water (Hydronic) Heating Systems

Burnham Glossary
Here is a basic glossary of terms from Burnham boilers.

Heating Q & A
Dan Holohan is considered a leading industry expert in hot water and steam heating. Take a look at this Heating Q & A section and you'll see why. Some nice simple drawings!!

Trade Association
The Residential Hot Water Heating Association of BC, now TECA is our local hydronic heating trade association. They developed design and installation guidelines that are used in training courses around the province.

7. Heat Pumps & Geothermal Systems

Heat Pump Technology
Heat pump technology and different systems are described at this site of the International Energy Agency.

Geothermal Heat Pumps
Geothermal, or ground source heat pumps are explained at this site of the Geothermal Heat& Pump Consortium.

8. Stoves & Fireplaces

Stove And Fireplace Glossary
Here is a glossary of terms used in the stove and fireplace industry. This Hearth Patio & Barbeque Association site also has as a brief description of the various products and tips.

Trade Association
The Hearth Patio & Barbeque Association of BC is the local trade association representing this industry. They have an annual trade show and offer several training courses.

9. Other Info Sources

Heating And Cooling
Online information booklets on various heating & cooling systems are viewable for free at this Canadian site of the Office of Energy Efficiency. Click on the "HTML" link.

Oikos Heating Book
Heating Systems For Your New Home is a great book written by respected local publisher Richard Kadulski. You can take a look at the Table of Contents and order the book at this site.
Or you can order it direct from Richard for $19.95. Call him at 604-689-1841, or e-mail him at

HVAC-Talk Forum
Want to ask questions or review discussions on HVAC topics? Try this discussion board at HVAC-Talk

Dittie For Today: Ever Meet One Of These?
Sometimes when you look in his eyes you get the feeling that someone else is driving.

  Copyright 2002               Ken Farrish               All Rights Reserved