Forced air or hot water heat ?

Old 09-11-19, 03:59 PM
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Forced air or hot water heat ?

As a part of our post fire, house reconstruction we are going to take advantage of the fact that the house is gutted to the studs. We want to update heating/cooling. Unfortunately, at our expense since the house mechanicals were unaffected by the fire.

We live in the Northeast. We have a 35 year old furnace with forced hot water baseboard heat. I have no idea how efficient the furnace is. While we are satisfied with the furnace performance we think now is the time to update or upgrade hoping to save on future oil bills.

I'm looking for recommendations or suggestions. Do we switch to forced air and maybe add AC or stay with hot water baseboard? Does AC add a large fuel cost? A large furnace cost? We currently use window AC in the MBR only and are usually comfortable with that. What size furnace/tank for a 2400 s/f home. Forced air would mean finding a spot for a chase to get the ducting upstairs and the extra cost of the ducting. Water means we could use the same 35 y/o baseboard heaters and save a few bucks. Or are there newer more efficient baseboard heaters? We have a separate hot water heater and will probably stay with that. Last - is it easier to zone water? Right now we have 3 zones and that works well allowing us to isolate unused bedrooms in the winter.
Old 09-11-19, 06:37 PM
Join Date: Jan 2019
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You need to contact professionals in your area. Have them make recommendations and then sort them.

To size air conditioning correctly you need a Manual J calculation. Might even be REQUIRED in your location it is in Southern Arizona for all new work.
To size duct work you must have a Manual D calculation.
After the load is known then the duct can be calculated, and then you will know if you want to surrender the space for the duct.
Changing the furnace sound like a really good idea. Have you checked with your serving utilities for rebates or deals on new equipment?
Old 09-11-19, 09:16 PM
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The house is gutted...... does that include all the baseboard and piping ?
If that's still in place..... stay with it. Replace the boiler.

Central air and heat is nice but there is a major cost involved in ductwork plus the fact that it takes up a lot of interior space. If the one window A/C served your needs..... consider a mini split for the bedroom areas.
Old 09-12-19, 05:20 AM
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To just answer your question, I would strongly recommend forced hot air. You then have the option if not now, then later to add A/C. Don't know your financial situation or your "age" condition. But my wife and I, in our senior years decided not to deny ourselves basic comfort. When we updated our 35 year old furnace we got the A/C also. My daughter down the street from us has hot water heat. It's supposedly healthier but they suffer in the summer and must use noisy window A/C or several of the new portable A/C units. And it's never quite cool and comfortable as whole house A/C.

Yes A/C will cost a bit more but you control the temp. You don't need it freezing but just below the outside air temp can make a big difference in overall comfort. As far as adding moisture in winter, be sure to add a humidifier. That will add all the moisture you'll need.

Also. I might be wrong, but I think future repair on a hot air systems is cheaper than boiler repairs. And they have less controls to go bad.

My daughter in PA., after her demo of the first floor was able to install geothermal heating. Do you have that possible option?
Old 09-12-19, 07:59 AM
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Keep the hot water baseboard, it's a much more comfortable heat. Consider updating the boiler to save some $$$ in fuel and possible go with an indirect hot water source as well.

With the house gutted, it would make sense to throw an air handler in the attic and add A/C duct work. That would yield you the best combo of heat and air.

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