There are lots of ways people try to stay warm during the frigid winter months, but most of them depend on a dedicated home heating system. Bundling up, draping yourself in blankets, cuddling, and vigorous exercise can all help to keep you warm for a little while, but when it is 12 degrees out, these techniques may not cut it.
Central Heating units produce heat at a specific location, then distributed warm air through the home using air ducts, heat exchanging coils, or ventilation systems. Most homes in North America make use of furnaces attached to central heating systems. Most furnaces create flames by mixing gas or oil with air. These flames are used to heat a metal heat exchanger which then transfers the heat to air inside central heating unit. Fans, or ‘air handlers’ then force the heated air through ductwork and distribute it evenly throughout the home.
Other central heating systems use boilers, which use water for heat exchange, or heat pumps, which gather heating using an electrical system, to produce warmth and distribute it throughout the home.
Direct heaters are an alternative to central heating systems. Gas-fired and electrical space heaters are two common direct heaters. So are fire places! Direct heating is usually used to heat a single room or one specific location rather than an entire home. Because of this, depending on the specific heating needs of the home, direct heaters can be more or less efficient than central heating systems. If heat is only really needed in one room, than why not use a direct heater, which consumes much less energy than a central heater. However, if you need warmth throughout an entire home, using multiple direct heating units would be very inefficient indeed.