Central heating refers to a system of ductwork, vents, and a furnace that allows heat to be circulated throughout a building’s entire interior at once. The heat is typically generated from one location and distributed through the home or building. Despite the name, the location of heat generation does not necessarily have to be in a central location or room, but can be found anywhere within the structure.
In areas that become hot in the summer and require air conditioning, it is generally routed at the same time as central heating. They are often combined in one unit and use the same ducts and vents to distribute air to each room. The units used to create and pump hot or cold air can be powered by gas or electricity, although blowers generally require electricity to get heat into every room.
Most times, central heating has to be installed by a professional installer. The ductwork required is most easily installed in a new home, but can be added in older ones. Once the system is in place, there is generally not much maintenance needed by the home or business owner. There are often filters that should be changed regularly, primarily if a humidifier is included in the unit. Otherwise, most issues of maintenance and repair should be handled by a professional.
Large buildings as well as small homes can be equipped with central heating. For large structures, more than one heating unit may be needed to produce the necessary heat. Separate space heaters can also be used in combination with central heating to help save energy and money.
In most cases, central heating systems are controlled by a thermostat located at or near the center of the home or building. This device can be set to a specific temperature and the unit will run until that number is reached. The colder it is outside, the longer it may take for the air inside of a structure to reach a high enough temperature. Homeowners are encouraged to keep thermostats as low as comfortably possible to reduce energy consumption and save money.
Central heating can also run by running hot water through piping systems or by forcing hot air through pipes. This can be done to replace or supplement more traditional ductwork units. In extremely cold climates, a combination of more than one system may be used. People in these areas may also be more likely to use fossil-fuel based systems than those in milder climates because they are most cost efficient.