Central Heating a Home

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), heating and cooling consists of 56% of the energy used in a typical U.S. home, which is the largest energy expenditure in most homes. Many often wonder, “What is better zone heating or central heating?” Choosing the right heating system for you ultimately depends on a few key factors.

What is Central Heating?

Central heating is a heating/cooling system that circulates throughout the entire interior of a home through air ducts that typically run to each room. Very few homes in this day and age are built without central heating. It’s convenient because you can heat an entire home at the touch of a button.

Most central heaters operate using a furnace or boiler. Air ducts are run throughout the home to channel hot (or cold air in the case of A/C) air to different parts of the home. Each of these outlets feed off of the same source. One way to focus air to a particular area is to close the vent duct in unoccupied rooms, which will increase the flow of warm air to occupied spaces.

What is Zone Heating?

Zone heating is a heating system that that is designed to allow different temperatures to be maintained in two or more parts of a building. Zone heating, also known as space heating or selective heating, can be a viable option for frugal homeowners because it allows you to isolate the warm or cold air solely to occupied areas of the house, which increases efficiency by concentrating the temperature control where you need it. Certain thermostats can be programmed to only send air to specific areas of the home. Zone heaters are usually self-contained units that connect to a localized heating source via wall plug or a gas cap. Electric fireplaces and gel fireplaces are popular heating alternatives that reduce wasted energy. Why heat the living room, kitchen, and game room when you’re lying in bed?

Zone Heating vs. Central Heating

Zone heating and central heating are often compared in terms of efficiency. Zone heating is the more cost-effective system as it allows you to heat a particular area of the home instantly. On the contrary, central heating takes longer to warm up since the entire home is being heated at once. Because of this, zone heating alternatives can significantly lower your electricity bill. Using the whole house approach, central heating incurs an added installation cost, as well. A professional heating specialist must be hired to service and repair these systems. Smaller zone heaters are versatile and significantly cheaper to purchase. For example, all of these units are under $500 and can provide ample heat for a generously sized room.

Space heating is the green alternative of choice for consumers seeking to make their homes eco-friendly. Electric fireplaces offer lower operational costs, making them a feasible option for many. At just around 11 cents per hour, it’s no wonder many are converting to zone heating.

Choosing between Zone Heating & Central Heating

Finding the right system for your home depends on several factors. Budget, heating requirements, and square footage all need to be taken into consideration. Zone heaters are ideal for smaller areas or when you are searching for ways to save money heating your home. The other upside is that you can move them to other rooms or even take them with you when you move.

Central heaters provide the most heating capacity. This can be the best choice if you aren’t worried about cost. A well insulated home is of utmost importance when using a central heating system, though. This ensures that warm air is not able to escape through windows, vents, and small cracks.


Taking all of these factors into consideration, a homeowner must make an educated decision on which heating system will work best for their situation. If you want the most hot air and don’t mind the added cost, central heating might be right for you, however zone heaters work well for those looking to lower their energy bill and enjoy instant warmth.

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