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Understand the Basics of your Home Heating and Cooling System

Understand the Basics of your Home Heating and Cooling System

It’s easy to take for granted our home heating and cooling systems. They operate pretty unobtrusively and do their jobs efficiently when installed by a professional. We don’t even notice their existence until something goes wrong and our home becomes very uncomfortable.

Oftentimes the first step in repair or assessing the need for repair is a simple understanding of how your system works, how to relay to problem effectively to your heating and cooling specialist, and could even include a simple solution that you, the homeowner, can tackle yourself with a good set of instructions.

Let’s break down the parts of a few typical systems and give you a basic understanding of what’s happening in home heating and cooling systems.



Your source is either your furnace (or another heating component) or your air conditioner. Oftentimes, these use the same means of distribution, such as in a forced air system when both heating and cooling systems utilize shared ductwork to regulate temperature.

Every source of your home heating and cooling systems burns energy in order to function. That could be gas, electricity, wood, etc. But energy is necessary to run the system. Knowing which form of energy is powering your system will help you to better understand how it’s functioning.



Forced air systems: An electric blower (fan) pushes hot or cold air throughout your home via metal ducts. Returns (part of the ductwork) allow for air to be redistributed and heated or cooled again depending upon settings.

Gravity systems: These make use of the science of hot air rising and cool air dropping. By that rule, gravity systems cannot distribute cool air from an air conditioner. The furnace is located below or at ground level and the warmed air rises from it throughout the home via ducts and the cool air sinks to be reheated.

Radiant systems: Radiant systems utilize heated water kept in a boiler to warm the home. The hot water is distributed via pipes through the house (the type and age of the system dictate how heat is eventually distributed) and warms the home. The air contacting the heated radiator/convector/floor is warmed and eventually warms the entire room and home.



Your thermostat regulates the temperature in your home. It’s a heat sensitive switch controlled by bimetallic elements responding to temperature changes in your home. If you have a newer thermostat, it could be controlled by solid-state elements as well.

Home Heating and Cooling System

If any of these pieces of the heating and cooling system puzzle are still a complete mystery to you, pleasecontact us at Earth Energyand we can help you better understand your home heating and cooling systems.

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