Designing Heating Systems for the Coldest Winters

Designing Heating Systems for the Coldest Winters

Designing Heating Systems for the Coldest Winters


Cold Winter

Winter can be extremely cold and rough for some regions where the temperature goes sub-zero and can reach -23°C (-10°F) or even lower. In order to combat the chill of the winter, having space heating systems is a must in those regions and without them, the indoor temperature is not suitable for living. Local weather is an important parameter when it comes to designing a heating system because heating loads are different from one property to another. There is a wide variety of configuration for Heating Systems also known as HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), and here are some of them.

Heating Systems for the Coldest of Winters

Furnaces and Boilers:

Lennox Furnace Blower Motor

• In the majority of cold regions, citizens rely on furnaces for their heating needs. A furnace can be installed to send heated air up, down or sideways to accommodate the space where the furnace is installed. It works by blowing the heated air through ducts that deliver the warm air to rooms. Normally, burners fueled by either natural gas or propane are used to generate the heart. Temperature is controlled by a wall mounted thermostat that signals to turn on or off the furnace depending on the room’s temperature.
• Boilers basically have the same functionality except that furnaces carry heat through the air. Boilers provide heat by distributing hot water through radiators around a house. The cooled water then goes back to the boiler to be heated again and so on. Generally, a boiler uses natural gas, heating oil for fuel or wood pellets which in this case is called a Biomass Boiler.

Biomass Boiler

Biomass Boiler

Heat Pumps and Electric Heat Pumps:

 Air to Air heat pump

There is a wide verity of heat pumps:

  • Air to air heat pumps.
  • Air to water heat pumps.
  • Ground source heat pumps.
  • Water source heat pumps.

The common feature between these pumps is that they all have a key limitation and their efficiency drops as the outdoor temperature drops below the water freezing point. Air to air heat pumps looks very similar to a standard air conditioning split unit, with the unit located outside and another unit located inside. These can work to provide both heating and cooling. In the heating mode, the refrigerant leaves a compressor as a high-pressure, high-temperature vapor and passes to the indoor unit to exchange its thermal energy until the vapor condenses to a liquid, then goes through the outdoor unit to lose its pressure and goes back to the compressor. Air to water heat pumps is the same except that hot vapor exchanges its thermal energy with water.

Ground heat pumps are a bit more efficient than the other types but their installation is expensive and sometimes there is no direct access to the ground. Electric heat pumps are more modern as they run cleaner without any emissions, their performance never decreases as long as electricity is on. Performance for the traditional heat pumps can be improved by having a backup heater. With this backup, the operating cost of the device is reduced but it is more expensive because two energy sources are required.

Gas-Fired Space Heaters:

Free-Standing heater

Free-Standing heater

A gas heater is a very useful home appliance. Direct heat technology works well in small rooms as it doesn’t require any ductwork. The disadvantage of this heater is that the heat output is relatively low. The device can be wall-mounted or free-standing and the heat generated from the burning natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, propane or butane is directly exchanged with air within the room. This heating method is known as conventional heating. There are also portable electric (plug-in) space heaters which are inexpensive to buy but cost a lot to use.

Electrical space heater

 Electrical space heater

Radiant Floor Heat:

House heating floor system

Radiant floor heating generally means tubes embedded in the mortar beneath the floor. They circulate warm water to create a radiant heat exchange of thermal energy to cold surfaces which in turn warms the people inside the room. This technology has some advantages as well as some drawbacks. For instance, it provides comfortable even heat throughout the whole room, and it is very energy efficient. However, the installation of its floor system is very expensive while its heat-up cycle is relatively slow. Future maintenance can also be difficult for some hidden pipes.


In conclusion, Space heating systems have a fundamental role in buildings and getting the optimal system depends on the house layout, the local weather, and affordability. So it is important to choose the right HVAC or consult with qualified MEP engineering firms.

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