As a homeowner, it’s important to know what kind of heating system you have so you can optimize your energy efficiency, lower your utility bills, and prolong the life of your equipment. Whether you’re in the market for a smart thermostat or an entire HVAC upgrade, answering the question, “What type of heating system do I have?” is essential. Explore the types of heaters in houses and learn to identify the kind you have with Aire Serv®.

Types of Home Heating Systems

There are at least a dozen types of heaters in houses across America. They vary based on the fuel source, heat distribution method, and climate they are best suited to. Let’s take a look at some of the different types. We’ll guide you on how to tell if the heating is gas or electric so you can determine what type of heating you have.


A furnace is a heating system that warms up your home using natural gas, oil, propane, or electricity. Although different furnaces use different fuels, all use an electric starter for ignition. It heats the air and distributes it throughout your house using a series of ducts. Furnaces are usually located in closets, basements, attics, or crawl spaces.

If you're wondering how to tell if the heating is gas or electric, turn it on, then look for a few clues. An electric furnace has no window or flame and shouldn’t make noise. A gas-burning furnace will have a small window on the front through which you can see the main burner flame glowing blue. You can also hear the gas burner when it’s in operation. A gas furnace also requires a flue on your roof. The flue, which exhausts gasses, looks like a short pipe emerging from the roof with a rain cap. Electric furnaces don’t have an exhaust flue. Finally, there may be a paper label on your furnace identifying its fuel source.

Electric Heater

Electric heaters, or electric resistance heating systems, are often used to supplement the heating in a specific room, such as a home office or finished basement. They have no ductwork, air handlers, pumps, or central equipment. These heaters are small and typically installed on the baseboard or wall of a single room.

Heat Pump

Heat pumps, an energy-efficient type of heaters in houses, are growing in popularity. They work by transferring heat from cool spaces to warm. These pumps effectively cool in the summer and heat in the winter, reversing their action with the season. They are best suited to moderate climate conditions, losing significant efficiency in freezing temperatures and below. Cold climate heat pumps are making advancements, but they still cost more to run in cold weather than other systems.

Unsure what type of heating you have? Look at the outdoor unit. It should have a label identifying it as an air conditioner or heat pump. No label? Search the brand and model online. Also, check for horizontal brass pipes in the unit, which are only present in a heat pump system. Your thermostat might have an emergency heat option, too. If you're still unsure, a local Aire Serv expert can explain the type of heating system you have.

Gas Heater

Gas heating systems are common in places that experience milder winters. They can warm and cool your space, using electricity to transfer heat from cooler areas to warmer ones, depending on the season. They often move air through ducts, but there are also ductless systems available.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

This type of heating system uses the earth's ability to generate heat to provide consistent heating and cooling for your home. Geothermal heat pumps use this thermal energy to warm or cool your home’s air. These systems are quiet and really good at saving energy. The initial installation costs for this type of system can be high because setting it up requires some excavation and other components. However, after the initial setup, these systems often pay for themselves over time in terms of efficiency and energy savings.

Boiler Heating System

A boiler is a traditional type of heater used in houses for generations. A central boiler heats water and then circulates the hot water or the steam through a network of pipes to radiator units installed around the home. If you’re unsure what type of heating you have, the presence of upright, cast iron radiators in various rooms tells you that yours is a boiler system.

Lower Your Heating Bills with Aire Serv

If you’re still wondering what kind of heating system you have, call the friendly HVAC experts at Aire Serv. We provide comprehensive HVAC services and will help you learn all about your specific equipment. Regardless of what type of heating system you have, keeping it operating efficiently requires regular maintenance. We’ll take care of that, too!

When you schedule an appointment with Aire Serv, you can rest easy knowing all our work is backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise™, which ensures your satisfaction. We also provide upfront pricing, which means no overtime, holiday, or hidden fees.

Request an appointment today and breathe easy with Aire Serv!

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