Most Efficient Home Heating Systems

Any homeowner can tell you it is expensive to heat a home. On average, heating costs account for approximately 30% of a residence’s utility bills. 

While adding enhancements such as programmable thermostats can help reduce heating and cooling costs, if you are looking to lower your energy bills, the best place to start is to equip your home with an energy-efficient heating system. Even if this involves an initial investment, you will enjoy immediate benefits from an efficient heating system with lower energy costs.


Every system has an annual fuel utilization efficiency rating (AFUE). The AFUE rating is a percentage that indicates how much energy the system converts to heating your home in relation to the amount going to waste. For example, an AFUE rating of 95% shows that a system effectively utilizes all but 5% of its energy. 

The Department of Energy requires a minimum efficiency rating of 80%. However, many of the newer systems far exceed this rating. The least efficient heating systems for homes include any system made before 1992. 

Read on to learn more about the best types of residential heating and cooling in Oak Park.


While choosing a system with the best possible AFUE rating is a vital component of an efficient home heating solution, you also must select a system that is compatible with the energy sources in your home. The most common residential energy sources are electric heating or natural gas. 

Natural gas is more energy-efficient than electric heating. If your home is not natural gas compatible, contact your gas company to learn whether a natural gas conversion is possible.



There are electric and natural gas models of furnaces. The natural gas furnace is the most efficient type of heating system for homes. Furnaces utilize a heat exchanger component to treat the air and circulate it through a series of ducts. 

In addition to their high-efficiency ratings, furnaces are surprisingly affordable. The average cost of a new natural gas furnace is between $2,000 and $7,000. Electric furnaces are slightly more expensive. The only downside of furnace heating is the noise from the fan.

Heat Pump

Heat pumps provide both heating and air conditioning, making them efficient by nature. Unlike furnaces, heat pumps do not generate heat. Instead, they harvest heating and cooling energy from indoors and outside to keep indoor temperatures comfortable year-round. In addition to being energy-efficient, heat pumps are quieter than furnaces and provide outstanding air filtration. 

The most common types of heat pumps include: 

  • Air source heat pumps: As the name indicates, air source heat pumps treat and transfer indoor and outdoor air to provide indoor heating or cooling as needed. Air heat pumps are the most widely-used and affordable type of heat pump.
  • Water source heat pumps: These heat pumps use water to generate and dissipate heating or cooling. You must live near a natural water source to utilize this technology.
  • Geothermal source heat pumps: Also known as ground-source heat pumps, geothermal technology uses underground piping to harvest energy for efficient heating and cooling. Upgrading your heating system to a heat pump system will ensure substantial savings in future energy costs. 

The average price for an air heat pump is around $5,600 but can go as high as $20,000 if you have a large home and opt for a geothermal or water-source heat pump. However, as the demand for geothermal heat pumps increases, the pricing has dropped, making them less cost-prohibitive for consumers. 

The Department of Energy does not measure a heat pump’s energy efficiency using the AFUE system. Instead, there are two respective rating factors:

  • Heating Seasonal Performance Factor measures heating performance
  • Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio measures cooling performance 

To mitigate confusion on the subject, choose an Energy Star certified heat pump to ensure that the system meets or exceeds your energy efficiency criteria.

Mini Splits

If installing a new heat pump is not in the budget, the more affordable mini-split system is an excellent alternative. Mini-split heat pumps consist of an outdoor unit that works in tandem with multiple indoor units, using a refrigerant to treat outdoor air and disperse it indoors through a blower. This type of heat pump works well with retrofits and room additions. 

Boiler System

Yes, boilers are still a home heating option. Boiler systems heat water in a tank and pump it through a piping system to warm your indoor space. 

There are two main types of boiler systems to heat your home: 

  • Steam boiler: A steam boiler heats water to its boiling point and moves the hot steam to radiators through dedicated piping. The radiator provides zoned heating options as they open and close as needed.
  • Hot water boiler: Gas or electricity heats the water and pushes it through radiant floor piping, allowing heat to radiate upward from the floor to warm the space. 

Boilers fueled by natural gas are energy efficient, some with an AFUE rating of 100%. Electric and oil-fueled boilers are uncommon in North American homes. The disadvantages of boiler systems include their large, cylindrical size and the price tag. Boiler systems can cost as much as $10,000, and repairs costs are higher than furnaces.


With almost 30 years of experience installing and repairing heating systems for homes, A Custom Services, Inc. is the premier HVAC contracting service in Oak Park, IL, and the surrounding areas. We strive to deliver the best possible workmanship on every job, whatever the size and scope. 

Call us today at (773) 831-4891 to discuss home heating options with our HVAC experts or schedule a consultation and free estimate. Our knowledgeable team is happy to answer your questions, and there is no obligation. 

If you prefer researching heating options on your own, continue reading to learn more if having a boiler or furnace is better for you.

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