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Heating Systems Compared: Central Heat vs. Baseboard Heat

In the process of buying a new home in Ohio, one of the most critical factors to consider is the type of heating system installed. The choice of a heating system not only affects the comfort level of your home but also has significant implications for your energy costs. To help you make an informed decision, we have compared two common systems—Central Forced-Air Heating and Per-Room Baseboard Heating—considering electric and gas/LP options for the forced-air system.

Central Forced-Air Heating Systems

These systems use a central furnace to heat air and then distribute it throughout the house via ductwork. The two most common types of central heat are electric and gas powered, each with their own unique attributes and considerations.

Electric Central Forced-Air Heating


  • Uniform Heating: Provides consistent heating throughout the home, with no cold spots.

  • Quick Heating: Can heat the entire house relatively quickly.

  • Air Filtration: Includes air filters that remove allergens and dust from the indoor air.

  • Compatible with AC: Often compatible with air conditioning systems for year-round temperature control.

  • High Efficiency: Close to 100% efficiency at the point of use.

  • Add-On Options: Can be integrated with air purifiers, humidifiers, and programmable thermostats for better control and improved indoor air quality.


  • Installation Cost: New installations can be costly, typically ranging from $2,500 to $7,500.

  • Higher Energy Usage: Despite high efficiency, these systems can use a significant amount of energy, particularly in larger homes. The average monthly cost of running an electric central heating system in Ohio can range from $100 to $200, depending on the size of the home and the efficiency of the system.

  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance, including filter changes and duct cleaning, is required.

Natural Gas / LP (Liquid Propane) Powered Central Forced-Air Heating


  • Cost-Effective: Compared to electric heating, gas is often a more cost-effective fuel source. The average monthly cost of running a gas central heating system in Ohio can range from $50 to $150.

  • Quick Heating: Like their electric counterparts, gas forced-air systems can heat the entire home quickly.

  • Air Filtration: Gas forced-air systems also include air filters to improve indoor air quality.

  • Highly Efficient: Gas/LP systems have a high energy efficiency rating, generally around 89-98%.

  • Add-On Options: Gas/LP forced-air systems can be integrated with humidifiers to help maintain comfortable humidity levels in the home, especially during the dry winter months. They can also be connected to programmable thermostats for better control over heating schedules.


  • Installation Cost: As with electric forced-air systems, installation can be costly, typically ranging from $2,500 to $7,500. Additional costs may be incurred for proper ventilation installation necessary to safely exhaust combustion gases.

  • Regular Maintenance: Alongside regular filter changes and duct cleaning, gas/LP systems also require periodic inspections for potential gas leaks and carbon monoxide, which can add to the ongoing costs of the system.

  • Dependent on Gas Supply: The system is reliant on a steady supply of natural gas or propane, which could be an issue in the event of a supply disruption.

Per-Room Baseboard Heating Systems

Also known as electric resistance heating, these systems convert electricity into heat. Each room has a separate baseboard unit that heats the air within the room.


  • Low Installation Cost: The cost of installing baseboard heating systems is typically lower than forced-air systems, often ranging from $150 to $200 per unit.

  • Individual Room Control: With separate units in each room, you can adjust the temperature according to your comfort level.

  • Quiet Operation: Unlike forced-air systems, baseboard heaters operate silently.

  • High Efficiency: Like electric forced-air systems, baseboard heaters also have nearly 100% efficiency at the point of use.

  • Add-On Options: Some models of baseboard heaters can be used with programmable thermostats for better temperature control in each room.


  • High Running Costs: Although baseboard heaters are cheap to install, they can be expensive to run. The average monthly cost for running electric baseboard heaters can range from $50 to $100 per room. For a larger home, these costs can quickly add up and exceed the costs of a central system, particularly during the colder Ohio winter months.

  • Slow to Heat: Baseboard heaters can take longer to warm a room.

  • No Cooling or Air Filtration: These systems only provide heating and do not have an air filtration option.


Choosing between a central forced-air system and a per-room baseboard heating system ultimately depends on your individual needs and circumstances. Consider the size of your home, your budget for installation and running costs, and your preference for individual room control or uniform heating.

Also, remember to take into account the system's efficiency and potential add-ons that can improve comfort and control. These are estimated average costs and your actual utility costs will depend on a variety of factors including the size of your home, the insulation quality, and your individual usage habits. No matter what heating system you choose, ensuring your Ohio home stays warm and comfortable during our frigid winters is a top priority.

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