Model home wrapped in a scarf
November 13, 2020

When winter hits Central NY, you know you’re going to need to rely on your heating systems to get you through the long cold months. Furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, and fireplaces are the primary options for heating a home. While these systems are an essential part of your home’s comfort, they may be a bit complex to understand how they function. Below are the ways these systems work to help you heat your home.


  • Function

A furnace is one of the most common heating systems used in New York. It works by heating the air, then uses a motor to blow that air through ducts to distribute heat throughout your home via registers or grills. It can be powered by electricity, natural gas, propane, and heating oil.

  •  Efficiency  

A furnace should be sealed and insulated to help with energy efficiency. Your furnace should be serviced on a yearly basis, but the air filters are recommended to be cleaned or replaced monthly to maximize energy efficiency. 

  •  Life Expectancy

15 to 30 years


  • Function

Boilers heat homes by heating water or steam that circulates through radiators or baseboard systems. The cooler water then returns to the boiler to be reheated. Boiler systems usually use natural gas, propane, heating oil, biodiesel blends, or electricity. Boilers allow you to “zone” your heat, giving you the power to pick the rooms you want to heat.

  • Efficiency

The older your boiler is the less efficient it will be in your home. Your boiler should be serviced and cleaned annually along with a combustion analysis to maintain efficiency.

  • Life Expectancy

15 to 30 years

Heat Pumps:

  • Function

Heat pumps are all-electric heating and cooling systems. Similar to air conditioners, heat pumps don’t actually create heat—they move it from one place to another. In winter, the heat pump creates heat with the help of an electrical system and discharges that heat inside the house. Heat pumps use outdoor compressors or condensers and are for both heating and cooling a home.

  • Efficiency

Heat pumps can heat a home two or four times as efficiently as other heating systems by producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and lowering the cost of heating bills.

  • Life Expectancy

15 years


  • Function

Fireplace inserts are closed combustion systems that are made of steel or cast iron with a glass front. This fireproof metal box helps to trap the heat and push that air into the room through the front vents. The heat exhaust then escapes through the chimney. Inserts can be powered by electricity, gas, propane, wood, pellets, or coal. For general safety, fireplaces should be inspected regularly to ensure that the fireplace drafts properly.

  • Efficiency  

Direct vented fireplaces are more efficient because the drafts and heat loss normally associated with fireplaces are eliminated.

  • Life Expectancy

10-15 years

Heating Tips:

  • Install a programmable thermostat in your home and set it at a steady comfortable temperature throughout in the winter.    

  • Clean registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes. 

  • During winter, keep the draperies and shades on your windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

If you have a heating system that you suspect to be in need of maintenance or repair, or you’re considering replacement - call us. Our team at Fred F. Collis & Sons has a solution for all your heating needs. No matter what you need, when it comes to your home's comfort - you can Count on Collis! 

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