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Hot Air Heating vs. Radiators: Which Is Better?

Heating elements can do a lot for your comfort level and your bills! I love sharing my experience with different home heating elements.

What's the Best Way to Heat a House?

Having lived in houses with radiator central heating for the last 25 years, I made the assumption that radiators were the best way to heat a home. In fact, I knew of no other existing way of heating a common household. It was only when I bought a property that had hot air heating that I really began to compare them against each other.

I still have hot air heating and strongly recommend it. I find that it heats the house quicker in general and I have not seen much change in my gas bills! It comes down to personal preference and consideration of what you want. To each their own.

Radiator vs. Forced Air Furnace

Warm air heating is becoming more popular throughout the world, and many newer homes are built with air vent systems, especially in the USA and also in some parts of Europe.

However, it can be quite hard to find out useful information about the benefits, the advantages, and the disadvantages of hot air heating when compared with the more traditional radiator central heating systems. This article will give you some food for thought and should have you ready to make the decision on what is better for you.

What's the Difference in Cost?

The most common question when heating systems are discussed is regarding cost. Does it cost more to run hot air heating or more for radiator central heating? There are a few factors to take into consideration before answering this question...

It depends on how good your system is to start with and how often and efficiently you use it. For example, if you have thick radiator covers on every radiator in the house, then you will lose lots of heat and use more gas to heat up your house. Equally, if your vent system is not working to its full potential then you will also experience extra costs.

Putting that aside and assuming that both systems are being used efficiently, it is fair to say that there is very little difference in cost. Both use gas to heat your house, and neither one is necessarily more efficient than the other. So therefore what else could sway our minds to investing in a new heating system? Let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both systems.

Hot Air System Pros and Cons


Heats the house very quickly.

Vents should be cleaned.

Smaller and take up less space than radiators.

Air can be dry (you may experience dry lips when first using these systems).

Can easily shut and open vents to heat necessary areas only.

Perception is that these are not tidy-looking.

No pipework showing.

Fitted into ceilings.

Can be hidden and you will still feel the warmth circulating.

Should get serviced yearly to ensure system working well.

Humidifiers are available.

Some older systems produce some light noise.

Can increase or decrease temperature, so also works as an air conditioning unit. (Applies to most new systems.)

Great for drying clothes on a horse above the vents.

Radiator System Pros and Cons


Not a dry heat.

Larger, bulkier and take up more space.

Easy to switch certain radiators off, to heat only the necessary rooms.

Radiator covers stop full potential and are not cost-efficient.

More common, and easier to replace.

Can be a messy job to clean out a radiator.

Radiator covers can add comfort to a room.

Awkward to decorate around.

Good for placing towels, wet clothes on, etc.

Lose a lot of heat if not positioned in the right place.

Good common perception.

Pipework showing in some cases.


This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2010 Terry Harris


Nicola on October 29, 2019:

As a child we had radiators and the house was always abit chilly.

Ive been in a house fortge past 25 years with warm air and i love it ,its instant warms rooms brilliantly im going to up date my old system or new (seen as its 40 years old and still going strong ) just looks dated but i love it

ebond on August 15, 2017:

I am very cold natured. Love radiator heat. Not dry, forced air!