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Heating and cooling systems in the home are often taken for granted; how many of us actually appreciate how they work to maintain our comfort levels throughout the year? As it happens, heating and cooling systems are quite ingenious and have developed over the years into reliable temperature regulation systems. Here is a little bit about how they operate.
Every climate control system has three main components, a source of warm or cool air, a distribution channel, and thermostat control to maintain optimal temperatures. In most homes, both air types use the same distribution channels to reach different parts of the home.
Both heating and cooling systems work on the same principle - heat moves from warm objects to cool ones. Heating puts warm air into a cool room, and air conditioning takes warm air out of the room in the direction of cool air.
A forced-air system is a common type of air regulation system. It uses a fan to blow warm air generated by the furnace or central heating system through a set of ducts and into the home. At the same time, cool air is forced out of the home through another set of ducts.
This system is also adjustable; you don’t need to rely on the natural course of air from the fan. Instead, using a system of vents, the warm air in your home can be effectively controlled; this is the same system you will find in an air conditioner unit that also uses a blower for distribution.
A gravity system uses the principle that warm air rises so that you will find the furnace located in the basement of the home or near the ground floor. Unlike a forced-air system, a gravity system cannot distribute air through vents - instead, the warm air rises through ducts.
A typical home that uses a gravity system will have heat registers positioned high on the walls. These are used to capture the warm air as it cools and transports it back through a series of ducts to the furnace, where it can be reheated and sent back up.
Radiant systems are also a common heating system used in homes. Radiant systems use the walls, floors, and ceilings to warm the air in the home. Typically, the warming devices are radiators attached to the walls or floors in the rooms. Some systems use electric heating panels.
Radiant systems cannot distribute heat through channels, but they are very effective, especially in areas where electricity is relatively inexpensive. Radiant systems often use a boiler and hot water to generate and distribute heat in a room.
The thermostat is the primary way that heating and cooling systems regulate temperatures in the home. This unique device uses a bimetallic element to detect whether the air is above or below the “set-point”. It then tells the source to switch on/off as required.