The distinctions between forced air heating systems and others such as warm water radiation, steam radiation, and electrical convection, exist in every area from cost to efficiency.
Whether in new or existing structures, forced air systems require duct work distribution for heat along with accompanying diffusers for walls, ceilings, or both. Also necessary is the duct work for the cool air returns. Each of these individual components carry a moderate price tag.
One distinctive issue exists in the arrangement of furniture, doors, and closets as these would inhibit air flow necessary for efficient operation of the forced air system. An additional disadvantage is the blowing of warm air each time the thermostat turns the furnace on which can be disturbing if your favorite reading chair is in the path of the blast or within earshot of the actual unit.
Additional disadvantages and cost issues arise in installation. Metal fabrications for cold air returns as well as distribution diffusers are generally done by a skilled metal worker. Furnace installations can only be performed by licensed personnel, and as a result, also carry a price tag.
Maintenance of a forced air system has disadvantages as well. Cold air returns that are not in use during the warmer months can be a dirt magnet. Vacuuming, sweeping, and general cleaning of floors can send plumes of dust into the return duct work where it settles for the season. Unless one undertakes the extremely difficult chore of cleaning these returns, the first time the furnace is turned on in the fall many of these dirt particles will enter your home with great enthusiasm.
An advantage in the maintenance department is the relative ease in which air filters can be changed. These are inexpensive and can provide your home or office with clean, particle free air. Many types are available for various air requirements.
In terms of efficiency, forced air heating systems overall get a bad grade. When the warm air is transported from the furnace plenum through the tubular ductwork, it will lose heat to the cold air surrounding the ductwork. In other words, the ductwork has to be warmed somewhat before you will receive warmth in the individual rooms of your home or office.
The use of natural gas and electricity in forced air systems can also combine to a hefty monthly energy expenditure. Energy efficient models which use catalytic systems are on the market, and they help cut costs and are known to be more environmentally friendly.
Now this is not good news for people associated with the respective industries of electricity and natural gas as it only adds to the burden on the officials. To add to the woes, energy is more of wasted in the current times and its not like the safe heating oil delivery in New Jersey which manages everything easily.
As indicated, the disadvantages of forced air heating systems outweigh their advantages. Perhaps it is because so many homes and offices have been constructed with these systems installed that there are still so many in existence. In this age with so many new technologies for home heating available, it is indeed a curiosity that new forced air units are still installed.