Best heating to install for a total rehab in Northeast

4 Replies

Working on a rehab to the studs if a 2 family in a high end tourist destination. The current heating system is natural gas with old cast iron hydronic radiators.  I can easily add ducts since the ceilings and walls have been removed. Looking for feedback on replacing the current single unit furnace with 2 systems that will appeal to higher end renters.


From what I understand about thermo and moisture protection. It's mostly about how well insulated and air sealed your home that will affect your heating and cooling results in terms of comfort and energy usage/ savings. The size of the home / room , energy supplier and fuel type will determine what your heating and cooling means. For example if you don't live close to a gas public utility you ll be looking at all electric appliances from what I understand they are cheap but expensive to maintenance. Hope that helps 

Just a few thoughts - 

Will you or the tenants be paying the utilities for the foreseeable future? Are you looking at long term tenants or vacation rentals - it being a tourist destination? What is your plan for A/C? If it might be used for vacation rentals I would think you will need to have A/C installed. Long term tenants on the other hand can buy their own window units. 

If you install a forced air system you can integrate A/C as well which is a plus if you think it is a necessity or adds value.

If your old cast iron radiators are currently connected to a hot water boiler and not a steam boiler you might consider refinishing them and installing new hi-efficiency modulating condensing boilers. Many times the modcon boilers won't reach the higher efficiencies homeowners expect due to the emitters they are connected to. However, the old cast iron radiators are a good combo. They provide "radiant" heat which is very comfortable and steady - different than your typical hydronic baseboard or forced hot air systems. Back in the day . . . the radiator had to be able to heat each room to a comfortable temperature in a house with no insulation, often times with a window cracked. Since your house will be insulated and air sealed these radiators will now be oversized. But that is a good thing when connecting to a modcon boiler. You will be able to circulate the hot water at a lower temperature through the system which means your boiler will be able to condense more of the time which and reach those higher efficiency ratings equaling lower fuel costs.

I am not a heating systems specialist, I've just done a lot of research and talked with some knowledgeable contractors who are passionate about this stuff. If you are replacing the systems and you have it down to the studs I would absolutely recommend you take note of all insulation types used and where, air sealing, and building envelope materials - get a contractor who specializes in "heating systems", not just a plumber, and have them do a heat loss calculation so the new system can be designed and sized appropriately. When sizing the systems you should also consider whether you might want to build any heated additions or heat/insulate an attic space in the future.

I've been replacing my conventional heating systems over to electric split systems. No duct work at all makes for an easier conversion. Provides low cost heating and cooling at a fraction of the costs.

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