How Do You Choose the Right Heating System For Your New Home?

The number two question a builder hears from a homeowner is, “What kind of heating system do you recommend?” (See the number one question here!)

There are many options for your heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system. Researching the right system for you is a critical part of planning your custom new home, and that involves taking into consideration some factors that will affect your HVAC system.

1)      The first and most important factor when deciding on your HVAC system is to provide the most energy efficient house possible to install it in. If your house is well insulated and well sealed (not just to building code), the system you choose will work to your expectations and beyond, providing a comfortable living environment for your family at very reasonable operating costs.

It’s amazing how many homeowners will pay thousands, or even tens of thousands, to get the “ultimate” heating system, but won’t spend a few thousand to install insulated sheathing on the exterior walls and add extra insulation to the attic space.

Talk to your builder about how you can make your home as energy efficient as possible, which will help your HVAC system work better, too.

2)      Know which system will work best for your new home. If you’re on a tight budget, electric baseboard heating, oil-fired forced air, or a hot water baseboard heating system may be your best options.

If air conditioning is important, look into a heat pump system. Most of these systems are electric, but other options are available. A fully ducted heat pump will heat and cool your entire home, and will do so very efficiently.  


A mini-split, or ductless, system offers efficient heating and cooling options at an affordable price. Mini-splits are also great for air conditioning specific areas, such as the kitchen, family room, master bedroom, and so on.


In-floor heating is yet another choice. With these systems, loops (zones) of heating lines are installed on top of the floor sheathing, and then covered in a concrete over pour. The finished flooring is installed on top of the concrete, providing a warm and comfortable surface to walk upon.

3)      Not all manufacturers are equal. The quality, efficiency and longevity of HVAC systems vary greatly from one brand name to another. Ensure the manufacturer you select has a quality brand product and a great reputation. Even an industry-leading manufacturer may offer equipment that varies in efficiency and quality. The age-old expression, “You get what you pay for,” is true. Research the good, better and best products from all manufacturers, and then select the best quality that fits within your budget. While you may pay more for quality, it will save you time and money in the long run.

It’s important to decide on your heating system early in your project, because some of the options will affect how your home is built. Be sure to ask your builder about the benefits and restrictions of each heating system you’re considering for your new home.

Keith Sawlor Sawlor Built Homes Custom Home Builder in Nova Scotia

Keith Sawlor

Keith Sawlor is the second generation Owner of Sawlor Built Homes. With more than 35 years experience building custom homes in Nova Scotia, Keith has built a team that mirrors his professional knowledge and values.

Keith is a Certified Residential Builder who is also certified with many leading industry organizations. He is a Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Certified Builder, a Net Zero Energy (NZE) Certified Builder, a Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) R-2000 Certified Builder, and a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS).

Keith is a Board Member of the Atlantic Home Warranty Program as well as the Canadian Home Builders' Association Nova Scotia. He is involved in many other industry programs and associations, such as the Canadian Home Builders’ Association National, Safety Services Nova Scotia and Better Business Bureau.

Post your comment


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments

As a result of listening and caring about our vision Keith offered us a quote that was not the lowest, however also not the highest and more importantly one we...

Kylie & Rob


Accounts tweeting on innovation, industry and consumer issues with houses and energy use.

Twitter accounts covering innovation and consumer issues with the tech in our homes.