Choosing the Best Heating System for Your Rental Property

Key Takeaways

  • The most efficient heating system for a rental property depends on factors like property size, climate, insulation levels, and fuel availability.
  • The cost of heating systems varies significantly depending on the type of system chosen.
  • Renewable energy heating systems can improve your environmental footprint and may be more cost-effective in the long run.

Understanding Different Types of Heating Systems

Forced Air Heating and Cooling Systems

These are commonly used systems combining heating and cooling in one. The furnace, which can run on natural gas, liquid propane, fuel oil, or electric, forces warm air into rooms through ducts. 

The same ducts also serve for air conditioning, making these systems two-in-one. 

Costs for these systems will usually range from $5,000 to $10,000 on average.

Gravity Air Furnace Systems

Gravity air furnace systems also distribute warm air through ducts into each room. 

A gravity air system, also known as an octopus furnace, relies on the natural principle that hot air rises and cold air falls. 

It heats air within a furnace, and as the warmed air rises naturally, it moves through the ducts and into the home's rooms. When the air cools, it falls back to the furnace to be reheated. 

This system doesn't need a blower fan, making it quieter than a forced air system. However, it can only provide heat, not air cooling.

These low-maintenance systems are perfect for people looking for a simple solution and they typically range from around $8,000 to $10,000.

In-Floor Radiant Heating Systems

In-floor radiant heating systems are one of the most quiet and effective heating methods available. 

What is Radiant Heating?

They work by directly heating the objects in a room, as opposed to warming the air, as is common in traditional heating systems like the forced air or gravity systems we’ve already looked at..

The process begins when electric current or hot water passes through the heating element (electric wires) embedded under the floor. As the element heats up, it emits infrared radiation. This radiation travels through the floor and into the room above, warming up any objects and people it encounters directly.

For in-floor systems, the heat is distributed evenly across the entire floor. This method results in an evenly heated room, as the warm objects then radiate heat themselves, warming the surrounding air and any other objects they are in contact with.

The in-floor radiant heating system can be installed under a variety of flooring types, including concrete, tile, and even some types of wood or carpet. They provide a comfortable, consistent heat that eliminates cold spots and drafts, and because there are no blowers involved, they are also a silent and unobtrusive way to heat a home.

These systems typically cost  between $1,800 and $6,000. 

However, their running and maintenance costs are often extremely low, with Green Wave Distribution Stating “For instance, a 400W panel costs around $0.05/hour, based on a $0.14/kWh average electricity cost.“ 

Radiant heating systems, both in-foor and radiant heat panels do offer a number of advantages for rental properties: 

  • They run on electricity, meaning they can be used in line with solar and other alternative energy sources you might have. 
  • They offer more comfortable heat than any other kind of home heating system. 
  • They don’t require any ongoing maintenance or servicing like traditional systems. 
  • They don’t take up any space or ruin a room’s aesthetics as radiators can.

Traditional Boiler and Radiators

A traditional boiler with radiators is a highly efficient solution for heating a home. 

The boiler circulates steam or hot water through pipes to radiators, heating the home. 

Most modern boilers are condensing boilers meaning that they are at least 92% energy efficient. 

Boilers normally cost around $3,000 to $6,000, with radiators costing up to $1,500 each.

Heat Pump Heating Systems

Heat pump heating systems are extremely energy efficient. 

They extract heat from the air or ground, delivering it to your home via an indoor air handler. 

An air source heat pump can have up to 300% energy efficiency, whilst a ground source heat pump can get all the way up to 400% energy efficiency. 

This means that for every single unit of energy you put in you get four units of heat produced by the heat pump. 

The cost for these systems are significant. An air source heat pump system with installation can range from $15,000 to $20,000 on average. 

A ground source heat pump costs even more given the requirements for installing the heating tubes underground and will usually cost somewhere between $25,000 to $40,000.

Electric Resistance Heating Systems

Electric resistance heaters are a popular choice for heating small areas, such as a home office or guest room, with costs starting from around $450. 

They can be handy for supplementary heating but are not particularly practical as whole-home heating systems.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Heating System for a Rental

Rental properties need to meet minimum standards of heating, but as the property owner you need to weigh up the costs of any particular heating system against the rent generated by the property.

The main factors that should influence the choice of heating system for your rented property should be

  • Property size
  • Available fuels
  • Insulation levels
  • Climate
  • Ongoing costs and maintenance


What is the best form of heating for a house?

Best is hard to quantify. 

The cost effective home heating system is either a combined forced air and cooling system, or a traditional gas boiler system.

The most comfortable and efficient form of heating for a house would be a combination of radiant underfloor heating combined with a heat pump.. 

The “best” system for your home depends on several factors, such as the size of your property, climate, available fuels, insulation level, and the size of your budget.

What is the cheapest heating system to run?

Currently furnace systems, especially natural gas designs, are the cheapest to run. 

They efficiently heat air and distribute it throughout the house. The next cheapest is natural gas boiler systems. 


Choosing the best heating system for a rental property involves consideration of various factors. 

It's essential to weigh the pros and cons of different systems and consider long-term running costs, efficiency, and environmental impact. 

Whether you opt for traditional systems or renewable energy options, remember that proper insulation is key to maximizing the effectiveness of any heating system.

If your primary concern is having a fantastic looking rental property with a heating system that will never need any maintenance or repairs, lasts for decades, and makes the home comfortable to live in, you may want to consider installing radiant floor heat mats.

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