What is Alternative Heating and Cooling?

interior living room

Did you know that homeowners spend about 29 billion dollars per year? 

According to Energy Star, the annual bill for a gas furnace and central air conditioner costs on average $875 per year. That breaks down to about $73 per month. 

This number can vary depending on where you live and what your climate is like year-round. 

If you are looking to save some money on your energy bill or are interested in the available alternative heating and cooling, keep reading; we will be discussing some various options below. 

What is a Traditional System?

A traditional HVAC system is comprised of an air conditioner compressor unit that sits outside of the home, and inside sits the refrigerant system, heating unit (gas or electric), and of course, the ductwork and connected vents that you will see situated throughout the home. We go into more detail in another article called "What is an HVAC system." 

Alternative Heating and Cooling

People choose alternative forms of the traditional system because their homes are not equipped for this kind of system or simply try to be more energy-efficient or earth-friendly. 

Ductless mini-split system

The most common alternative to a traditional HVAC system is a ductless or a mini-split system. Like a traditional unit, a mini-split is made up of 2 components - an outdoor compressor unit and an indoor unit. However, it is about 30% more efficient than a standard split system and requires zero ductwork. This is an excellent alternative to those adding on to their homes or looking for a zoned system to control the temperature in different rooms of the house. Our last article, "What are the costs and benefits of a ductless heating and air conditioning system," discussed the unit in further detail. 

Geothermal Heat Pumps

This heating system is placed underground and relies on the underground temperature To heat the home. The temperatures underground are often warmer than the temperature of the surface during the winter. The temperatures usually fall between 45-75 degrees. The installation for geothermal heating is also typically more expensive and laborious than a standard system installation. 

Radiant Heat

Radiant heat is a system that involves small water pipes spread throughout the home under the floor. You might see this in a bathroom or home in colder climates to warm the floors as an additional luxury. These systems are about 15% more efficient than standard units; however, maintenance and repairs are intense because the floorboards and tiles will need to be removed and replaced. It is not the best option for already constructed homes because of the construction and installation process. 

Wood Furnaces

A more native alternative to a traditional system would be a wood-burning stove or working fireplace. Burning wood or coal to heat a home can be a great money-saving alternative because it does not rely on gas or electricity. It utilizes natural resources, and the only cost to heat your home would be the burning source's cost. Homeowners can have this additional heat unit, and many add it to their homes as a functional fashion statement. 

Attic Fan

This is an alternative that  isn't used very often, but an attic fan circulates the heat that rises in the home to the outside. 

Portable Air Conditioner

This is a convenient solution for those who need to cool an enclosed space that does not have window access or can not open the window they have in the room. You can also use this to cool a room in your home, so you don't have to use your whole house air conditioner.

Window Air Conditioners

The most common type of alternative cooling is the window unit. This unit is situated in a window so that the condenser system is located outside of the home and the fan and vent are inside. This is a cheap alternative used to cool apartments, houses, dorms, and any building with windows and electricity. They have been made more efficient over the years and can last about 3-5 years, depending on wear and tear. 


Most of these alternative heating and cooling systems can be used in conjunction with a traditional HVAC unit to save money and conserve energy. To find the best options available to you, search “heating and cooling near me” on your search engine. If you are interested in installing one of the alternative systems and live in the Madison, AL, our experienced technicians at Valley Heating and Cooling can help you.