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Residential Furnace Options & Types for People Living in Orange County, CA

Maybe you are building a new home? Maybe you are replacing an existing furnace that is past its prime? Even with the gorgeous weather we enjoy a lot of the time here in Orange County, CA, a furnace is still a vital component of any residential property.

Furnace Options and Their Merits

Deciding on the best furnace system for your home however can make a big difference to how comfortable and healthy your home becomes.  Nowadays there are multiple types and brands of furnaces to choose from.  There are also a lot of optional features which can dramatically enhance how well the system works, how comfortable your home is, not to mention how efficiently and cost effectively it runs.

Bottom line, we believe the more you know about the potential furnace options and their merits the better.  When you understand those along with what type of system will work best in your home, the more likely you are to spend your money wisely and get what you want.

Residential Furnace Types – Orange County California

Forced Air Gas Heating (FAGH or FAU)

By far the most common type of central heating system is the gas furnace. Typically located in a closet, attic or garage, these cozy comfort makers are arguably the best option available for most residences. They are also an integral part of your air conditioner or may allow you to add an air conditioning system if your home was built without.


  • Most economical – they provide the most heat at the lowest cost, largely because natural gas is fairly inexpensive in Southern California
  • Repair costs tend to be fairly low
  • The average life expectancy is 15-20 years (if properly cared for)
  • They offer 80-98% efficiency which means – for every dollar you spend on heating, assuming it’s operating correctly and all ducting is intact and properly sealed, .80-.98 cents can actually be considered a direct cost of conditioning/heating your home. The remaining amount is natural heat loss through chimney or flue vents


  • They pose potential health and safety hazards such as gas leaks, carbon monoxide exposure and even fire hazards IF THEY ARE NOT PROPERLY MAINTAINED

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Heat pumps or package units offer heating and cooling through a single system and are typically the preferred option if no natural gas is available to the home or gas can’t be run to the location of the unit. An efficient heat pump is fairly reliable to provide year round comfort in warmer climates such as Southern California. In areas that experience more extreme temperature in winter, they tend to be used in tandem with an alternate heat source such as electric heat strips or elements.


  • Clean operation without the potential hazards of gas furnaces including gas leaks and ruptured fireboxes
  • They help dehumidify the space as well as heat and cool
  • Life expectancy is around 15 years if properly maintained


  • Higher operating cost because they’re all electric
  • They don’t heat your home as quickly or efficiently as a gas furnace, especially in colder temperatures

Hydronic Heat

Somewhat obscure, but not unheard of as a residential Orange County furnace alternative, hydronic heaters are fueled by hot water and typically used in condominium complexes with large common boilers that heat multiple units. It’s often considered a more cost effective option for builders who develop this type of community.


  • Cost effective to install in smaller residences in close proximity that can share a common water source
  • Life expectancy is about 10-15 years with proper care


  • If installed individually they operate off of your hot water heater which can run you out of hot water quickly during shower time if you don’t have a high recovery water heater
  • Local hard water creates mineral deposits that can cause system malfunctions
  • They’re susceptible to water leaks due to the thinner copper lines which allow for better heat transfer
  • The water pumps are expensive to replace
  • Not many HVAC service companies know how to repair them. AC Cool does!

Wall & Floor Heaters

The technology is somewhat outdated but wall heaters and floor furnaces are still prevalent in smaller SoCal spaces such as <1000 sq ft apartments and similar dwellings.


  • They’re fairly inexpensive to operate because they run on natural gas
  • There are few moving parts so repairs tend to be less costly. Even entire unit replacement is fairly affordable


  • They’re not particularly efficient as they tend to only heat the immediate area/room where they are located
  • They pose a safety hazard, especially for small children and pets, as the units can get hot to the touch
  • Average life expectancy (safely) is under 10 years

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