How does hydronic heating and cooling work?

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Written By Larious

Larious is the Executive Editor of LowkeyTech. He is a tech enthusiast and a content writer. 





Last Updated on March 4, 2020 by Larious

Hydronic heating and cooling systems are an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional forced-air heating and air conditioners. These systems can be very energy efficient and provide a much more even and consistent temperature. Modern hydronic systems are also low maintenance and designed to blend in with the décor of your home.

Understanding hydronic systems

Hydronic heating systems use hot water rather than hot air to efficiently heat homes. Water is heated by a boiler or an air-to-water heat pump and then circulated through piping. The heat from the water radiates out from the pipes and/or radiators to warm the home. These radiant heating systems can be installed as underfloor heating, underfloor trench heating, or radiators. 

When the water in a hydronic heating system has traveled through the circuit, it returns to the boiler or heat pump to be heated again. This closed-loop system is what makes hydronic heating so energy-efficient. This type of heating is also virtually silent and will not dry out the air in your home during the winter.

Hydronic heating and cooling systems

Hydronic heating and cooling systems work similarly to the heat-only systems with a few key differences. The main principle is still the same: hot and cold water is used to either heat or cools your home.

One of the main differences is that for combination heating and cooling systems, a heat pump needs to be used instead of a boiler. Boilers can only heat water, while most heat pumps come with refrigerant reversing valves that can also chill water.

A hydronic cooling system also needs specific terminal products to transfer the cool energy to each room. The most commonly used product is known as a fan coil. These units have a dual heating & cooling element and a fan to transfer the energy to the surrounding space.

While hydronic heating systems do not require fans, the air movement is needed for cooling systems. Although fan coils don’t sound very decorative, there are several different options designed to blend in with your home’s style:


Like heat-only hydronic systems, heating and cooling can be installed in an underfloor trench design. This option is quiet, unobtrusive, and can also provide ventilation.


Radiator-style units can be installed on walls to heat and cool individual rooms. These are available in several different modern and classic designs. 

Ceiling mounted

Ceiling mounted units function the same way as the others but are installed on your ceiling where they are more out of view.


For even more subtlety, units can be recessed in walls and ceilings to keep them out of sight.

Benefits of hydronic heating and cooling systems

Radiant heating is much more energy-efficient than forced-air heating. A liquid like water is a much better conductor of heat than air is and can keep temperatures more constant. 

Likewise, hydronic cooling systems reduce energy usage and allow you to enjoy cool indoor temperatures during the summer. These systems give you complete control over the temperature in each individual room. You can heat or cool only the spaces you’re using, saving you even more on energy costs.

Because water is the source of your system’s hot and cold energy, dust and other allergens won’t be stirred up by constant, forceful air movement. This creates a healthier home environment, especially for those with allergies.

Finally, hydronic heating and cooling systems are very versatile. There are several different options for installation that can be tailored to your needs and the design of your home.

A greener solution

Overall, choosing a hydronic heating and cooling system over conventional forced-air heating and air conditioning is a way to reduce your carbon footprint and enjoy consistent and customizable temperature in your home.

Want to learn more about the benefits of hydronic heating? Don’t hesitate to reach out to professional hydronic heating suppliers and installers. Qualified and experienced experts can assess your home and let you know the best way to integrate a hydronic heating and cooling system into your home. 

Get in touch with Hunt Heating to find the perfect hydronic heating solution for your home.


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