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I recently bought a 1600 sq ft, one story vacation home in northern N.M and it currently has electric baseboard heat. This heating system is not only very expensive to operate, it doesn't keep the house warm in the winter. I've been advised by two different contractors on heating systems. One recommended a propane forced air heating system (natural gas is not available). The other recommended hot water baseboard heat. A large propane tank is already on the property, so that is not a cost issue.

The house is at an elevation of 8000 ft and typical winter temps are single digits at night (but it can get much colder) and 30's during the day. Summer temps are 40's at night and 70's during the day (no air conditioning system is there or needed). Very low humidity all the time. We currently plan to occupy it 3 or 4 times a year and may possibly rent it out.

I'm thinking forced air would be preferable, mainly because that's what I have in my primary home and I know it provides pretty much instant heat. I would think a hot water system would take awhile to warm a house and then when you wanted to stop heating, would take awhile to cool down. I've also heard that a humidifier could be built into a forced air system, which would be attractive if they work well. There is an unfinished (dirt floor) basement/crawl space below the main floor with enough room for a furnace.

Any advice I can get regarding the pros and cons of each type of system, from an initial installation cost and ongoing cost point of view as well as effectiveness in warming a cold house, would be most appreciated.

If forced air is the answer, any recommendations on types, quality, variable speed fan vs single speed, etc. would be appreciated as well.
 

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A good friend of mine has a cottage in a similar climate as yours - a little colder in winter and warmer in the summer, but similar. He does not have AC either. What he uses is propane heated baseboard heaters in the bedrooms and he has propane fireplaces - one on each level. He has a very large propane tank - not sure of the capacity. His cottage is about 2000+ sq.ft. and he is happy with the propane.

I'm not sure if I helped but thought I'd offer the info. I'm sure some of the HVAC experts will be here soon to offer their advice.
 

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Although I like hot water or steam baseboard heat, in a "vacation home" situation I would shy away from a whater heating system.

If a hot air system fails while you are away - maybe some plumbing breaks. But with a hot water systen you can easily need a new boiler and new baseboard besides. <g>

PHM
 
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