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Forced air or hydronic with baseboards?
I currently have a gas furnace (26 years old) with forced hot air vents on my first and second floors of a 2000 plus sq. foot victorian home in Boston). I have been getting estimates for a new heating system and one person suggested that while it would be more expensive, I would be much happier if I took out the duct forced air system and converted everything to hydronic baseboards. He told me that while there are efficient forced air systems built nowadays, mine was an afterthought in my 100plus year old house and would never work very well. In addition, he touted that with the hydronic system I could easily create multiple zones, get heat to my third floor finished attic (which is currently unheated), my basement (which I plan to build a music room in), could heat my hot water, and that while it was more expense, I would see payback within about 10 years.
I brought up a concern about if I take out the ducts I would loose the ability to do central a/c and he again said that central a/c wouldn't be very effective in my house and would require pulling all the duct work out and insulating it. That I'd be better off with another sort of a/c system (a ductless, I think he mentioned) just in the rooms where it was needed.
I am concerned with the a/c issue, having to put baseboards over my beautiful 100 year old wood that goes around the bottom of my walls, and the invasiveness of adding piping in the walls. But, I have heard great things about the effectiveness and comfort of the hydronic baseboard systems, and we are a little cold and uncomfortable in the house as of now. There are five of us in my family, including stay-at-home mom (for the time being) and two kids under two years old!
Any thoughts or suggestions? Is it wasteful to tear out the existing system or worth it?