Hi everyone.

I'm going to be putting a 1,600 sq. ft. 1st floor addition to my (very small) existing ranch home and I was wondering if anyone could recommend one heating/cooling system over another? My current home is fed by electric forced hot air and the system is antiquated and expensive, and I have a few window units for my air conditioning.

The industry has changed so much within the past few years its hard to keep up with the latest technologies. I leave in central Virginia and the climate is relatively comfortable and I don't experiece real harsh weather of either extreme on either side. But it does get very hot and quite cold at times. I know I want to stay clear away from oil and electric, and natural gas is not available in my area. That leaves either propane, solar or geothermal. And I'd prefer to stay away from solar as I'm in a heavily wooded area plus, like geothermal, it appears very costly to install.

I'm a mason by trade and I was planning on building 2 unvented fireplaces, each on opposite sides of the house to burn gas logs and I was going to run coiled piping in the firebox which would then supply hotwater baseboard, and as the hot water traveled to the far end of the home it would be re-heated by the second fireplace and then travel in a continuous loop to heat the entire house.

I was also planning on buying a propane oven, dryer and hot water heater, and I found out years ago that the key to making propane cost effective is to buy your own 1,000 gallon tank and buy the propane in bulk. And by doing so one tank full has lasted me over 2 years.

Unfortunately, my plan doesn't address the issue of my cooling system.

I've been looking into Lennox, Carrier, Bryant and various other manufactures and the dual heating/cooling systems with the heat pumps/exchangers seem to be very cost-effective, but I don't know anything about them or which one is best for my needs.

Could any of you recommend a system and manufacturer that would suit my needs based on your experience? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you in advance,
Steve