I have heard different things about hydro air systems.

I am considering getting one because it is a 5000 SF house and a 1500+ SF addition is planned and I heard that it is easier to expand a hydro system and is better for larger houses. However, I have read some complaints, such as this one:

I would not install a hydro-air system. We just moved into a new house (8 yrs old) with hydro-air. The house is about 2800sf and has central a/c too. It has 9" of insulation in the attic, 4" in the walls, plus vinyl siding with a thin layer of foam insulation. We live in MA, so it get very cold here. I don't like the heating system at all. In the winter it runs anytime the sinks are turned on (even if you aren't using hot water). And because it uses a blower run by electricity and hot water heated by oil, you are essentially tied into using 2 fuels to heat your house. Inefficient. During summer, I turn the whole system off, except when I need some hot water to shower. We saved over $100/month in electricity alone by doing this... not to mention the oil. We have not lived in this house for a full winter yet. We moved in in March, which was the coldest March on record. This house used 100 gal of oil in 10 days with the heat set to 60 degrees while nobody was even living here.

Is there validity to this complaint?

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    Every type of furnace system uses electricity to circulate the working fluid (usually air). So they are all dual fuel, you will not escape that in the rust belt. There are electricityless furnaces, but they are for CA/FL, no one will install or support one in the rust belt. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 24 '18 at 6:16
  • @Harper -- there are rust belt systems that are not dual fuel, but they are gravity steam systems and are thoroughly weirdos in today's world as a result – ThreePhaseEel Sep 24 '18 at 11:46
  • @ThreePhaseEel Those gravity steam systems were from long ago and as long as people did not try to re-engineer them they worked great. What usually happened to these systems was that a service tech or so called engineer would make changes to these systems to make them more energy efficient; what a mistake. Just thought that you might like to know this. – d.george Sep 30 '18 at 10:55
  • @d.george -- yeah, there aren't many people who understand what's going on in a domestic steam heating system these days. – ThreePhaseEel Sep 30 '18 at 13:49
  • So other than cost and summer inefficiency what is your complaint? I ask this because all heating bills go up in the winter. For a few months at my last place it was all electric changed over to forced air gas / central air and loved it. At my current place mini splits (all electric) costs more than gas for a smaller home but cheaper than baseboard heat that was here when we purchased it. If you are looking for options it is not clear but using many times the amount of fuel is normal when it gets cold so you can live with it or update like I have. – Ed Beal Dec 31 '18 at 21:46

I live in Pennsylvania and almost every large building would have what you are calling a "hydro-ai system. They utilize a hot water or steam boiler for the heating side and an optional chilled water system for the A/C system. I never worked on the chilled water systems but have 40+ years on the boilers. These systems work great as long as the system is designed correctly. I have only seen these systems installed in very large houses of the super rich since the installed cost is extremely high. They are not for normal size houses due to cost. I would recommend that you hire a professional engineer that specializes in these type systems specifically an engineer that does large buildings and ask for an overall assessment of the system including operational efficiencies and projected costs. My neighbor has a geothermal heat pump that provides heating and A/C and also partial domestic hot water heating tied to a duct system (forced air) at a fraction of my cost to heat and cool the same size house. My own preference for a 2500 approx. house would be a forced air furnace with A/C. (geothermal, if you can afford it). Your house may more than 1 system due to it's size.

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