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Boiler vs. Furnace: Which is best for a home?

Boiler vs furnace

Heating efficiency is imperative for your wallet and comfort during the colder months. But what types of heatsystems work best for your home? In comparing and contrasting a boiler vs. furnace, it’s necessary to assess which heating system offers the most warmth for your home while simultaneously cutting down on energy costs. Taking the time to fully understand the difference between a furnace and boiler to determine which home heating options win on warmth and efficiency is a smart decision for homeowners.

A boiler and a furnace are both forced air heating systems are designed to maintain a uniform temperature inside a building by heating air in a central location and the pushing that air through duct work. After learning more about the difference between a boiler vs. furnaceyou can understand how to efficiently heat your home this winter.

How does a furnace work?

A furnace uses air to transfer heat throughout your home. The furnace heats the air, which is then distributed by a blower through your home’s air duct system. The hot air is released into the room through registers or vents in the floor, walls, or ceiling. Furnaces can operate on electricity, natural gas, propane, or oil.

A well-functioning furnace translates into efficiency, which keeps your energy bills low, so it’s relevant to know how much a furnace inspection costs when choosing a heating system.

How does a boiler work?

There are two different types of boilers: steam and hot water. Steam boilers distribute heat through pipes to steam radiators. Hot water boilers distribute heat through baseboard radiators or radiant flooring systems. There are pros and cons of baseboard heat. Alternatively, hot water boilers can send the heat to a coil that heats the air. Boilers are powered by various energy sources, including natural gas, oil, electricity, and wood.

Boiler vs. Furnace

The most obvious difference that surfaces when comparing a boiler vs. furnaceis that a boiler heats water and furnaces heat the air. However, there are a great deal of differences that come into play when comparing a boiler vs. furnace.

Boiler Pros

  • Energy efficient. Boilers typically use less fuel to heat your home, saving money on your monthly energy bills.
  • Consistent heat flow. Boilers provide reliable, steady heat. The temperature consistency is better than with a furnace.
  • Quiet. Boilers heat water, so they don’t blow air around, making them much more quiet than furnaces.
  • Higher quality air.If you or your family suffer from allergies, a boiler is the best type of heating system. Hydronic heat systems use water to heat the air, so they don’t harbor allergens and dust in vents like furnaces.

Boiler Cons

  • More expensive than furnaces. Mid-efficiency boilers cost anywhere from $2,500 to $4,000, while high-efficiency boilers run $5,000 to $10,000, including installation. Steam and hot water boilers are approximately the same price, but hot water boilers are more efficient and cost less to operate in the long run.
  • Slower to adjust.Boilers take longer to react to changes in the thermostat. If you turn the heat up or down, a boiler will take longer to kick in or shut off.
  • Difficult to convert. If you have a boiler system, it’s more difficult to install a different type of heating system. Adding the duct work required to switch to a furnace is a difficult and costly task.
  • Not capable of cooling.Boilers don’t provide a way of cooling your home. Adding central air without existing ductwork can become pricey.
  • Leaks pose a hazard.A water leak in a boiler system can cause significant property damage. A leak can cause flooding — ruining floors, walls, and ceilings.

Furnace Pros 

  • Less expensive.Furnaces are more common than boilers because they’re far less expensive. The average furnace costs about $2,000 to $3,500 including installation.
  • No leak hazards. If a furnace leaks, it typically only leaks air. When a boiler leaks, it can cause significant water damage to your home.
  • No freezing hazard. With a furnace, there’s no water inside the system that can freeze if your power goes out. If the power goes out, the heating pipes in a boiler can freeze and burst if they’re exposed to frigid temperatures for too long.
  • Easier to install and repair.A furnace can usually be installed in a matter of hours, while a boiler installation can take days. Furnace repair is typically easier and less expensive as well.

Furnace Cons

  • Poor efficiency.A furnace will burn through fuel faster than a boiler because heating with air is less efficient than heating with water. This can drastically increase your energy costs.
  • A furnace blows air around through vents, which can create a lot of noise. It is extremely noticeable every time a furnace kicks on or shuts off.
  • Reduced heat consistency. Heat from a forced air heating system is not as consistent. Some areas of the home may be hotter or cooler than others. Furnaces also produce much drier air, which can be uncomfortable in the winter.
  • Inferior air quality. Furnace systems spread dust and allergens throughout your home and dry out the air, require you to have a humidifier.

A heating system perfect for your home.

Before choosing a heating system, you should fully understand the costs associated with a furnace and a boiler. If you’re asking yourself why your house is cold even with the heat turned on, then you might need to rethink if you have the optimum heating system for your home.

Whether you are in need of boiler or furnace repair, replacement, inspection, or just regular service work with the experts at John C. Flood. We are your go-to resource to extend your boiler or furnace lifespan, from installation through preventative maintenance and even repair.

Work with a team that puts your home’s comfort first. Contact John C. Flood for the most trusted HVAC professionals to take care of your boiler or furnace maintenance. HVAC systems are complex and require routine inspections and maintenance. You don’t want to be stuck with no heat in the middle of winter, so schedule your HVAC inspection today!