Boiler Vs. Furnace: How to Choose the Best Heating System for Your Home

Boilers and furnaces are reliable and efficient heating systems for residential homes. Boilers use water to heat indoor air, while furnaces heat air directly and blow it into the indoor spaces. Due to these variations in the mode of operation, boilers and furnaces have significant differences that you should consider when choosing a heating system for your home. Below are the key factors you should assess before making a choice.

Desired Comfort Levels

Boilers use a series of pipes to supply heat to the various access points inside the house. These points are usually baseboard heaters and radiators located on the walls, floors, and ceiling. This form of heating is known as radiant heating, and it ensures an even and consistent supply of warm air throughout the house. 

Furnaces heat air in the system and push it into the ductwork for circulation into the home. Although furnaces are efficient systems, blocked air vents, dirty filters, and leaky ducts can cause uneven heating in the rooms. The building's layout can also cause heating problems, especially if you have not zoned the system. 

Quality of Indoor Air

Modern furnaces have a sealed combustion system, whereby they draw combustion air from the outside. During winter, the outdoor air is dry and less humid. Therefore, by bringing outdoor air inside, your furnace can lower humidity in indoor air and cause allergy and cold symptoms. Sometimes, furnaces can blow dust and allergens into the home and affect the air quality. 

Boilers do not add or remove humidity from your home. Since they use piped water for heating, boilers don't come into direct contact with the air. Thus, as long as there's no inflow of outdoor air into the home, you can maintain humidity at comfortable levels. Furthermore, boilers cannot contaminate the air with pollen, dust, and other allergens.

Heating System Efficiency

Modern boilers and furnaces are incredibly energy efficient. Models with a high annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating can reduce your yearly heating costs. However, heating air is usually less efficient than heating water. Water is a better heat conductor than air; therefore, a boiler is likely to use less energy than a furnace. 

Installation and Retrofit Costs

Both furnaces and boilers can cost a lot of money to install. Furnaces require ductwork, and retrofitting your home to install air ducts can be costly. However, boilers are much more complex and expensive to install, especially in an existing home. Therefore, these two systems work best in new buildings. If you already have a home and are trying to save on installation costs, it's cheaper to work with the existing heating infrastructure.

Consider the above factors when choosing between a boiler and furnace for residential heating. For installation services, contact a heating service.