Furnace vs. Boiler

The great debate of a furnace vs. a boiler can feel like a complex one. In our article, we’ll do a weigh-in and compare the differences between both boilers and furnaces based on upfront cost, operating costs, efficiency, lifespan, and overall ability to keep your home as comfortable and toasty as possible. Let’s do a thorough examination to see which is best for your home.

And for more customized solutions, non-obligatory quotes, and information about our discounts and financing options, book a consultation appointment with a home comfort advisor at Haven Home!

What is a boiler?

A boiler is a household appliance that plays a crucial role in providing central heating and hot water for homes. It's a bit like the heart of a home's heating system. Boilers work by heating water, which is then circulated through pipes to radiators or underfloor heating systems throughout the house. The heat from the water warms up the radiators, which in turn release heat into the rooms, creating a cozy and comfortable indoor environment.

Boilers are quite efficient at heating homes, especially in colder climates, because they can provide consistent warmth across different areas. The efficiency of a boiler is often measured by its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating, which indicates the percentage of energy converted into heat. Modern boilers can have impressive AFUE ratings, often above 90%, which means they waste very little energy. To maintain the efficiency and reliability of a boiler, regular maintenance is important. This can include tasks like checking the water pressure, cleaning or replacing filters, and ensuring proper ventilation. By taking good care of your boiler, you can ensure that it continues to work efficiently and keeps your home warm and comfortable throughout the colder months.

What is a furnace?

A gas-powered furnace is a key component of a home's heating system. It's designed to generate heat by burning natural gas, which produces hot air that is then distributed throughout the house to keep it warm. Furnaces are commonly used in areas with colder climates, as they are capable of providing rapid and widespread heating.

Furnaces may also be measured by their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE, which represents how much of energy from natural gas they can convert into usable heat. Modern gas furnaces often have higher AFUE ratings, often exceeding 95%.

A gas-powered furnace, in short, is an effective and efficient way to heat a home, offering quick and widespread warmth. Proper maintenance is key to keeping it running efficiently and ensuring the safety and comfort of your home during colder periods.

Is it better to have a boiler or a furnace?

Choosing between a boiler and a furnace is dependent on various factors, like heating preferences, energy efficiency goals, and overall budget.

Boilers are known for their even and consistent heat distribution, making them a great choice for maintaining a comfortable and cozy environment. They are especially advantageous in areas with colder climates where the steady warmth from radiators or underfloor heating can be particularly appreciated. Boilers are also considered efficient because they don't require as much energy to maintain a desired temperature once they've warmed up. However, they can be more expensive to install initially and might require more maintenance to ensure proper operation.

On the other hand, furnaces are designed for quick heating and are well-suited for areas where temperatures can drop drastically. The forced-air distribution system of furnaces can warm up rooms rapidly, making them ideal for spaces that need to be heated on short notice. While furnaces might not provide the same level of consistent warmth as boilers, they can be more cost-effective upfront and are often easier to install. However, they might require more frequent air filter changes and can be less energy-efficient over time compared to well-maintained boilers.

The choice “boils” down to your needs ultimately, as well as your preferences. Consulting with heating professionals may ensure you gain more valuable insights into which system best aligns with the requirements of your home, budget constraints, and energy goals.

For customizable solutions tailored to your needs, we suggest booking an at-home consultation appointment with a home comfort advisor from Haven Home! During this time, you’ll receive a complimentary new system purchase quote and more information about our current discounts and financing options!

Do you have a furnace if you have a boiler?

If your home has air vents or ductwork, then it probably has a furnace. If you don’t have this, you likely have a boiler, and will likely have either baseboard of full size radiators. Usually it’s one or the other, and very seldom both together. It is (technically) possible to have both in a larger home or even a commercial building with a complex heating system.The combination may be referred to as a dual heating system and presents a versatile approach to ensuring indoor comfort for everyone.

Using both a boiler and a furnace in conjunction allows homeowners to take advantage of the strengths of each system. For instance, a boiler's radiant heat can create a cozy atmosphere, while a furnace's forced-air system can quickly raise the indoor temperature. This flexibility can be especially valuable in regions with extreme weather conditions.

However, it's worth noting that having both systems can be more complex to install and maintain, and it might involve higher upfront costs. If you're considering a dual heating system, consulting with heating professionals can help you determine the best configuration for your specific needs and preferences.

Why choose a boiler over a furnace?

There are a few reasons why a homeowner might choose to have a boiler rather than a furnace. A boiler can have up to a 95% AFUE, which is less than that of a furnace in some cases (particularly with more high-end models) but it uses a variety of fuel sources, such as natural gas, oil, propane, electricity, and even wood pellets. Where a furnace will circulate airborne pollutants through a filter, there is the risk of leaks - that a boiler avoids, since it doesn’t circulate pollutants. It involves zero ductwork (so it removes that aspect of installation) and it uses draft-free radiant heat. There’s typically less maintenance involved for a boiler.

That being said, boilers do have a higher upfront cost than a furnace, which can be a deciding point for many homeowners. Altogether, we really advise you to ask a home comfort advisor what they believe may be most optimal for your home and your household’s comfort during a complimentary, in-home consultation appointment.