Most homes are heated by a boiler or furnace. In Charlottesville, Virginia, heating accounts for nearly half of your family’s residential energy cost, so it’s important to determine which heating option to choose: a boiler or a furnace.
Aren’t Boilers and Furnaces Similar?
Boilers and furnaces are heating systems. Both appliances generate heat in a central location before distributing it throughout the house. Both heating systems have three main components:
- Heat Source – The appliance that generates warmth
- Heat Distribution System – The network of pipes or air ducts that conducts warm air
- Control System – The control system, usually a thermostat, that regulates how much heat to distribute
Which appliance will last longer, boiler or furnace?
Furnaces and boilers have about the same life expectancy of 15 to 25 years.
What are the fuel options for boilers and furnaces?
Each can be fueled with natural gas, heating oil, wood, electricity, or other fuel sources.
How Are Boilers and Furnaces Different?
The fundamental difference between a boiler and a furnace is what substance they heat and how they distribute it.
Furnaces heat air and distribute it through ducts until it reaches vents, where it is released into the rooms of your home.
Boilers heat water and distribute it through connected pipes, either as hot water or steam. Hot water passes into baseboard radiators. Steam passes into steam radiators, usually one or more per room.
Which costs more, a boiler or furnace?
Furnaces tend to cost less to purchase but can be more expensive to operate. Boilers are more expensive, but they tend to save you money over the long run because they enable you to heat only the rooms or zones of your house you’re using. This is called zone heating.
Which provides better air quality, a boiler or furnace?
Boilers provide better air quality than furnaces. A furnace heats your home with warm air, which also circulates dust, allergens, and other airborne particles throughout each room.
Which is the better option for cold climates, a boiler or furnace?
By now, you may be leaning towards buying a boiler, especially if dust and pollen trigger allergies for family members. Just remember, boilers require a minimum temperature to prevent pipes from freezing, which is an important difference between a boiler and a furnace. Be sure to keep this in mind if you live in an area where temperatures often dip below freezing.
How does heating efficiency compare between a boiler and a furnace?
When comparing the difference between a boiler and a furnace, consider efficiency as well as purchase price. Choosing an efficient heating system can lower your monthly energy costs significantly. For this reason, paying a higher price to purchase an efficient heating system is often a wise investment that can offset paying more upfront.
Whether you’re shopping for a boiler or furnace, heating efficiency is easy to compare because it is measured the same way: AFUE. That stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. AFUE quantifies how effective the appliance is in converting the energy in its fuel to heat over the course of a typical year. It is shown as a percentage. A perfect score would be 100%.
Heating efficiency varies by age (older appliances tend to be less efficient). Old, low-efficiency systems are in the 56%-70% AFUE range. Mid-efficiency heating systems score 80%-90% AFUE, while high-efficiency heating systems exceed 90% AFUE.
When shopping for high-efficiency furnaces and boilers, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. If you live in a cold climate, consider buying the highest-efficiency system available.
Ask the Charlottesville HVAC Professionals at Fitch Services
Not sure what the best option is for heating your Charlottesville, Va., home? With all the variables to consider, making a decision can be difficult. Whether you’re building a new house or buying a new boiler or furnace for your existing home, a Fitch Services heating professional can walk you through the pros and cons of all your options. Call (434) 296-9980, or use our contact form to schedule a FREE in-home appointment.