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What’s the Difference Between a Boiler and a Furnace?

What's the Difference Between a Boiler and a Furnace?Homeowners in the market for a new heating system may be wondering what the difference is between a furnace and boiler. While both can be efficient at warming your home understanding how they each work, along with the pros and cons, can help you choose the right system for your situation.

What Does a Furnace Do?

Furnaces create heat in a heat exchanger and then use a blower to distribute the heated, filtered air by way of ductwork connected to vents throughout the home. This is also referred to as “forced-air” and is one of the most popular heating systems. Furnaces can operate with several different fuel sources, including natural gas, propane, oil, electricity and wood. A new gas furnace with a high (90% or better) AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating is one of the most efficient heating systems available.

Furnaces range in size, price and features, depending on your needs.

What Does a Boiler Do?

Boilers heat water and then send the hot water through pipes to heat floors, baseboards or walls. This is also known as “radiant heat” because the heat radiates from the pipes into the home. Boiler systems have been gaining popularity because they don’t require the installation and maintenance of ductwork, and they don’t use as much fuel as a forced air furnace.

Boilers also use a variety of heat sources, including gas, oil and electricity.

Conventional boilers can heat a home quickly and are often paired with radiant heat flooring. Sealed systems convert the hot water to steam; they are eco-friendly and are good for homes of any size. Hydronic air handlers work with tankless water systems. Radiators are an older method of distributing heat using water, but are still effective.

Which is Best?

When choosing between a furnace and a boiler, consider what fuel sources are available in your area. Then, look at the AFUE rating for each option and type of fuel. Evaluate purchase price and also operating costs, which are impacted by the fuel efficiency of the unit over its lifetime. Other considerations are installation costs, space required, maintenance and repair costs, and expected lifespan.

Indoor Air Quality is here to assist with all your HVAC needs. Contact us today! We serve homes in Highlands Ranch and throughout the Denver Metro Area.

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