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Boilers and Furnaces: Is There a Clear Choice for Homes?


It’s always a relief to know that you’re making the right decision. Especially when it comes to something that’s a big investment, like a heating system. It would be so good to know which one would definitely be the exact right choice.

Is there a correct choice when it comes to boilers and furnaces? Measured side by side, would one of them come out on top? It’s a little more complex than that.


While either system provides adequate warmth, it’s easier to achieve even heating with a boiler. Furnaces can create a bit of a challenge with the distribution of heat. And there’s no denying that radiant floor heating, which can be done with a boiler, is the ultimate comfort for your feet. However, it takes longer for a boiler to bring a home’s temperature up when it’s been set lower than usual to reduce energy use while you’re away.


Getting a new boiler and having it installed is, on average, more expensive than an electric furnace, which in turn is more expensive than a gas furnace. However, there are other factors at play that can cost or save you money, so it may not be as simple as that sounded.


How long these systems last is a major factor in their overall cost to you, though it may take quite a while to recoup the money spent on a larger up-front investment. While a gas furnace typically runs for around 15 years and an electric one for 20, a well-maintained boiler can keep chugging along for 30 years!


Boilers can provide the same amount of heating for a lower energy cost than gas furnaces. Gas furnaces are cheaper to run than electric furnaces because, despite the efficiency of these electric systems, electricity is a more costly fuel source than natural gas. However, if you have an alternate source of electricity, like solar panels, that would make electricity your lowest-cost option.

Why are boilers generally more efficient than gas or electric furnaces? One major reason is that they don’t rely on ductwork. Damaged and degraded ducts are shockingly common. In fact, it’s estimated that 30% of heated air is lost through holes and cracks in ductwork before it gets to its destination in the average American home. Boilers sidestep this issue altogether by not using ducts.


The bottom line: if all you’re looking for is a new heating system for an existing home, is that it’s probably less costly to use the same type of system you’ve already had in place. This is because all the required infrastructure—baseboard registers or in-floor piping for a boiler, or ductwork for a furnace—is already there.

But what if you’re having a new home built, or are already undertaking major renovations, or are willing to make a big change in order to get the ideal heating system for your home? You’ll have to consider which of these factors is most important to you, and then have a conversation with a technician who can help you take the specifics of your home into account. 

Are you ready to have a conversation about the benefits of a boiler vs. furnace in Winnetka, IL? We’d love to chat with you.

Contact ServiceMax with any questions about heating systems.

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