Have you ever wondered which is better for home heating: boiler or furnace? Customers ask Abner Boiler & Heating Company this question all the time. For that reason, we thought it might be helpful to compare the two. That way, you can determine which might be best for you. 

Which Is Better for My Home: Boiler or Furnace?

What’s the Difference?

Both boilers and furnaces warm homes during Wisconsin winters. However, the way they operate differs. Basically, boilers heat with water or oil while furnaces run on hot air.

Boiler water or oil

Furnace hot air and ducts

How Do Furnaces Function?

Furnaces use your home’s air ducts to distribute air throughout the home. Whether gas, electric, or propane, your home’s energy source runs the furnace and forces warm air to cycle through the home. 

Cool air in the home gets sucked through the ductwork and into the furnace. The cool air runs through the furnace filter, gets heated by the home’s energy source, and then returns through the ducts that push the warm air into the home. 

How Do Boilers Function?

As previously mentioned, boilers use water or gas. The boiler operates exactly as its name suggests: it “boils” the liquid, sometimes creating steam, which generates heat. That heat then disburses oftentimes through the baseboards. The water cools as it travels through the pipes until it returns to the boiler for reheating. 

Which Costs More: Boiler or Furnace?

Boilers used to cost more than furnaces. However, this has changed somewhat over time. Still, boilers tend to run higher than furnaces for new purchases and installation.

In addition to the purchase prices, factor in the operational expense. Furnaces can run on gas or electricity, which causes variation in the furnace price by itself. Since several variables exist, we recommend you contact a professional to determine the specifics of your situation. 

Which Is More Energy Efficient?

Electric furnaces are typically the least efficient when it comes to heating a home. That being said, most of today’s furnace and boiler models tout a 95% or better energy efficiency. That’s not bad, no matter the method or model. Finally, the boiler, furnace, and ductwork’s age factor into its efficiency. The older the unit or the location of the ductwork, especially in colder climates, such as Wisconsin, the less efficient.

Overall, boilers historically are more efficient. Additionally, they don’t cause issues with indoor air quality or contribute to allergies, as do furnaces. 

Which System Needs More Maintenance and Repairs?

A boiler could fare better in maintenance and repair costs, but it’s a difficult call to make. Boilers have a long life span, often 15-30 years. The longer life span offsets its higher upfront cost. At the same time, if something goes wrong with a boiler, such as a leak, freezing, or pipe burst, it could result in a pretty big project for you. 

Call the Experts at Abner

Whether you install a new boiler or furnace or need one repaired or serviced, Abner Boiler & Heating Company can meet your needs. Fitchburg, Waunakee, and Madison residents have trusted us for over five decades. We offer expert technicians, 24/7 service, and affordable prices. Give us a call at (608) 274-3077 for all your Heating and HVAC needs.