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Central Heat Smack-Down: Boiler vs. Furnace

Yeah, OK, maybe a “smack-down” is a little over-dramatic. But it’s actually a pretty common discussion around our office… boiler or furnace, which one is better for a house?

First off, definitions. A furnace is a central heat source that heats air and blows it through your house through ducts and registers. A boiler heats water (sometimes steam) and distributes that through the house through piping and radiators.

The case for a boiler: A boiler operates silently. It does not blow air through the house, so there are no drafts. A boiler can be plumbed in to radiant floor heat, which warms your floors. Radiant floor heat is one of the most efficient ways to heat your home. Boilers do not dry out the air in the home, so you’ll end up with a higher relative humidity in the winter.

The case for a furnace: A furnace installation is about half the cost of a boiler installation. Furnaces treat the air, so if you have allergies, you can filter the air to clean allergens out of it. The duct work for a furnace is exactly what is needed for central air conditioning.