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Boilers vs. Furnaces: What Should You Install in Your Home?

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Heating is an essential part of any home, especially in cold climates. Homeowners have various heating options, the most common being boilers and furnaces. Each system has advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right one for your home depends on various factors.

Boilers and furnaces are two of the most popular home heating systems. Both are designed to heat your home but work differently; boilers use water to distribute heat, while furnaces use air. Understanding how each system works can help you choose the best option for your home. Few people know how they work, so we will discuss the details in this article.

How Boilers Work

Boilers are heating systems that use water to distribute heat throughout a home. They work by heating water in a storage tank circulated through pipes, radiators, or baseboard heaters. As the hot water flows through the pipes, it gives off heat, warming the air in the room. Various sources, including natural gas, propane, oil, and electricity, can fuel boilers. The fuel source is used to heat the water in the storage tank, circulated through the home’s heating system.

However, it’s worth noting that some boilers also use steam instead of hot water to distribute heat. These systems are called steam boilers and work similarly to hot water boilers but use steam instead of water to heat the home.

How Furnaces Work

Furnaces are heating systems that use air to distribute heat throughout a home. They work by pulling in cold air from the house and passing it through a filter, removing dust or debris. The air is then heated by a burner using natural gas, propane, oil, or electricity. The heated air is then blown through a system of ducts and vents, which distribute the warm air throughout the home.

Furnaces also have a thermostat, which controls the home’s temperature by turning the furnace on and off as needed. When the temperature drops below the desired level, the thermostat signals the furnace to turn on and heat the air. Once the temperature reaches the desired level, the thermostat signals the furnace to turn off.

How Are They Different?

Boilers and furnaces have several differences that can affect your decision when choosing a heating system for your home. These include:

Heating Capacity

Boilers and furnaces can have different heating capacities. Furnaces typically have a higher heating capacity and are better suited for larger homes or spaces with high heating demands. Conversely, boilers are better suited for smaller homes or spaces with lower heating demands.


Furnaces are typically larger than boilers, affecting where they can be installed in your home. Furnaces often require a dedicated room or closet, while boilers can be installed in various locations, including closets, basements, and utility rooms.

Repair and Maintenance

Repair and maintenance matters for boilers and furnaces because they require regular upkeep to ensure they work efficiently and safely. Boilers should be serviced annually to prevent breakdowns and ensure proper function, while furnaces should be serviced at least once every two years.

Safety Measures

Both boilers and furnaces can pose safety risks if not properly maintained and operated. 

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a potential danger with both heating systems if there is a malfunction or blockage in the exhaust vent. For this reason, you must have CO detectors installed in your home and to have your heating system inspected regularly to prevent CO leaks.

Cost Comparison

Boilers are generally more expensive to install than furnaces, but they can be more efficient and have a longer lifespan. However, boilers may require frequent maintenance and repairs, adding to the overall cost.

In contrast, furnaces are typically less expensive to install and require less frequent maintenance. However, they may not be as efficient as boilers and must be replaced more often, which can add to the overall cost in the long run.

What Should You Choose?

Choosing between a boiler and a furnace depends on several factors, including your home’s size, budget, and energy needs. A boiler may be better for a large home or high ceilings because it can distribute heat more efficiently. In contrast, a furnace may be better with limited space or a smaller budget.

You should also consider your energy needs. If you want a heating system that is more environmentally friendly and has lower operating costs over time, a boiler may be the better option. In contrast, a furnace may be the better option if you want a heating system that is less expensive to install but has higher operating costs over time.


Boilers and furnaces are excellent options for heating any home. However, one must carefully consider their specific needs and budget before deciding which option is ideal, especially since it will be used in the long term. All that matters is choosing a heating system that meets your energy needs and budget to maximize it for your home.

Climate Experts provides top-quality services for boiler installation in Durham. Our heating specialists will ensure your home’s heating system is in optimal condition for maximum comfort and efficiency. Request a free estimate today!

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