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Boiler vs. Furnace: Everything You Need to Know

Jan 25, 2022

It’s wintertime and the last thing anyone wants this time of year is for the home to face heating problems. Unfortunately, we can’t control the lifespans of our home’s heating system, so the next best thing we can do is be ready to repair or replace it. If a full replacement is required, it can be overwhelming to know which option is the very best. Many debate boiler vs furnace or boiler heat vs forced air, but which is actually better? Is a boiler or furnace more efficient?

How Does a Boiler Work?

One of the first things to note about boilers is that there is more than one type of boiler. There are two, hot water and steam. The difference There are two different types of boilers: steam and hot water. Steam boilers operate by sending heat through the pipes to the steam radiators. Hot water boilers, on the other hand, send heat through baseboard radiators or sometimes via radiant flooring.

How Does a Furnace Work?

Furnaces work a little differently. They use air to send heat into all areas of the house and can be run on oil, propane, electricity or natural gas. The furnace heats the air first, then blows it through the ducts located in your home that lead to registers or vents. These are usually found on the floors or ceilings of a home.

Boiler Pros


A big selling point of boilers is the fact that they never require filter changes. A boiler doesn’t use filters at all so there isn’t even a need to clean filters either. This is not to say that you should skip your annual checkup though.

High-Quality Air

One of the most important things to consider when shopping around for a new heating system is the quality of air that you will receive. This really comes into play if you have family members who may experience allergies or asthma. Boilers use water to heat the air so dust and allergens don’t get through vents like they would through a furnace.


Since boilers use water to heat, there’s no air to gusts happening, which means things are a lot quieter. If for some reason, your boiler is being noisy, you should reach out to a professional as that could mean there is damage to it.

Furnace Pros

Easy Installation

Compared to boilers, furnaces are much easier to install. An average furnace install would take around a few hours, whereas a boiler would take a few days. Just remember that easy installation doesn’t mean you can skip routine maintenance.

Affordable Option

Another benefit of easy installation is that it saves on cost. But furnaces save money on more than just installation. They are also just cheaper to operate. Typically, including installation furnaces cost between $2,000-$4,000.

No Fear of Freezing

Possibly the biggest pro for furnaces is that there is no worry of freezing. Since boilers use water to heat, the pipes can potentially freeze if the power goes out in the home. There is also a chance that those frozen pipes could burst if exposed to freezing temperatures for an extended period.

Boiler Cons

Slow Temperature Changes

If you are looking for a heating system that will change the temperature quickly, a boiler is probably not for you. Boilers take much longer to change temperatures than a furnace would due to it having to heat the water before heating the house.


Average boilers, whether hot water or steam, cost between $2,500-$4,500 including installation, but if you are looking to get a high-efficiency boiler, those will run much higher, around $5,000-$10,000. One thing to note is that hot water boilers tend to be slightly more efficient than steam boilers and usually cost less to operate.

Leak Issues

A leak in a heating system is not an uncommon issue, however, when the heating system is a boiler it can become quite a problem. If a boiler gets a leak it can ruin floors or ceilings very quickly. This is why it’s crucial to get annual inspections to ensure everything is up to code.

Furnace Cons


Overall heating with air instead of water is just less efficient. On top of that, furnaces burn through fuel fairly quickly, which will increase energy costs by a large amount typically. When compared to a boiler, there’s no denying that the furnace is the least efficient option.


Air blowing around in air ducts and vents can be pretty loud. A boiler is quieter since it uses water. All furnaces are loud enough that you will be able to hear it kick on and off without much effort. If noise is something that bothers you, a boiler is probably better for you and your home.

Low heat consistency

You may find that if you currently have a furnace that some points of your house are warmer than others. This happens because forced-air heat tends to not be very consistent by nature. Additionally, many homes that feature furnaces will find that they tend to have drier air than homes with boilers.

Boiler vs. Furnace: Which is Best?

When deciding between a boiler and a furnace you have to consider what’s most important to you. If you’re looking for an affordable option, furnaces are cheaper and cheaper to install. If you’re looking for a long-term system for your forever home, a boiler costs less to operate in the long run. If you’re focused on a quieter, low-maintenance option, then a boiler could be a better fit.

Still Debating Between a Boiler or a Furnace?

If you’re still wondering, “Is a boiler better than a furnace?”, don’t hesitate to reach out to our expert team at CroppMetcalfe. We are here to help you with all of your big home decisions so your family can enjoy your home to the fullest. Schedule a visit online or give us a call at 888-304-0678.



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