When you first decide that you’ll need a new heating system for a new home or a replacement heating system for an older one, there is a lot to think over. Typically, in colder parts of the country, the options narrow down to two main categories: furnaces and boilers. Furnaces are forced-air heating systems, meaning they warm up the air in your home and send it through the ducts and to your vents. This is very different from the way a boiler works. Radiant heating, rather than forced-air heating, uses a large tank to heat water and send it through a set of pipes leading throughout your home. So which is the better system? Like any major decision in HVAC, that will depend on your home and your particular needs.
Furnaces Are Cost-Effective for Most Homes
Most homes already have ductwork in them, which means a furnace (or a heat pump, in a warmer climate) is probably ideal as far as your budget is concerned. There’s no need to make any renovations, so you only pay for the actual heating system as long as you already have a set of ducts in your home. If you have a new home or a renovation, it is still beneficial to add ductwork if you plan on installing a whole-house air conditioner (although ductless AC systems are available). So a furnace may still be the more cost-effective option. Besides, today’s furnaces are more efficient than ever before, and modern units operate safely as well (when properly installed and maintained).
Boilers Hold Up Better in the Long-Term
A boiler, however, may be the better choice for your home. Most people with boilers swear by the advanced comfort levels of a radiant heating system. Instead of heating the air, boilers send hot water throughout the home. Water is better for heat transfer than the air, and heat efficiently transfers directly to the people and objects in a room. That means the heat does not leave the living space as quickly as it does with a forced-air furnace. And because it does not take so much effort to pump water through a home, many people experience lower bills with a modern-day boiler than they would with a furnace. However, this depends on home size, the size of your boiler
How Do You Decide?
Either system may be the right choice for your home and your family. You’ll need to give careful consideration to the layout of your home and what you can afford now and in the long-term.
Assess your home. If you have ductwork and a limited budget, it’s not going to be worth it to switch to a boiler. However, if you’re starting from scratch, or if you have boiler pipes in place already, you can’t go wrong with an ENERGY STAR boiler that keeps you warmer more efficiently for longer.
Call a technician. Finally, the most important advice of all: before you make any decision to change your home’s heating system, call in for a heating technician’s help. They have the background and expertise to select the right system and get it installed in a timely manner.
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