Take a survey of your neighbors, and you’ll find that the vast majority of them have furnaces as their heating sources. In the United States, furnaces by far outrank boilers, but that gap is slowly closing.
Furnaces do have one clear advantage over boilers: They’re more affordable (at first). If you look solely at the cost of furnaces versus boilers, furnaces come out on top and probably always will. However, there’s much more to a heating source than just the initial upfront cost.
For starters, boilers can have a longer life span than furnaces. They’re virtually maintenance-free, which narrows the price disparity, since you’ll likely be paying for more repairs and replacements with a furnace when compared to a boiler.
Plus, since boilers can last longer than furnaces, they won’t need to be replaced as often. This can completely close the price gap between the two in a period of 15 years. It requires planning far ahead, but it’s often well worth it.
Two Ways to Keep Warm
One major difference between furnaces and boilers is how they heat your home. Furnaces can only use forced air — pushing hot air through vents. Vents are usually located on the floor or on the wall close to the floor. They can be blocked easily by curtains or furniture, making your furnace work overtime while wasting resources and money.
Plus, forced air heat rises. If you have vaulted or high ceilings, your furnace might be working extra hard attempting to heat your ceiling. Forced hot air also can escape through poorly insulated windows and doors.
However, boilers use radiant heat. Small tubes in your floors (or sometimes in the walls) radiate heat from the ground up. The floor is warm to the touch (you control the exact temperature), and it’s comfortable to walk around barefoot in the winter. Plus, radiant heat stays closer to the ground, where you really want it. There’s no attempt to heat ceilings with radiant heat.
Since a furnace’s forced air is blowing dust and allergens around, that can be problematic for those with severe allergies or breathing issues. You don’t have this concern with a boiler, which makes boilers nearly a requirement for those with severe allergies — and a great plus for homeowners who simply don’t like dust being blown about. Having a boiler can even mean less cleaning, since you’re not constantly chasing after dust particles.
All types of heating sources have upsides, but more and more Americans are falling in love with boilers. Is it the right solution for you? Call Roberts Mechanical today to learn more about boilers and find out.