Residential boilers might seem like antiquated option for central heating. However, they can actually be a great solution for pretty much any building. Furnaces are definitely the preferred heating source for most buildings with central heating for a number of reasons. But, boilers still have certain advantages over furnaces. This article compares furnaces and boilers.
Fuel and Energy Efficiency
First of all, it is important to realize, that as far as efficiency goes, you can find both boilers and furnaces that use energy efficient fuels and have Energy Star approved ratings. That is, both can be equally gas and electricity efficient. Whenever you are shopping for either, refer to the AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) and SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) ratings. These two standardized ratings are used on every boil or furnace system. They will basically tell you how efficient the units are when it comes to burning fuel (AFUE), and how well they can heat your rooms (SEER).
Operational and Practical Differences
The main differences between furnaces and boilers are more operational and practical. It definitely comes down to a matter of personal preference over anything else. For instance, furnaces work by heating and air and then using large fans to blow that air into the rooms. This creates airflow that can be drafty, it can dry out your skin, and it can circulate dust and allergens all over. Basically, it can cause a few small problems for certain homes.
However, boilers don't circulate any air. Rather, they heat up water and then circulate it through pipes that are inside the walls, except for the mounted radiators. Radiant heat obviously doesn't create a strong airflow, and many homeowners like this.
Another great thing about boilers is that almost every room can have its own wall-mounted radiator from where the occupant can control the local temperature with ease. That is, you can turn it up in one room, and down in another. This usually works very efficiently, and it is easier than the adjusting air registers, which are often harder to reach and high up on the walls.
In reality, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding between a central boiler or furnace. Either can be a great choice for your home, you just need to decide which is going to be the most the most affordable and practical for your day to day usage requirements.