Comparing boilers and furnaces

Choosing the best method for heating the home is essential in my local area.

We rely on the heating system for the majority of the year.

It needs to handle temperatures down to twenty-below zero and provide effective and energy efficient comfort. Before choosing the style of equipment for our new construction build, my husband and I looked into different options and considered the pros and cons. Our debate came down to either a furnace or a boiler. A boiler uses hot water to heat the home while a furnace uses hot air. While either one can operate on natural gas, oil or electricity, a furnace heats up air and sends it through a duct system by way of a blower. The boiler requires a pump to send the water to any combination of radiators, baseboard heaters and/or radiant flooring systems. By eliminating the blower, radiant heating is typically more gentle and comfortable. Boilers operate silently and due to very few moving parts, require little to no maintenance. The air filters in the furnaces should be replaced every month and annual upkeep from a professional is necessary. A furnace costs less to install and eliminates the chance of freezing during a winter power outage. However, ductwork spreads dust, dander and other allergens into the breathing air and can sacrifice up to 30% of heated air to leaks. Hydronic heating doesn’t dry out the air, doesn’t need ductwork and provides better air quality. This type of heating is more consistent in floor to ceiling temperature and allows the easy setup of zone control. My husband and I ended up choosing a boiler linked to radiant flooring throughout the house. We have been totally satisfied with it.

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