The Difference Between a Furnace and a Boiler

Jan 29 ,2013

Furnace RepairMost homes use either a furnace or a boiler to provide home heating, so knowing the basic operating differences and advantages will help you determine which system is right for your home. Our professionals at Northern’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning can service your boiler or perform furnace repair on a both new and old systems.

A furnace heats air and sends warm air through ducts and vents into your home. On the other hand, a boiler heats water and sends warm water through your pipes to steam radiators or radiant floor systems. There are two types of boilers: hot water boilers and steam boilers. Hot water boilers provide heat by sending hot water through pipes, while steam boilers send steam.

Both heating systems require some type of fuel such as gas, propane, electricity, or oil to supply heat. Gas is the most common fuel used due to lower fuel and operating costs, except in remote areas where gas access is difficult.

New furnaces are required to have a minimum AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating of 78%, meaning that the furnace must turn 78% of its fuel into heat. AFUE ratings range from 78-98.2%, and furnaces with a rating of 90% or higher are considered high efficiency models.

New boilers have an AFUE rating that measures how efficiently the boiler converts energy into fuel. For instance, an AFUE of 95% means that 95% of the fuel is converted into heat and the other 5% escapes. A higher AFUE rating means a more efficient boiler.

Although furnaces have many energy-efficient features such as sealed combustion, condensing features, and variable speeds, boilers offer many advantages such as lower operating costs over time, easier installation, lower maintenance, cleaner and more humid air, and virtual silence.

With a furnace or boiler system, regular maintenance by a reputable Minneapolis heating company is important to ensure optimal performance and avoid an unexpected boiler or furnace repair. If you would like more information on furnace installation or help with your heating system, please call Northern’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning at 763-412-1197.

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