Could a Boiler Be the Answer for Your Home’s Heating Needs?

Published on: March 17, 2014

Most homes built in the past 20 years had furnaces and ductwork installed for financial reasons – the builder’s finances, not yours. A forced-air furnace with ductwork is relatively inexpensive for a builder to install, but it may not be ideal for you. A new boiler could be a good option for your home, especially if your HVAC system needs to be replaced.

Boilers vs. Furnaces

Boilers employ large tanks of water that are heated to provide heat for your home. The boiler sits on top of a burner (which usually burns natural gas, propane or fuel oil, but can burn wood pellets or even coal). The heat either heats water and sends that through pipes, or creates steam and sends that through radiators. A boiler needs hydronic pipes, radiators or radiant tubing to distribute the heat evenly through a home. Since copper piping is far more expensive than aluminum ductwork, furnaces and ductwork are more common, especially in the Southeast where winters are relatively mild.

Boilers are far more common in colder climates, but that doesn’t mean a boiler is not right for you. They have distinct advantages over furnaces:

  • Boilers are nearly whisper quiet compared to the sounds of blowing air in ductwork
  • Boilers heat evenly, providing all areas within a heating zone the same ambient heat without hot and cold spots
  • Radiant heat is more comfortable and generally more humidified than forced-air heating.


Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is used to compare the heating efficiency furnace and boilers. Suppose your old furnace is operating at 60 percent AFUE and you wish to replace it with an Energy Star qualified gas-fired, hot water boiler with a minimum AFUE of 82 percent. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates you will save approximately $25 out of every $100 you spend on fuel every year by making the switch to the more efficient system. Saving 25 percent of your fuel costs every year will allow you to recover the investment costs of the system quickly. (Of course, you’ll also reap savings by upgrading to a higher-efficiency furnace.)

To locate a contractor who can assist you with your Southeast U.S. home’s boiler choices, please contact us to find a reliable contractor in your area.