Furnaces v. Boilers v. Heat Pumps

By Winters Home Services

At Winters Home Services, we believe strongly in providing customers options. That’s why we install, repair, and maintain a full variety of HVAC systems. When it comes to heaters, our experienced technicians are equipped to service furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps. But with these different options, it can be difficult to pick a system when it comes time for an upgrade. Keep reading for what you need to know about the advantages and disadvantages of furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps, and remember that our HVAC experts at Winters Home Services are always available for your emergency HVAC needs.

The Advantages & Disadvantages of Furnaces, Boilers & Heat Pumps

  • Furnaces: Furnaces continue to be among the most well-known and popular heating systems in America due to their effectiveness and energy efficiency. The AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating of a traditional furnace averaged 78-84%, though the AFUE rating of modern furnaces can be much higher. Furnaces also work extremely quickly when it comes to heating up your home, and are generally fairly priced, due to their prevalence on the market. There are some safety risks with gas and oil furnaces, just as there are with any combustion-based system. Electric furnaces are slightly safer, though they will also increase your energy bill. On the other hand, you may be able to recoup some of those energy losses with an electric system, given that the average gas furnace lasts 16-20 year, while an electricity-powered furnace can have a lifespan of 20-30 years with proper repairs and maintenance. Bottom line: as long as you have a home with compatible ductwork, furnaces are usually a solid heating choice.
  • Boilers: Boilers are similar to furnaces in that they are combustion-based systems that use gas, oil, or electricity to heat your home. The major difference is that unlike furnaces, which transfer heat through air, boilers provide heat by warming water in a tank, and using the steam in that water to then provide heat through your ducts and your pipes. As a result, one of the added bonuses of boilers is that they can replace your water heater. Boilers are also quite energy-efficient, and while the average boiler is required to have an AFUE rating of 80% or higher, modern boilers often have an AFUE rating of 90% or more. Boilers are excellent at providing comprehensive heat to your whole home, and can be easily customized for zone control, plus they can last up to 20 years or more with regular maintenance. Boilers share some of the downsides of furnaces in relation to fuel and they also tend to take up a lot of space (though modern boilers are generally more compact.) In addition, these systems tend to be more prone to leaks as, may take longer to install, and do not heat your home as quickly as furnaces do. They can also have trouble heating larger homes and are not as versatile with existing HVAC systems and ductwork as furnaces are. That said, depending on your needs, these systems are still an excellent heating option.
  • Heat Pumps: Like furnaces and boilers, heat pumps use a heat transfer process to warm up your home. The big difference with heat pumps are that there is no central unit. Instead, there is usually one indoor unit and one outdoor unit, which work together to extract heat from the air outside and use it to heat the inside of your home. The biggest advantages of heat pumps is that they do not require ductwork, and are therefore customizable for many types of homes, and they come with air conditioning in addition to heating capability. What’s more, these systems are top-of-the-line when it comes to energy-efficiency, regularly coming with AFUE ratings of 100%! The big disadvantage of heat pumps is that they may not work as well for homeowners that live in parts of the country where temperatures reach extreme highs or lows. However, modern heat pumps are more powerful than ever, and due to their versatility for bigger and smaller houses with and without ductwork, they are an extremely cost-efficient choice for any homeowner looking to install a new heating system.

To upgrade your heating system or learn more about equipment options today, just call Winters Home Services at (617) 977-3101, or simply click here to send us a message online.