Boiler vs. Furnace | Which is Better for Your Home?

A long-running debate has been going on between furnaces and boilers, and now you have the chance to decide which is better, and learn how they differ, as well as their benefits and disadvantages. Here, you’ll find answers to the following questions:

Does a boiler cost more than a furnace? Do boilers last longer than furnaces? Which kind of heater should I get? Let’s get started!

What are the Differences Between a Furnace and a Boiler?

Furnaces and boilers are often mistaken as the same thing since they have one common goal: to heat indoor spaces. Their thermostats detect temperature changes, which acts as a trigger to start their engines. Despite this similarity, these two systems differ in how they produce heat.

Furnaces use propane, gas, oil, or electricity as fuel to heat their burners. This generated heat passes through a heat exchanger and warms the air in the ductwork. Then, the blowers of a furnace blast the warm air throughout the home.

Meanwhile, boilers burn oil, gas, or coal to heat the water in their compartment. This heated water retains its liquid form or becomes steam and travels to the radiators in each room of a house.

Having an idea of how boilers and furnaces work can be enlightening, but it doesn’t answer which is better. Knowing the pros and cons of each heating system will help you figure that out.

Pros & Cons of Boiler Heat


Energy Efficient

High annual fuel utilization energy (AFUE) is a measurement that determines the heat produced for fuel consumed. In the case of boilers, they have an AFUE rating starting at 87% because they generate large amounts of heated water with little energy.

Water has a higher heat conductivity than air since its molecules are closer, so boilers heat up quickly and create the best temperature for sleeping indoors. Because of this, you don’t have to worry about high energy costs.


Good Air Quality

Boiler heat produces good quality air, however, because the heating system doesn't create forced air but radiates into the existing air instead, the air can become stale and lack movement. To improve air quality, invest in a ventilation system that will help circulate the air and keep the air fresh. Additionally, open windows regularly to let fresh air in.


Takes up a Lot of Space

A boiler setup requires a separate room with adequate space since it has enormous dimensions. That’s why most boilers are in a basement or an unused room in the house.


Unlike a furnace, boilers are more costly due to their installation. This intricate process requires accurate room measurements, ordering of particular parts, and procuring building permits. On top of that, you also need to consider the labor fees of the installers.

Boiler Corrosion and Regular Descaling

Boilers can develop water leaks that cause corrosion, which creates deep holes in the heating system's metal parts. These cavities can grow big and be the reason for a boiler’s breakdown if left untreated.

Safety Concerns

The central component of a boiler’s heating system is comprised of pipes that distribute water or liquid at scalding temperatures. This can be dangerous because if the system is not properly maintained and there is a leak, it can cause serious injury to anyone in the vicinity. To prevent this, regular inspections and maintenance should be conducted to ensure that the system is in good condition.

Pros & Cons of Furnace Heat



When it comes to AFUE energy ratings, most furnaces, especially gas types, have scores starting at 95%. This number proves their excellent energy efficiency since 95% of the fuel is converted into heat. In turn, the AFUE scores of furnaces are attractive to consumers because the high values indicate less waste of money and fuel used.


In terms of costs, furnaces are cheaper than boilers since the former is more commonly used. You can find plenty of different furnace models with various price tags, but none of them exceed the value of a boiler. On top of that, furnaces have lower installation prices that can fit your budget. Among all of them, gas models are the most economical to run in peak winter, even with rising gas prices.


Variety and Versatility

As mentioned previously, there are different furnace options to choose from, such as gas, oil, propane, and electric models. When it comes to comparing versatility, installation and repair ease, gas furnaces come out on top again. This is because components are affordable to replace, particularly with Napoleon’s 9600 Series furnace, which features a modular design for quick and effective repairs.

Last Longer Than a Boiler

When it comes to longevity, a furnace beats the boiler since the former can last up to 15 to 20 years. If maintained well, furnaces can last even longer than their expected lifespan.


Potential for Dry Air Quality

Dry air is common in furnaces because it reuses the air inside your house for heat generation. This removes the moisture from the air and reduces the humidity indoors. Fortunately, this problem is solvable since there are different ways to add moisture to your home.

Requires Some Maintenance

Like any appliance, furnaces require some regular attention and maintenance to run smoothly. Alongside annual checkups, the vents, blowers, and furnace ducts need to be cleaned regularly; filter replacement is also necessary. These are needed to prevent the most common types of air pollutants.

The Final Verdict

Furnaces and boilers are heating systems that provide warmth to your home, but furnaces tend to be a better choice. Based on their AFUE scores, furnaces are more energy-efficient since only a little fuel is used for heating. What makes this heating system even more attractive is its affordability and energy-efficiency.

Additionally, furnaces come in a compact and boxy size, making them easy to fit anywhere in your home.

The Napoleon Difference

If you’re looking for the perfect furnace, Napoleon has the most reliable gas furnaces, with AFUE ratings starting at 95%! Our products are made from top-quality materials and excellent technology, so saving energy costs won’t be a problem.

The best part is that Napoleon gas furnaces can be matched with the Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pumps (ccASHP), which is a dual-heating system that gives the homeowner the power to choose the source of energy depending on the utility rates at the time. When gas prices are more economical, it will heat the home with gas—and vice versa for electricity.

In the summer, the electrical components can even act as an air conditioner to cool your home! It’s a win-win-win situation.

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