Boiler Heat vs Forced Air Heat

A boiler in a basement.

When choosing a heating system for your home, a boiler is a classic option with many advantages. However, forced air heat is also a popular option. So which is the best way to heat your home? The truth is, while both come with many advantages and disadvantages, neither is measurably better. When choosing between a boiler and a forced air heating system, you will have to consider your home's individual needs, as well as your personal preferences. When you compare the pros and cons of the heating systems available to what you need from a heating system, you will be able to make the best choice.

Boiler Heat Pros

Boilers are popular for a reason. They are efficient heating systems with many practical advantages.

Boilers can be used in combination with radiant heat. In a radiant heat system, hot water is circulated through walls, floors, or ceilings, causing the edges of the rooms in your home to radiate heat.

A boiler can also be used as a water heater. This can be complicated and involves some additional work, but it's possible in many situations.

Boilers are more efficient than forced air heating systems. In practice, forced air heating systems lose a great deal of the heat they generate as they pass hot air over cold ducts and cold air. In contrast, boilers lose very little of the heat they generate. This saves you money on your energy bills, as well as reducing your home's energy consumption. It even makes your home heat up faster, as forced air heating systems must first heat the air in the ducts and the ducts themselves before they can successfully heat your home.

Boiler Heat Cons

Boilers, unfortunately, have some downsides. In terms of fuel, they can be impractical. Natural gas, the best fuel for any boiler system, is not available in all locations. While there are alternatives to natural gas, they are definitely inferior. Propane is an option, but it's more expensive, less clean, and requires regular deliveries. Electricity is a possible power source, but it comes with problems as well. Electricity is even more expensive and less efficient than fossil fuels. Unless you have your own source of clean electricity, your electricity comes from a power plant that releases just as many greenhouse gases as the fuel you burn.

Forced Air Pros

Forced air heating systems often come pre-installed in many homes. This means that the basic systems required for them are common and may already be present in your home, saving you the time, money, and inconvenience of having them installed. Routine maintenance on forced air systems is usually simple. Changing air filters is quite easy.

Forced Air Cons

There are many downsides to forced air heating systems. They require ducts for hot air and diffusers and ducts to return cool air, all of which require skilled labor to install, making them expensive to start up. Hot air loses heat as it's transported about your house, particularly as your heater warms up.