Furnace, Boiler, Heat Pump—Which is Best?

water heater boiler flames

If you are in the market to buy a new furnace, boiler, or heat pump, you need to know the differences, so you make the right decision for your home and needs.

What is a Furnace?

A furnace is an enclosed heating unit that heats air by transferring heat in a metal combustion chamber to the air and circulating it throughout heating ducts in the house. Furnaces can run on electricity, natural gas, propane or fuel oil.

What is a Boiler?

A boiler is a heating system that consists of a sealed chamber that converts water to steam or heats water for circulation in a hydronic heating system. If you have radiators distributed throughout your home, you have a boiler. (Although some boilers distribute heat through baseboard heaters or even radiant pipes embedded in your floors!)

What Is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is an electric air conditioning and heating system that captures existing outdoor heat and transfers the heat into the home. Like a warm-air furnace a heat pump distributes heat through the air ducts in your home.

Your Current Heating System: What You Need to Know

Before purchasing a new heating system, you need to know what type of heating system you currently have. (If you have a boiler and your want to install a warm-air furnace you would need to go through the expensive process of installing new ductwork!) Three things to consider when purchasing a new or upgrading your heating system:

Choosing an appropriately sized system;

Selecting an energy efficient heating system;

Buying the most cost-effective heating solution for your home

Got a Furnace?

If you're looking to replace your furnace the following article offers more detail on buying a furnace.

Got a Boiler?

If you need to replace your boiler, it’s best to replace it with another boiler. Because there are oil-filled boilers and electric boilers, it is vital that you consider the size of your home and your family’s needs. This article offers more information on buying a boiler.

Got a Heat Pump?

The main determining factor in choosing a heat pump is climate. A heat pump is not the best choice in areas that get extremely cold, since it requires transferring cold air from outside the home and warming it up for distribution inside the home—the colder the air outside of the home, the harder the heat pump would have to work to warm up the inside of the home, making this an inefficient heating system for colder climates.