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Consider the possibility of installing a boiler heating system instead of a furnace in your new Richmond area home. Boiler heating offers several advantages over furnaces in terms of efficiency, ease of operation and home comfort. Refer to this short guide so you know the right questions to ask your heating contractor as you design your new living space.

The main furnace versus boiler difference is in the heat transfer medium. Boilers use hot water and furnaces use hot air. The answer to "how do boilers work?" is fairly simple: A boiler system features a burner which heats water in a storage tank, and a circulating pump that moves the hot water through radiators or floor heating loops. A furnace heats air and uses a blower to force the hot air into the home's ductwork.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Boiler Heating

  • Cost - Boiler systems cost a little more to install than furnace systems, but the extra cost will be recovered over time due to higher energy efficiency.
  • Comfort - Boiler heating keeps a house more comfortable than forced air heating. The radiant heat from hot water doesn't dry the air out like the convection heat supplied by a furnace. With floor-loop hydronic systems, the floors stay warm and cozy, whereas a furnace heats the air above the floors and the floors remain cold.
  • Ease of operation - Boiler systems are easier to maintain than furnace systems. There are no filters to change in a boiler system and there are no supply and return air ducts to have to keep unobstructed and in balance.
  • Efficiency - Modern boilers and furnaces have comparable annual fuel utilization ratio (AFUE) ratings—the ratio of heat supplied by the boiler or furnace to the fuel consumed by the burner. But hot water systems are more efficient beyond the boiler than forced air systems are beyond the furnace, since less energy is lost in the piping than in the ductwork. It's also easier to install and operate zoning systems with boiler heat.

For more information on boiler heating, or any other home comfort questions, contact the pros at Gilman Heating & Cooling. We're proud to service Richmond area homes.