Types and Comparison of Home Heating Systems

Do you know your way around your home heating system? If you’re buying a home, renovating a home, or updating your home heating system, you need to know your stuff. Don’t leave home maintenance to the guys – you’re perfectly capable of making the right decision for your home.

Your Home Heating System

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When you’re buying a home or redoing your home heating system, one of the most important decisions you have to make is whether you want a boiler or a forced air furnace. Depending on your house and fuel setup, there is no clear answer as to which is better. Find out which one is better for your home and lifestyle right here.

Initial Cost of Home Heating Systems

home heating system installation

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In terms of initial cost, furnaces tend to be much cheaper than boilers. The cost of installing a gas furnace averages around $1,200 (while electric can be as low as $600, the operating costs will be much higher). By comparison, the average boiler costs $3,500, though high-end models can go as high as $10,000.

However, the cost of installing a furnace can be a lot higher if you don’t have a natural gas line already. The cost of connecting your home to natural gas can be range from $1200 – $5000, which is one reason many homes without gas hookups continue to use boilers. There’s also the cost of exhaust and air ducts that you will have to install. It’s one of the reasons why older homes that already come with boilers tend to stick to that heating system.

Comfort Heating System Brings

warm and comfortable feel with your home heating system

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One reason to install a furnace in a home that used a boiler is draftiness. Radiators are more efficient at distributing heat and they create warm, toasty floors without drying out the air. They can be really quite warm, but they are notably bad at warming up windows and the areas around them. If you have older, drafty windows, it can feel like your radiator isn’t doing anything. You may want to consider installing new windows first.

Energy Efficiency Of Heating Systems

energy efficient homes

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When it comes to energy efficiency, tank boilers tend to be more efficient on average. They have an average AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) of 90 percent, compared to the average furnace’s 80 percent. You can get high-efficiency furnaces that run up to 98 percent efficient, though there is still heat loss in the ducts.

Heating Systems Operating Costs

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Boilers are typically much cheaper to run than furnaces, especially natural gas. The average annual cost to operate a furnace with natural gas is $850, compared to a boiler’s $240 per year. Boilers also win out if you use electric fuel, using $500 a year compared to a furnace’s $900, though these will depend on local electricity rates.

Furnaces are easier and more affordable to install, but boilers may be cheaper to operate.


The more information about boilers and furnaces you have, the better equipped you are to make the right choice. Learn about your home heating system and use this guide to help you decide which one is best when you upgrade or when you’re buying a home.