With the arrival of winter comes a stark reminder of how much your family relies on your home heating system. There’s no better feeling than arriving to a warm and cozy home after commuting in the cold. But how much do you know about your home heating system?
Furnaces have a life expectancy of between 15 and 20 years, while gas boilers can last up to 15 years with good maintenance. As a homeowner, you only have a few opportunities to change your home heating system to get more out of it. If your system is ready for an upgrade, you may want to learn more.
Boiler Fuel Types
Radiators rely on radiant heat, pushing hot water throughout your home that originates in a boiler. Your boiler can be powered by electricity, oil, or natural gas. Natural gas is more commonly used because it’s usually more affordable than electricity in many parts of North America.Electric boilers are actually the most efficient type when it comes to energy use, but not always the most economical due to high electricity prices. If you don’t have a natural gas setup at all, a boiler will be more economical than a furnace.
Boiler Heat Distribution
There are 3 main ways your boiler will distribute heat, often dependent on how old the heating system is:
- Steam Heating – The oldest central heating technology, common in older houses and apartments. Big, upright metal radiators provide consistent heat throughout the room, though they can limit how you position furniture.
- Hot Water Radiators – They’re similar in appearance to electric radiators. They run along baseboards and are generally more energy efficient than steam heating.
- Radiant Floor Heating – If you love warm, toasty floors, hydronic radiant floor heating uses tubes that flow under the floor. Often this system is used for a specific room rather than the whole house, due to high installation costs. However, they are more efficient than most other types of heating.
Why Invest in a Furnace?
Boilers are typically considered more efficient than forced air furnaces, but furnaces are one of the most popular options. They often come pre-installed in homes. If you bought a more modern home, you likely have one already. One of the big differences between furnaces and boilers is that furnace maintenance is easy, not to mention the longer life expectancy. For the most part, all you need to do to maintain a furnace is change the air filters and keep the burner clean. You may periodically need to call a furnace repair technician for more advanced maintenance or duct cleaning. But it’s easier and cheaper than boiler maintenance.
If your home doesn’t already have radiators and a boiler, a new furnace is the simplest and easiest way to replace your home heating system. The air is heated by electricity, oil, or natural gas through a heat exchanger that warms up the air, which is then distributed through air ducts.
Whether you ultimately choose a boiler or a furnace, contact an HVAC expert to install it.