Homes typically use one of two types systems for whole home heating, boilers or furnaces. While both have a long life expectancy, and both can run on the same fuel sources (natural gas, propane, heating oil, or electricity), there have been many advances in technology and design that have dramatically improved the efficiencies of both types of systems.
A central heating system usually consists of three parts: a boiler or furnace to generate heat, a distribution system of pipes or ducts to move that heat throughout the home, and controls, which act as the brain of the system. When assessing the efficiency of a central heating system, all three parts need to be considered.
- The pros and cons of both systems are easily described:
Boilers offer easy to practice zone heating, require a greater investment, and a minimum temperature must be maintained to avoid pipes from freezing
Furnaces are less expensive but the fans that distribute the airflow can be noisy
- Energy efficiency in boilers and furnaces is measured the same way — by annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). A unit that has an AFUE of, say 70, converts 70% of its fuel to heat. The other 30% is lost. The federal government dictates that gas- and oil-powered furnaces can’t have an AFUE rating of lower than 78%. High-efficiency furnace models must have AFUE ratings of 85% or higher.
AFUE ratings for boilers depend on the type of boiler and its heating source. Steam boilers running on oil have a minimum AFUE of 82%. A steam boiler running on gas, meanwhile, would have a minimum of 80%. Hot water boilers have a minimum of 82% for gas models and 84% for models that run on oil.
Today’s modern boilers are smaller, very quiet, and environmentally friendly. They use fuel-efficient condensing technology to deliver an AFUE rating close to 95%. Some models are designed for space and tankless water heating or the space heating.
If the boiler in your home has outlived it’s life-cycle, we hope you’ll invite Schaible’s Plumbing & Heating to show you the latest in modern boiler models. We are boiler experts and only work with proven brands. We’ll evaluate your space and get to understand your needs, then make a recommendation ideal for your situation.