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As a participating Home Performance Contractor in the Mass Save® Home Energy Services Program, we are eligible to provide Massachusetts customers with Home Energy Assessments, insulation, and air sealing. Mass Save® is an energy efficiency initiative sponsored by natural gas and electric utilities and energy efficiency service providers. Since 2018, we have expanded our service to New York customers in partnership with NYSERDA, Green Jobs – Green New York, Energy Star, and EmPower programs. Some restrictions may apply, and offers are subject to change or cancellation.

The Differences Between a Furnace and a Boiler

Updated: Feb 4


Most homeowners in New England automatically assume that they have a furnace in their home, but the reality is that many homes are equipped with boilers as a heating system. There are several distinct differences between these two systems, so it's important that you understand which system you have and what steps you need to take to maintain your equipment. 


Everything You Need to Know About Your Furnace


Bryant Furnace

The furnace is the most common type of heating system in the United States, and it is also particularly popular in Massachusetts. The furnace itself creates warm air within the heat exchanger. Once the air reaches the desired temperature set by the occupant of the home, it is forced through the ductwork of the heating and cooling system into the house.


There are two main types of furnaces that New England residents have installed in their homes: 


  • Gas Furnace — The gas furnace is one of the most common types of forced air furnaces. This appliance is fueled by natural gas. In most cases, the gas is supplied to the appliance through an underground pipe, so residents do not have to refill the tank.

  • Oil Furnace — An oil furnace is another type of furnace to consider. This furnace is fueled by propane or diesel oil in a tank that must be refilled by the consumer.

If your home was built with ductwork, you likely have a furnace. There are advantages to owning a furnace such as the ability to install central air conditioning. However, many homes in Massachusetts were built without ductwork, and furnaces are not used in these buildings as a result.



Important Facts About Your Boiler


Boilers are a common heating system in Massachusetts since the winters are notoriously harsh. In cold weather climates, boilers are often used to maintain the desired temperature of a residential home. The boiler works to heat the home by turning water into steam that is then sent through a system of pipes to a radiator located along the walls or floorboards of a home. The heat produced by boilers is more humid than the heat generated by a forced-air furnace.


There are several types of boilers to consider, including:

  • Gas Boiler — The gas boiler is the preferred choice of many New England residents because it is a reliable yet affordable heating system.

  • Oil Burner Boiler — Oil burner boilers are efficient and reliable, but they are the most expensive heating system option.


Understanding the Differences Between a Furnace and a Boiler


There are several distinct differences between a furnace and a boiler that residents should be aware of. The most important difference is that a furnace will use air to heat the home, whereas a boiler uses water and steam. The fact that the systems use different sources to heat the home can have a significant impact on the person's comfort within their house. The boiler pumps hot water or steam through a system of pipes in the floors and baseboards of the home, which creates a comfortable and steady heat. It's the preferred choice of many who live in cold climates.


It should also be noted that these two different heating systems require different types of maintenance. A qualified HVAC company can help you come up with a maintenance plan that works for your heating system.


Which Heating System is More Energy-Efficient? 


Navien Boiler

On the surface, the boiler is considered to be a more energy-efficient system because it requires less fuel to heat the home. However, there are a number of factors that affect the efficiency of a heating system other than its type, such as age, proper maintenance, and fuel source. For example, a new gas furnace may be more energy-efficient than an older model oil burner boiler. A qualified HVAC professional can conduct an assessment that will give you more insight into which heating system will maximize the efficiency of your home.


If you want to know more about your heating system, then contact your HVAC company today. At HomeWorks Energy, we pride ourselves on the fact that we are a valuable resource for our customers. Not only do we want to provide you with the top heating and cooling equipment in the industry and offer you the best possible service, but we also want to help you access the information you need to make the right decision for your home and your family.

Contact us today to learn more about which heating system is right for your home.