NDI Heating, Cooling & Plumbing

Boiler vs. Furnace

Both are home heating systems, but they are not the same thing. We’ll give you the facts of each so you can better decide which is best for your home.


A furnace uses air to heat your home.

  • The thermostat detects the falling temperature and calls for heat.

  • In gas furnaces, the pilot light or electronic lights the natural gas or propane in the burner. In electric furnaces, a heating element warms up.

  • Incoming air passes through a heat exchanger and picks up heat from the burner or heating element.

  • The blower forces heated air into the ductwork, where it is distributed throughout the house.

  • Return registers near the floor draw cool air back into the furnace, and the process repeats.


A boiler uses hot water to heat your home.

  • A heat source such as natural gas, oil, or electricity, heats water in a tank.

  • Depending on the type of boiler, either steam or hot water moves through the pipes and circulates throughout the home’s radiant heating system.

  • Hot gases are vented outside to maintain pressure in the boiler system.

  • Cold water at the end of the radiant system’s loop circulates back into the boiler to be reheated, and the process begins again.

Now let’s compare the two:

Comfort: Furnaces distribute air via a blower, which can lead to cold drafts every time the unit comes on. In contrast, a boiler’s convection or radiant heat results in comfortable, consistent warmth from the ground up.

Humidity: Hot air from a furnace is relatively dry, sapping moisture from your skin. This can be combated by running a humidifier. In contrast, boilers deliver a naturally moist air as a result of being heated by water.

Air quality: Boilers are ideal for homeowners with allergy sufferers because they don’t blow dust and contaminants around.

Noise: Some furnaces are relatively loud when they turn on. Boilers provide silent heat for your home.

Maintenance: Furnace owners must use a filter to catch airborne debris. This filter should be replaced every one to three months. It may be necessary to service your boiler once a year, but minimal maintenance is required between visits from a technician.

Efficiency: In most homes, heating with a boiler is more efficient since water is a better conductor than forced-air.

Cost: The investment required at installation depends on your home’s existing features.

Ready to schedule an appointment to install a furnace or boiler? You can call us anytime at (775)745-8791 to schedule an appointment or get an estimate on the installation.

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