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F.H. Furr's Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical Insider Blog

Furnace, Boiler, Heat Pump…What’s The Difference?

During the winter months, there’s no better feeling than coming inside from the frigid temperatures and experiencing that blast of cozy, heated air to greet you. Well winter is officially here, and maintaining your heating system is important if you want it to continue pumping that warm air throughout your house—the thing is, not all heating systems are the same, in fact, there are three different types: furnace, boiler, and heat pump. This can be confusing, but it’s important to know what type of system you have so that you and your HVAC professional can maintain it properly. Additionally, if you’re in the market for a new heating system, we’ve added a few pros and cons to each unit description to help you decide which might be right for your home. Here’s the lowdown on furnaces vs. boilers vs. heat pumps!

Furnace: This is usually what homeowners assume is heating their homes, since people associate furnace with heat. Furnaces use fuel to heat up coils inside the system that the air passes through. That air that’s been heated by the coils is then circulated throughout the home’s duct system and out through the vents and into each room. 

Pros: No need to worry about frozen pipes or leaks.

Cons: Can be drafty and spread allergens and dust particles through moving air.

Boiler: A boiler uses natural fuel or electricity to heat water and turn it into steam. The steam is circulated through the home through pipes and warms the home this way. 

Pros: Less maintenance needed 

Cons: Potential for pipes to freeze in cold weather 

Heat Pump: A heat pump is unique from a furnace and boiler because it doesn’t produce heat, it collects it instead. The heat pump absorbs heat energy from the outside air (even with the temperatures are cold) and transfers that heat indoors. 

Pros: More efficient and removes excessive humidity from the air.

Cons: Requires more maintenance and can have leaky ducts.

The type of heating system you have in your home can help you answer questions about problem areas and maintenance. Knowing about these systems can also help you determine the right one for your home. When considering the best options, several factors should include the size of the home, the climate, budgetary restrictions, even the design of your home. One of our technicians can help you choose the best heating system for your needs, or maintain your current unit so it runs smoothly all winter long!