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Boiler vs Furnace: Which Is Best for My Michigan Home?

Debating whether to get a boiler or furnace?

The truth is, both types of heating systems have their pros and cons, and either system can be a good option for your Michigan home.

Since both systems are equally effective at heating your home, finding the system that is right for you depends on the following factors:

  1. How much you’re willing to spend upfront
  2. How much you want to save long-term
  3. Your comfort preferences

We’ll discuss these factors in more detail to help you choose the best heating system for your home.


Want an HVAC professional to help you find the right heating system for your home? Our Heating Replacement Specialists can help you weigh the pros and cons of each system, and give you upfront pricing on the cost to install a boiler or install a furnace in your home.

Schedule appointment today

Factor #1: How much you’re willing to spend upfront

On average, boilers cost around $5,000 to $7,000 more to install than furnaces.

Why do boilers cost more to install upfront?

Boilers cost more because they require extensive piping to accommodate the heating system, which increases labor time and material costs. However, boilers are overall more efficient than furnaces, which means they can help save you more money over time (more on that below).

That said, a furnace installation can also be quite expensive if your home doesn’t already have ducts installed. If you’re adding ductwork to your home for the first time, the cost of a furnace installation could be comparable to the cost of installing a boiler.

Factor #2: How much you want to save long-term

Furnaces use natural gas or electricity to directly heat your home’s air. Furnaces are generally less energy efficient than boilers because they rely on ductwork, which often has leaks, allowing the hot air to escape into unconditioned spaces (such as an attic). This ultimately makes your furnace work harder to heat your home, which results in higher energy costs.

On the other hand, boilers don’t heat air directly like a furnace. They instead deliver hot water to a radiant heating system, which disperses heat to a room via insulated pipes. Because very little heat is lost from insulated pipes, boilers are generally considered to be more energy efficient than furnaces.

When it comes to calculating the potential energy costs of a particular furnace or boiler system, we recommend you consult with a heating expert. A heating expert can help you calculate the operating costs of a particular heating system based on factors such as:

  • How much heat escapes from your home (i.e. your home’s insulation levels)
  • The efficiency rating of the boiler or furnace
  • How often you would use the heating system during an average winter

After taking into account the factors above, you’ll get an accurate estimate of potential long-term energy savings, which can help you determine whether a furnace or boiler is a better fit for your budget.

Factor #3: Your comfort preferences

Besides the cost-related factors we mentioned above, you’ll also want to consider comfort factors such as:

  • Temperature control: A boiler generally disperses heat more evenly in a room than a furnace, but a furnace is faster at responding to temperature changes at the thermostat than a boiler.
  • Zoning: Zoning refers to the ability to control the temperature in different areas of your home using a single heating system. Boilers naturally provide zoning, but if you opt for a furnace, the contractor you hire for the installation will need to make additional modifications to zone your home, which will likely increase the cost of the installation.
  • Air quality: Forced air systems (such as furnaces) can circulate allergens and pollutants throughout your home, unless you purchase a high-quality air filter or whole-home air purification system. Boilers, on the other hand, use steam or hot water to heat your home, which means they won’t circulate allergens or pollutants at all.

Want additional heating advice from a Michigan pro?

Schedule appointment today

Our Heating Replacement Specialists can help you pick the right heating system for your home, depending on your heating preferences and budget. When you hire Thornton & Grooms, you can count on honest recommendations and upfront, transparent prices.

For more information about what to expect when you hire us, visit our boiler installation and furnace installation service pages.


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