Houston Home Service Experts

Furnaces vs Boilers: Which Heating System is Right for You?

Furnaces and boilers last roughly the same amount of time (15-30 years), so what are the differences? We weigh the pros and cons here!

Furnace vs. Boilers

Nearly all homes in the U.S. are heated by a furnace or boiler. Both are effective in heating a home, however, by no means are these terms interchangeable. Before we dive in, it’s important to note that these systems operate in markedly different ways. So if they’re not interchangeable, what’s the difference?

Let’s boil it down.

  • A furnace uses an oil-fueled burner to heat and distribute air through a house via the duct system.

  • A boiler heats water, providing either hot water or steam for heating, which is then distributed through pipes to radiators.

Just remember: a furnace uses air, whereas a boiler uses water.

Now that we’ve covered the difference between the two, let’s talk the good, the bad, and the ugly. As previously mentioned, both boilers and furnaces are effective ways for heating a home. It’s just a matter of choosing which is best for you, as the answer isn’t exactly cut and dry. By laying it all out for you, we hope that you’ll be able to make the best decision based on your budget and needs.



  • Because furnaces use forced air, be prepared to experience cold, drafty spots.

  • Spreading of allergens and other contaminants can occur through the duct system. Air ducts need to be cleaned periodically.

  • Filters should be checked and/or changed every month depending upon if you have pets, how often you use your furnace, and other variables.
  • The warm air dries out the cold air even more, creating the need for a humidification system.


  • Less expensive to operate from month to month, however, this depends on the efficiency of each individual setup.

  • Heat spaces more evenly

  • No noise or air breeze

  • Can be fitted with zone control systems more easily than furnaces

  • Cleaner operation

  • Usually take up less total space, however, you have to organize furniture around the radiators.


  • Higher installation costs

  • Excess air must be bled periodically

  • Slow to heat

  • Possibility of freezing pipes

If you’d like to speak with a professional on the matter, we’re here to answer any questions you may have!

Call Universal Home Experts to schedule you annual heating maintenance today! Houston HVAC – Our lines are open at (713) 364-0226.