Boiler vs Furnace: Pros and Cons

When it comes to home heating systems, there are two primary options to choose from: furnaces and boilers. Both of these options have a number of upsides, but some disadvantages as well.

Are you thinking about installing a new heating system in your Chicago home? Need help choosing between a furnace and a boiler?

Get in touch with our heating experts today.

Perhaps you’re building a new home? Maybe you’re looking for a new way to heat your existing home? In any case, you’re in need of a new heating system.

Although there are a variety of heating systems available, two of the most popular heating options include furnaces and boilers. Furnaces and boilers both have their upsides, and their drawbacks as well. To help you decide between the two, we will compare each option below.

The Differences Between a Boiler and Furnace

Energy Efficiency

In terms of energy efficiency, boilers outpace furnaces. While both furnaces and boilers are inherently energy efficient, furnaces tend to waste a lot of air during the blowing process. This is to say, as hot air travels through furnace ducts, much of it escapes before reaching exit vents. The heat produced by boilers does not leak out as it travels to radiator panels.

In essence, long, leaky ducts result in reduced energy efficiency. If you hope to save money in the long run, we recommend going with a boiler.

Because boilers don’t require the use of air ducts, very little heat is lost during the actual heating process. In fact, essentially all of it is used for heating.


In terms of upfront costs, furnaces are more affordable than boilers. Not only are furnaces cheaper to purchase, they’re cheaper to install as well. This is true regardless of whether or not you already have ducts installed throughout your home.

Whereas furnaces typically cost around $1,000, boilers typically cost around $4,000. Granted, boilers are more energy efficient and less maintenance-intensive, but this disparity in cost will often cause homeowners to opt for a furnace instead.

However, over time, boiler systems often end up costing less than furnaces. This is due to their outstanding energy efficiency. Because they use very little energy, they also cost less money to power on a month-to-month basis.

Heating Quality

Both furnaces and boilers provide, at the very least, decent heating quality. This is because boilers make use of radiant heating, and radiant heating has the ability to encapsulate an entire room with heat. However, when compared to this aspect, boilers have the advantage.

In most cases, boiler systems provide more consistent heat quality than do furnaces. 

By contrast, furnaces are often quite drafty. Because furnaces make use of air vents, they tend to produce hotter temperatures in spots where vents are located. Boilers, because they make use of water pipes without any ends, produce evenly distributed heat all throughout the home in which they’re installed.

When a furnace is running, a room will typically feel much warmer next to its vents than it will away from its vents. This might make it difficult for you to find a heat setting that is reasonably comfortable throughout the entire room.


When it comes to noise, boilers, once again, reign supreme. Overall, boilers make essentially no noise whatsoever. Though furnaces are not known to be particularly loud, they still tend to make audible and constant background noise. It could be argued that, in this department, boiler systems are slightly superior to furnace systems.

When a furnace is running, you will likely hear air blowing out of your vents. This sound is typically not disturbing, but is still fairly noticeable.

Boiler systems, on the other hand, do not utilize air. Because of this, they are essentially silent in all rooms throughout your home. The only exception to this is the room which houses your boiler itself. The central heating components of both boilers and furnaces could make a decent amount of noise.

Call our HVAC professionals if you’re hearing noises from your boiler or furnace.


While both furnaces and boilers themselves are fairly unsightly, they can typically be hidden away in laundry rooms, basements, and other scarcely-visited rooms. In other words, the heating entities themselves don’t make much of an aesthetic impact at all.

However, because furnaces require the use of ducts and ventilation, they do have a bit of an aesthetic influence. On the other hand, boilers can be used within radiant heating systems. Radiant heating systems are not visible at all, as they can be installed inside walls and floors.


Neither furnaces nor boilers are huge safety hazards. They can both be installed in homes without much worry.

The only concern you might have is children or animals sticking their hands or paws into the vents associated with furnace systems. However, this is an easily controllable situation.

Maintenance & installation

Overall, furnaces are more maintenance-intensive than boilers. Not only do furnace air filters need to be changed on a regular basis, air ducts need to be cleaned every now and then as well.

While boilers may suffer problems that need repair, they don’t typically require regular maintenance. They can, for the most part, be ignored for long periods of time.


In most cases, furnace installation will be much simpler than boiler installation. This is true regardless of whether or not your home is already equipped with air ducts.

Boiler system installation isn’t difficult because of the boiler itself; it’s difficult because of the radiator panels that accompany a boiler system. These panels are often installed within walls and under floors, which requires that they be pulled apart during the installation.

Pulling apart floors and walls requires a great deal of time, effort, and money. For this reason, many homeowners choose to opt for furnaces instead of boilers.

Looking for A New Heating System in Chicago?

Are you looking to install a new heating system in your home? In need of heating services in Chicago, specifically? If so, the HVAC professionals with Lakeview Heating and Cooling are the people to see.

Over the years, we have installed thousands of furnaces and boilers in homes throughout the Chicago area. We would be happy to do the same for you.

Contact us now to get started!