Boiler vs. Furnace vs. Hot Water Heater

Most of our customers have a very rough idea of what a boiler is and how it differs from either a furnace or a hot water heater. The differences between the three can definitely be a bit confusing to people outside the industry because a boiler heats water (like a hot water heater) and distributes heat throughout your home (like a furnace).

What Does a Boiler Do?

So here’s a little cheat sheet on boilers vs. water heaters vs. furnaces:

While both boilers and hot water heaters do heat water in a tank, a hot water heater stores that water for when you need to use it in your sink, dishwasher, shower, or washing machine. A boiler actually boils (makes sense, right?) the water and pushes it through pipes in your home to create radiant heat. Most homes in Denver use hot water boilers, but there are also steam boilers that turn the water into steam (though they are less common here, Sensible Heating and Cooling does install and service steam boilers, so give us a call if you have any questions about steam boilers or have one in your home that needs servicing).

denver boiler repair and tuneupThe basic difference between a furnace and a boiler is then that a furnace uses forced air to heat your home, while a boiler uses hot water.

Boiler as an Energy Efficient Choice

Steam boilers are actually extremely energy efficient because steam is both denser than air (so holds more heat) and lighter than water (so easier to move around). But all boilers are efficient because they can take the place of both a traditional water heater and a furnace–two systems in one! The hot water can be transferred through radiators or heat the air in a forced air system. You can also burn many different kinds of fuel in your boiler–from corn pellets to wood to other renewable fuels.

A boiler is also more energy efficient because it is a closed-loop system. That means that any hot water that is not used for heat returns to the boiler, where it can be used again.

Many HVAC companies don’t offer boiler services, but Sensible is proud to offer boiler repairs and tuneups. If you have any additional questions about boilers, we would be happy to answer them. Just contact Dan at 720.876.7166 or dan@sensibleheat.net.