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Home Heating with Gas Furnaces and Boilers

Homeowners in most areas of the U.S. rely on heaters to provide for warmth during the cold winter months. While electric heaters and heat pumps have taken over the market in some southern areas of the country, gas heat remains a viable option in regions where temperatures regularly dip below freezing. If you're shopping for a new heating unit or heating system for your home, don't discount a gas furnace or boiler. Manufacturers have worked hard to make fuel-based heating options affordable, efficient and environmentally friendly. Be sure to work with a contractor while shopping for a new unit so that you can find the best system for your space.

Why Choose Gas to Heat Your Home?

For many years, gas heat received a bad rap because consumers believed it to be inefficient and dirty. However, new gas boilers and furnaces provide for efficient, clean heating that simply can't be beat. When integrated into a well-designed HVAC system, a gas furnace or boiler can provide reliable warmth for your entire home or business. As you consider your heating options, keep the following in mind:

  • Gas heaters offer greater efficiency in most homes than electrical heaters can.
  • While many consumers are moving towards heat pumps, gas furnaces and boilers provide more efficient heating in very cold climates than most heat pumps.
  • Natural gas furnaces and boilers are environmentally responsible and affordable to run.
  • Gas heat systems offer excellent reliability so long as they are well maintained.

Understanding Your Gas Heat Options

Homeowners who are interested in using gas to heat their spaces will be able to choose either a gas boiler or gas furnace. Understanding the differences between these two devices is essential to choosing the solution best suited to your home. Remember that both boilers and furnaces can provide for efficient heating when paired with the right HVAC system.

Gas Boilers for Home Heating

True to their name, gas boilers work to heat your home by boiling water. When the unit's thermostat indicates that the temperature in your home has fallen below the desired level, a chamber in the unit fills with gas, the pilot light kicks on and a reserve of water is heated to the boiling point. This heated water then travels through a pipe system in your home to provide hot air via radiators and heat ducts. Because gas boilers don't recirculate the air inside your home, they have very little impact on overall indoor humidity levels.

Gas Furnaces for Home Heating

Much like gas boilers, gas furnaces kick into operation when they are triggered by your home's thermostat. When the unit turns on, intake fans suck cold air out of your home and into the unit. This cold air is then passed through a chamber where the pilot light has heated gas. Once the air is thoroughly warmed, the unit's blower fan distributes it throughout your house via your duct system. Because air is recirculated by furnaces, they tend to make indoor air quite dry. Some homeowners use a humidifier to combat the drying effects of a furnace.

Choosing The Right Gas Heating System for Your Home

Now that you understand the difference between gas furnaces and boilers, you're ready to pick the right heating solution for your space. As you shop, remember that you'll need to take the system's type, size and efficiency ratings into consideration. An experienced contractor can help you choose the unit that is the right fit for your home.

Gas Heat Furnace vs. Gas Boiler Heat

The first decision you'll need to make is whether you intend to use a gas furnace or boiler. As you make this decision, ask yourself:

  • Am I concerned about humidity levels in my home?
  • Do I want to use ductwork or a ductless system?
  • What efficiency rating should the unit have?

System Sizing

Choosing a gas furnace or boiler of the right size is absolutely essential to home comfort and efficiency. Remember that all units are sized according to their British Thermal Units (BTUs). In order to find the right unit for your home, calculate the total square footage of the area you need to heat. Multiply this figure by 50 to get an idea of how many BTUs you should look for in natural gas boilers for home heating.

Natural Gas Boiler Efficiency Ratings

Before you buy a gas boiler heating system, you'll need to check its efficiency rating. All boilers and furnaces are rated according to their AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency). This rating describes how much fuel is used by a furnace or boiler to produce heat. If a unit has a rating of 90 AFUE, it uses 90 percent of its fuel to create heat while wasting 10 percent of its fuel. Look for units with an AFUE of 95 or higher.

At Comfort 24-7, we understand that shopping for a new gas boiler or furnace can be overwhelming. That's why we invite you to use our free, online tools to find a contractor in your local area who can assist you with all of your heating needs.