What’s the difference between a furnace and a boiler?


Furnace vs. boiler infographic by Reliance Home Comfort

How do I know what I need for my home?

Ever wonder what the difference is between a furnace and a boiler? Do you find yourself unsure of what you have in your home or want to understand the functionality of each when making a heating decision for a new home? In most cases, if you’re looking to upgrade your existing heating system, your choices are limited by the existing architecture of your home, and only certain types of home comfort systems will work properly. That’s why it’s important to identify the key functionality of each heating system so you can make an informed decision for your home.

A furnace uses a fuel like gas, oil or electricity to create heat. The heat is transferred to air by a heat exchanger. This heated air is then distributed throughout your home by a series of ducts.

A boiler, or a hydronic heating system, uses a fuel source to heat a fluid – usually water or glycol – which is then pumped through your hydronic heating system to various devices such as radiators, in-floor heating loops, etc. to heat your home. A boiler can also be used as your home’s hot water heater, providing hot water for your kitchen, bathrooms and clothes washing, as well as for other forms of heating. Boiler heat does not require ductwork and can often be found in older homes.

Here are some other features that a boiler as a home heating solution can offer:

  • Radiant-heating: Connect your boiler to decorative and efficient panel radiators, baseboard heaters etc. which heat the whole room.
  • Toasty floors: Underfloor tubing can be laid under most finished floor materials and connected to your boiler to deliver “invisible” heat to your floors – no more cold feet as you walk through your home!
  • Melt your driveway: Following the same principle as underfloor tubing, you can automatically turn on and circulate heat to melt snow or ice at the entrances to your home – reducing shoveling and making it safer to walk.
  • The spa treatment: Indoor and outdoor swimming pools as well as hot tubs can be heated with your boiler – while never mixing with pool or spa water.
  • Towel warmers: Add a touch of luxury to your bathroom. Hydronic towel warmers use the heat from your boiler to effectively warm and dry bathroom towels.

Keep in mind that these spa-like features may come with added costs – generally requiring additional home renovations to create your dream oasis.

If you’re looking at newer heating systems, you can find high-efficiency options that can help save on energy consumption and, in turn, could save you money on your energy bills in the long run. Both types of heating systems work to help keep homes toasty and warm!

Now that you know the key differences between a furnace and a boiler, you can consider your options. This brings you to your next decision: should you rent or buy your new furnace or boiler? This is a very important aspect as both options differ in their own way.

Here are a few of the key factors to consider when investigating your financial options for a furnace or boiler system:

  • Renting a heating system doesn’t require significant upfront costs and can free you from expenses associated with maintenance as well as any unforeseen repair costs.
  • One low monthly rental payment can make it easier to budget for home expenses.
  • While buying a furnace or boiler involves a higher upfront cost, owned equipment can add value to your home when it’s time to sell.
  • If you’re looking to buy a new furnace or boiler, consider a Comfort Protection & Maintenance Plan to cover your annual maintenance and help protect you against unexpected repair costs.
  • Want to buy your furnace or boiler, but don’t have the funds on hand? Talk to a Home Comfort Advisor about financing options available with Reliance.

Once you have considered the key factors between renting and buying a new furnace or boiler and you’re ready to make a decision.

Here are a few of the many reasons you should choose a heating system from Reliance:

  • Benefit from the buying power of one of the largest furnace providers in Canada – our top-of-the-line brands include: SmartAirAmana® Carrier® Rinnai® Bosch® and Goodman®
  • Rely on our depth of industry knowledge, with over 50 years of experience in providing home comfort solutions.
  • Experience the dedication and care of local service providers – our team members live and work in your community and are familiar with your region’s unique needs.
  • We’re here for you when you need us – call our live help desk, toll free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  • We stand behind our work and offer some of the best money-back and service guarantees in the business on our heating and cooling products and services, including our 100% Money-Back Guarantee. Learn more about our guarantees.

Making the right home heating decision for you and your family can be a challenge. Your best first step is to speak with a Reliance Home Comfort™ Advisor. Book a free in-home consultation online or call us today!

Learn More About Your Furnace

Furnace Learning Resources

Flip through our library of helpful furnace information.

Buying a New Furnace? Here’s 10 Tips

Thinking of buying a new furnace before winter hits? Here are some important points to consider before making your final choice.

5 Things to Check if your Furnace Stops Working

The first thing that may come to mind, of course, is to call the professionals in to fix it – and that’s never a bad idea.

Get a high efficiency HVAC system you can count on.
Click here for our latest HVAC offer