Ottawa Home Services
Fast & Reliable 24/7 EMERGENCY SERVICE!

Furnace vs Boiler: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to heating your home, there are plenty of options you can choose for a heating system. You might be used to a furnace, boiler, or even a heat pump and if you’re looking to upgrade or install a new system, you might not know which is the best option for you.

Below, we take a look at the two most common types of heating systems: furnaces and boilers. Furnaces blow hot air through ductwork, while boilers heat water, in order to distribute heat throughout your home. Both will have advantages and disadvantages, it’s just a matter of deciding which option works best for you.

Buderus Boiler

What is a Boiler?

A boiler is a hydronic heating system that uses hot water to heat your home. The hot water (or steam, depending on the style of boiler) gets distributed through a network of pipes to radiators placed throughout your home. Radiators come in different styles, such as baseboard radiators, cast-iron radiators, and radiant floor tubing systems.

Boilers can use different types of fuel, such as natural gas, oil, or electricity. There are plenty of different types and styles of boilers—Ottawa Home Services carry NTI Boilers, Buderus Boilers, Navien and IBC, to name a few.

What is a Furnace?

FurnacesComfortmaker furnace G97CMN are forced air systems that distribute hot air through your home’s ductwork. Furnaces heat air by taking it from outside and warming it with natural gas, propane, oil, or electricity. The heated air is blown through vents located throughout your home.

What’s the Difference Between a Furnace vs Boiler?


Prices for a new furnace or boiler system vary, depending on the fuel, boiler or furnace sizing, and existing heating system already installed. Generally, furnaces are more affordable than boilers in upfront costs, but it’s hard to directly compare the two heating systems on a monthly basis.

Both heating systems offer energy-efficient models, and fuel costs vary depending on your region. The amount of fuel you use (and the energy efficiency you get) depends on how warm you keep your home, the type of thermostat you have installed, and how well your home is insulated.

If you’re looking to reduce your heating bill, check out our tips to save money on your energy bill.


Boilers have fewer moving parts and components than a furnace, so will usually last longer. However, to ensure longevity, it’s a good idea to keep up on regular maintenance regardless of the heating system you have.


A furnace or boiler heating system will have energy efficient models, and the energy efficiency will depend on the size and type. You can also improve your home’s energy efficiency with more than just your heating system.

Furnaces will use more fuel to heat air than a boiler will use to heat water. If you’re looking for maximum efficiency, a boiler system is the better option.


Furnaces typically have more maintenance needs than boilers do. Their parts are more prone to breaking, and others need regular replacement in order to keep the furnace system running. You should always choose a reliable, accredited business like Ottawa Home Services for your furnace repair needs.

With boilers, you’ll benefit from an annual tune-up service, but otherwise the regular upkeep is quite minimal. They have fewer moving parts, and they wear out more slowly over the boiler’s lifetime.


Either a furnace or boiler will sufficiently heat your home and make it comfortable no matter how cold it gets outside. If your home lacks space, a furnace takes up less space and can fit in smaller utility closets.

If you have the room for it, a boiler is a great option for colder climates like Canada, since they tend to heat a home more consistently and evenly than a furnace.

Trust Ottawa Home Services With Your Heating Installation

Ultimately, in the boiler vs furnace choice, it’s a balance between your budget, home size, and your family’s heating needs. Or if you don’t have the upfront costs to purchase a more expensive boiler system, a furnace heating system might be your best bet.

If your home needs a new heating system, talk to the home comfort specialists at Ottawa Home Services. Find out whether a furnace vs boiler is right for you, and get expert advice and installation on whichever one you choose!

Request a Quote

Accredited Icon  Received a letter from Enbridge? Learn about the Open Bill Program and new payment process

This is just a test