Heat Pumps, Furnaces & Boilers

My 20 year old furnace is ready to conk and it’s time to research an efficient replacement. Since a 10th of our country’s emissions comes from heating our homes and businesses, it’s only prudent to understand the varied options between furnaces, boilers and heat pumps.

The traditional furnace is extremely efficient these days – up to 98% versus the older 80%. An alternative is a boiler which heats water also with natural gas, sent through pipes to radiators throughout the home. Boilers are appealing when more control is desired regarding where the heat goes, but their price tag reveals this flexibility. A newer option on the block is the heat pump which uses electricity from coal… or solar?

Heat pumps extract warmth from the air and move it inside for heat or outside for summer cooling. While the investment is more upfront, the rebates are generous and they are estimated to save up to $1,000/year not to mention emissions. While heat pumps can lose efficiency at lower temperatures, there are numerous types with placement flexibility similar to a boiler – unlike the all or nothing furnace.

Solar is on the horizon for me so a heat pump is appealing, but I haven’t given up on a 98% furnace, either. Boilers are nice for new builds, though they are costly to retrofit from a furnace. I do tend to beat the conk, however!. In the same way it’s important to change out old bulbs to LED before they expire, it’s time to replace your heating system to maximize efficiency. And don’t forget about the rebate whatever you choose.