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Posts Tagged ‘Heating’

Furnaces Vs Boilers: What’s the Best Heating System Option?

High-Efficiency Heating System in Illinois

A modern, high-efficiency heating system in Illinois will do wonders for your property, from potentially reducing your heating costs, to improving the comfort of your rooms, but which system is the best to go for: a boiler or a furnace?

The heating system that you choose for your house will determine the comfort and efficiency of your home for many years, so it’s a decision that needs very careful consideration. Yet, choosing between a boiler and a furnace is no simple task. Both systems may be designed to heat your home, but they couldn’t be more different in terms of design, function, and capability.

It’s time to get to the bottom of which system is the best option for your home…

What Is a Furnace?

Put simply, a furnace is designed to heat air. The heated air is then blown throughout a property via a blower motor. By using a system of ducts installed around the property, the hot air is then released into each room, where it’ll heat the space. This same duct system can also be used for air conditioning in warmer months of the year.

Now that you know how a furnace operates, here are some of the main pros and cons of opting for a furnace to heat your home:

  • Less expensive than a boiler
  • Leaks are unlikely to cause much damage
  • No risk of frozen pipes
  • Easy and often inexpensive to maintain
  • Furnace duct-work can be used for air conditioning
  • Not as energy efficient
  • Can cost more to run
  • Heat is not always consistent
  • Can be loud
  • Poor quality ducts can lead to drafts
  • Air quality is reduced due to blown air

What Is a Boiler?

Unlike a furnace, a boiler doesn’t heat air, but instead heats water. Depending on the boiler, either hot water or steam will be circulated via pipes around a property. There’s a lot of variance between boiler applications; some boilers can be used to circulate heat via a fan coil, whilst other systems can be used disperse heat into rooms via radiators or underfloor heating systems.

It’s also possible to have a combi boiler installed which can heat radiators and other systems, as well as being used to heat the main water supply for a property.

Boilers are very different to furnaces in the way that they provide heat to the home, but are the pros of this system worth the cons? Here are some of the main pros and cons to consider:

  • The heat that a boiler produces is more consistent
  • Easy to maintain
  • Air quality is improved as dust isn’t blown around the room
  • Can be very energy efficient to operate
  • Very quiet operation
  • Easy to control
  • Higher initial costs
  • Leaking water can cause damage
  • Not always responsive to thermostat changes
  • Freezing pipes are a potential hazard

Furnace Vs Boiler: Which Is Best?

There’s a substantial difference between boilers and furnaces, but despite the main differences, there’s no clear ‘best’ option. A lot depends on the existing system that’s installed inside a property, as altering the system, particularly from a boiler to a furnace, can be very difficult and expensive.

However, for new constructions or properties that are undergoing serious renovations, where a choice has to be made between a boiler and a furnace, it’s certainly worth comparing the pros and cons.

Financially, the installation of a furnace is a more appealing choice initially, as the system is considerably more cost-effective. However, in the long-run, the efficiency of a boiler can seem like a better investment; boilers are more energy efficient, and the heat is generally more consistent.

A major downside to boilers is the risk of damage if a leak should occur. Boilers pose a risk of water damage, and burst pipes, which can occur during freezing temperatures. A furnace is not prone to these problems, as it heats air instead of water. A great advantage of furnaces is also the ease of installing air conditioning.

For properties in warmer climates, furnaces can be a much more beneficial choice, as the inconsistent heat won’t be such a problem and the air conditioning will be greatly depended on. For properties in colder climates, the applications and efficiency of boiler can be very rewarding.

Get Advice from the Professionals

The last thing you want is to regret the system that you choose, as it’s certainly not easy to alter the system down the line! One of the best ways to determine which system will be right for your home is to get advice from heating and cooling specialists, as while there’s no single ‘best’ system, there may be a best system for your home.


Emergency Heat: The 411 on 911 Heating

Emergency Heat: What Is the Deal?

Emergency heat is basically a secondary source of heating. It is used in heating systems when the unit detects the temperature as being too low to be powered by the primary unit alone. Most heating systems use electricity, gas, hot water and oil to run. More often than not, the primary and secondary heating methods work together to warm your home effectively in the winter months.


Usually, the homeowner can just let the unit do its own thing due to the automatic switch setting on your heating device (you should check whether your own unit is automatic or manual), yet you may be still questioning whether or not you should change the heat settings on your system in extreme cold conditions or use emergency heat when your house is taking a while to heat up. We’ve broken down emergency heat and the things you should and should not be doing below.


When Should I Be Using Emergency Heat?

Many homeowners make the huge mistake of altering the setting of their emergency heating as soon as winter hits. Don’t ever do this as if you do, you are wasting your time and money. Your primary heating source can take care of the job perfectly fine and will use the secondary source if and when necessary. So, the question we all want answering is: when should I interfere with my emergency heating? The answer is simple: if and when an actual emergency happens. These emergencies may include: when the bad weather conditions (such as bad storms) have broken your primary heat source and/or when your heating device becomes faulty due to other reasons.


The bottom line of emergency heat? Only use it in an emergency!


If you’re wondering why emergency heat should be simply turned on whenever you want, we have listed some reasons:


  1. Emergency heat can work out extremely expensive

As stated above, emergency heat is not meant for long term use, therefore if you use it occasionally throughout the year, you won’t see a huge increase in your heating bill. However, if you run emergency heat non-stop, you’ll definitely see a rise in your heating bills. Use your emergency heat wisely to avoid a shock.


  1. You’re wasting your time

If you’ve been told for years that you ought to switch on the emergency heat as soon as the cold temperatures comes and you’ve never felt the need to question it, you’ve slipped into bad and misunderstood habits. Break those habits now, stop wasting your time and money and stop using your emergency heat unnecessarily.


  1. There could be other underlying issues you need to be concentrating on first

If you’re using your emergency heat in situations where it should be used, there is no issue. However, if every single year you seem to run into an issue, the chances are that there could be an underlying issue that needs to be fixed. The best thing to do in this situation would be to get in contact with a professional and ask them to run a health check on your entire heating system. Eliminate any problems and start over with your heating system.


How to Stay Warm Without Using Emergency Heating

Now you’ve established when to use and when not to use your emergency heat, you may be wondering how you’re meant to keep your home warm and toasty enough in the winter without running to your thermostat and switching on the emergency heat setting. Here are our top tips to keep warm throughout the winter:


  • Place draught excluders by gaps between doors and floors – this will prevent any icy cold air blowing into your home.
  • Buy a hot water bottle – nothing beats snuggling up to a hot water bottle, just be sure to wrap it up in a cover so that it doesn’t burn you!
  • Wear a thick jumper and invest in some fleece blankets.
  • Buy some proper loft insulation – decent loft insulation dramatically increases the heat in your home and ultimately brings your heating bills right down.
  • Check your windows – old windows may not be suitable for keeping warm air in and cold air out. For a longer term solution, consider double glazed or triple glazed windows.


The above are only a couple of ways in which you may consider keeping your home warm and cozy throughout the winter. There are various other inventive ways that you can keep your own home toasty.


Is It OK to Use Primary Heating Throughout Winter?

The winter months can be particularly difficult to get through, so it can be tempting to whack your thermostat right up, plus the emergency heat setting. We’ve already established when to not put the emergency heat on, so the question remaining is: can I leave my regular heating on throughout the whole of winter? The answer to this is yes and no.


While primary heating sources and units are not as energy consuming as emergency heat, it is still not advisable to leave your heating on constantly as this is wasteful money wise and efficiency wise. If you live in an area that suffers rather chilly cold spells, you’d be best off putting your thermostat on a timer (for example, having it start one hour before you wake up or arrive home from work so that your home is warm enough for you without the need to keep your heating on all the time) and by purchasing various other heating and heat saving methods that will work with your primary heating unit (such as insulation and excluders).


Whatever you do, never leave ANY heating unit or setting on 24/7, whether it be the primary or secondary heat source. Leaving heating units on full power constantly is harmful to the environment, bad for your bank balance, encourages bad habits and could be potentially dangerous.


Other Winter Tips

As well as keeping your eye on your heating units this winter, you should also do the following:


  • Invest in decent flooring (i.e carpeting)
  • Check your loft insulation and get a professional to fix and patch up any holes.
  • Close your curtains – this will prevent some cold air blowing in and warm air escaping.
  • Search your house for cracks and holes where cold ir can get in and warm air can get out – make sure you check areas you do not go in often, such as the garage and loft. Even if you do not use these rooms, they will contribute to the overall temperature of your home.
  • Have your heating unit and thermostat serviced by a professional before winter starts – this will eliminate any issues before they occur. By having your heater serviced before winter starts, you’ll probably get it seen to and any issues fixed quicker because you’ll have missed the winter rush of customers who have forgotten to check their appliances earlier.
  • Buy some slippers, cardigans and sweaters!
  • Get into the habit of closing doors and creating small spaces that will heat up quickly and efficiently.



It may be difficult to find the balance between a freezing cold home and a boiling hot one. Nonetheless, with dedication and planning, you’ll soon be able to figure out which methods work throughout your home every winter. By keeping up good practices, you’ll soon be keeping your home at the optimum temperature for you and your family, and surprisingly you’ll be saving yourself money and time by not switching on the emergency heat carelessly.


Don’t get us wrong, emergency heat is extremely beneficial when it is needed. It’s simply not needed at the drop of a hat when you’re feeling a little bit colder than the other winter and fall nights. Enjoy your emergency heat; don’t abuse it and waste your money though!

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