Furnace vs. boiler: which is better for your Kansas City home?

So, you’re searching for a new central heating system for your home and you’re wondering, “Should I choose a furnace or boiler?”

We can help with that! First, we want to show you how they’re different and well as their pros and cons. Finally, we’ll ask you some questions that’ll help you make a final decision.

If you already know the differences between the systems, then skip down to the next section. You won’t hurt our feelings.


How they distribute heat: Furnaces use a forced air system (blower + air ducts) to distribute hot air out of your vents. Forced air is the same system your air conditioner uses to deliver cold air.


  • Inexpensive compared to boilers
  • Works together with your air conditioner since they share the same duct system


  • Forced air heating feels uncomfortable to some people
  • Forced air system can distribute allergens throughout your home


How they distribute heat: Boilers heat water and then distribute it through a series of pipes in your home. Boiler’s can distribute hot water in 3 different ways:

  • Steam radiators
  • Radiant heating
  • Hot water baseboards


  • Easier to do zone heating (heating only the rooms you need)
  • Silent when running since they don’t use a blower to distribute heat
  • Adds humidity in the air, which is important since dry air often infiltrates your homes


  • Expensive to install compared to furnaces (especially if you’re converting from a furnace to a boiler)
  • Requires minimum temperature to keep pipes from freezing.
  • Leaks from pipes can be tricky to repair and can cause water damage to your home.

OK, now that you have a better idea of the difference between the two, let’s talk about which one is right for you.

Should you get a furnace or a boiler? It depends

What’s your budget?

If you’re hurting for cash, go with the furnace, which is cheaper to buy and install.

Here are some cost estimates for furnace and boiler installations in Kansas:

  • Furnace + installation cost: $2,300 to $5,000+
  • Boiler + installation cost: $3,000 to $7,200+

Keep in mind, these are ESTIMATES. The true cost depends on:

  • Type of furnace or boiler (gas, oil, electric)
  • Efficiency of the heating system
  • Who installs the system
  • If you’re converting from a furnace to a boiler

Do you want really low energy bills?
If energy efficiency is important to you, go with the boiler.

Boilers distribute heat through water pipes, not through air ducts, which tend to leak and lose air, increasing your bills as a result.

“In a typical house…about 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts,“ says ENERGY STAR, ”The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.”

How important is air quality to you?
Do you have allergy sufferers in your home? Are you tired of dry, alligator-like skin at home?

If so, go with a boiler. Boilers adds humidity to the air, preventing dry air from invading your home. Also, boilers, unlike furnaces, don’t circulate dust, allergens, and other airborne particles throughout your home.

Have more questions about furnace or boilers? Ask!

Santa Fe Air Conditioning and Heating is the home heating expert for Kansas City area homeowners. So if you have any further questions, feel free to ask out experts (it’s free).