Learn The Distinctions Between Heat Pump, Furnace, and Boiler

Learn about the distinctions between heat pumps, furnaces, and boilers. Trust Sandium for professional HVAC service and expert heating and air conditioning knowledge!

Updated on Oct 23, 2023
5 min read
Learn The Distinctions Between Heat Pump, Furnace, and Boiler

There are different types of heating systems available in the market and it can be quite overwhelming to decide which one to buy.

In this post, we will cover three of the most popular heating systems in the US market – heat pumps, furnaces, and boilers – and how they work.

Heat Pumps

These heating appliances use electricity to transfer heat from a cool area to a warm one, making the cool space cooler in the summer and the warm space warmer in the winter. According to your preference, heat pumps can either lower or increase temperatures.

Cost: If your goal is to increase the overall energy efficiency in your home, installing a heat pump is a terrific way to go about it.

It can lower your monthly cooling and heating bills by replacing your current air conditioner and furnace. The average installation cost of a heat pump can go around $4,800. The average cost to repair is similar to that of a furnace and boiler at $300.

How does it work? 

A heat pump takes air from the colder regions and moves it to the warmer regions. You need a relatively warm weather for a heat pump to work great since it doesn’t generate heat by itself.

That’s why we don’t recommend buying a heat pump if you live in an area with extreme cold.


Furnaces use coils to generate heat. First, they use fuel (gas or oil) to heat the coils, and then they use a motorized blower to waft the air through the coils. This warms the air as it travels through the air ducts in your home.

Cost: There are two kinds of furnaces – gas and electric. Gas furnaces use natural gas to run and you need to regularly maintain them to ensure no gas is leaking. Electric furnaces are smaller but they are usually not as efficient as other kinds of furnaces.

Average installation costs for a furnace typically cost around $3,600 while the maintenance cost tends to average $255.

How does it work?

Most furnaces use electricity, gas, or propane to run however, there are solar-powered, geothermal, and oil furnaces available as well.

To determine whether a furnace is energy efficient or not, look up its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. The higher the rating value, the more efficient the furnace is.


As the name suggests, boilers boil water. Once the water is hot enough, it flows through pipes to the multiple baseboard heaters or radiators in your home. In other words, a boiler supplies heat to your entire home.

Cost: Average costs for a brand new boiler starts around $2,000. The more space the boiler will have to heat, the pricier it will become. Average installation costs for a boiler come around to $4,000.

How does it work?

Most boilers use natural gas or oil to run. If your boiler is inefficient or outdated, your fuel bill can run very high.

Be mindful of your energy bill when running the heat; it will tell you if your boiler needs to be repaired or replaced. If you want to save energy costs, buy a boiler that comes with electronic ignition.

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