The Difference Between Boilers and Furnaces

Do You Stay Warm with Hot Water or Hot Air?

boilers new jersey Your heating oil system can either be a furnace or a boiler. A furnace refers to the heating unit in a warm air, or forced air, system. After the air is heated in the furnace, a blower forces it through ducts. The warm air is then released through vents or registers in your home.

If you have a hot water (hydronic) system, water circulates around your boiler’s combustion chamber. A circulator pumps the hot water through pipes to heat baseboards or radiators. Eventually, the water returns to the unit to begin the cycle again. If you have a steam system, typically found in older homes, the boiler turns the water into steam, which then rises through pipes to radiators.

Whether you have a heating oil boiler or heating oil furnace, whenever your home needs heat, the thermostat sends a message to the oil burner to start working. Your system’s fuel pump will draw heating oil from the tank to the burner. From there, heating oil is turned into a fine mist, mixed with air, and ignited inside the combustion chamber. The heat that’s generated travels into your home.

Tips for Furnaces

  • All warm air systems have an air filter to screen out dust and other impurities. In general, you should check the filter’s condition about once a month during the heating season and change/clean it when necessary. Refer to manufacturer guidelines for proper maintenance.
  • If you have a whole house air cleaner connected to your furnace, get the most out of it by keeping the thermostat setting to “on” instead of auto. This provides continuous circulation and filtration of indoor air and helps maintain a balanced temperature throughout your home.

Tips for Boilers

  • If you’re not getting heat from a baseboard, check to see if the damper is open. Make sure the bottom of the unit isn’t blocked by heavy carpeting.
  • For steam systems, check the boiler’s water gauge periodically. Low water levels are a leading cause for shutdowns. Steam boilers should also be flushed when the water in the gauge looks rusty. Speak with your heating oil technician if you’re not familiar with this procedure.
  • A radiator valve has only two positions, on and off. Keeping the valve’s handle in between does not regulate the temperature but can strain the pipes and produce a hammering sound.

Four Ways to Save On Home Heating

Whether you have a heating oil furnace or heating oil boiler, here are four ways you can conserve heat and save money this winter.

  1. Lower your thermostat – The U.S. Department of Energy says you can save about 10% on heating costs by lowering your thermostat from 72°F to 64°F for eight hours a day. The best time to do this is when you’re sleeping or away from home. It’s easy to do if you have a programmable thermostat!
  2. Bring in free solar heat – Keep drapes, blinds and curtains open during the day to allow the sunlight to warm your home. Be sure to close them at night to trap some of the solar heat inside.
  3. Weatherize – You wouldn’t leave a window wide open during the winter, would you? But that’s basically what you’re doing if you don’t fill in openings around external windows and doors in your home. Use caulk, weather stripping, door sweeps, and plastic sheeting to keep air leaks to a minimum. Consider insulating water pipes in unheated areas too.
  4. Replace your old heating system – Older home heating systems can operate at efficiencies that drop into the 60% range – about 30% lower than most modern furnaces and boilers. That inefficiency can cost you thousands of dollars over the years – more than enough to justify the cost of a home heating system upgrade. Be sure to ask your heating oil service provider about current New Jersey rebates and federal tax credits for upgrading your heating oil boiler or heating furnace.

Always feel free to reach out to your local New Jersey heating oil company if you have any concerns or questions about staying safe and warm this winter. Your heating oil company takes pride in its reliable service, and they truly care about your comfort and safety, especially when Arctic air blows into the Garden State.