Furnaces & Boilers
Furnaces and boilers are a common way to heat in Vermont, with higher-efficiency systems saving more over time.
Furnaces and boilers are how most Vermonters heat their homes and businesses. Today’s models are up to 50% more efficient than those built pre-1995, saving you money and energy. Compatible fuels include propane, natural gas, oil, pellets, and wood. While a new furnace or boiler is a major expense, you’ll recoup the cost over time through lower energy bills. And if you weatherize your home or building, you may be able to buy a smaller, less expensive system.
Furnaces and Boilers: The Difference
Both furnaces and boilers produce and distribute heat. A boiler is a vessel that heats water and then pushes the steam or hot water through a system of pipes via radiators, baseboards, or underfloor radiant heating. A furnace forces heated air through ducts, which is why it’s sometimes called a “forced hot air” system. Keep in mind that replacing filters and cleaning ductwork on a regular basis preserves the air quality in your home or business and can extend the life of your system.
- Wide variety of fuels: oil, gas, pellet, and cord wood
- Zone heating: boilers let you heat only the rooms you want to
- Use existing ductwork: furnaces integrate with air conditioning
AFUEs and MMBTUs
Furnaces and boilers are rated by Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE), calculated by dividing how well a unit converts energy to heat by the amount of fossil fuel energy it consumes over the course of a heating season. A British Thermal Unit (BTU) is the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Heating is typically measured by dollar cost per million BTUs (MMBTUs).
- New units rate up to 95% AFUE, older units as low as 56%
- A typical home uses 60 to 100 MMBTUs per year
- Compare fuels by their cost per MMBTU: range from $15 for wood to $40 for oil