Drafty home? Boilers are still one of the most efficient home heating options. Because of the high heat capacity of water, oil and gas boilers actually produce somewhat more heat than furnaces, making them ideal in areas with particularly cold winters.
Oil and Gas Boilers for Home Heating
At Griffith Energy Services, we’ve been serving the families of the Mid-Atlantic region for over 100 years, and we remain committed to helping our friends and neighbors by helping them understand their heating equipment options. Great heating isn’t just a luxury; it’s a necessity. Over the years, we’ve learned that every home’s heating needs are unique, and one size absolutely does not fit all. That’s why we offer a broad range of heating products to keep every individual home warm, and among those are great gas and oil boilers.
How a Boiler Works
Any heating system needs two things to keep your home warm: a source of heat and a means to distribute that heat throughout the house. In the case of a boiler, that heat source is a burner that runs on either natural gas or heating oil. The system confines that heat to a closed container to assume as little as possible is lost.
Different models of boilers use slightly different means to distribute that heat throughout the house. Hot water heating systems bring in cold water and warm it up, though not to the point of becoming steam; the term “boiler” is something of a misnomer in that case, though it’s still widely used. True boilers take water and actually heat it above its boiling point, turning it into superheated steam. In either case, the water or steam is pumped throughout the home, releasing its heat into the indoor air.
Types of Boilers
The great majority of home boilers are known in the industry as firetube systems. In a firetube boiler, the fire from the burner is directed inside tubes within the boiler shell, which are surrounded by water. The system arranges the water in banks that allow hot gases to pass through the boiler up to four times before exiting, which allows the water to absorb as much heat as possible. The upshot of that setup is that as much heat transfer surface as possible is exposed, increasing energy efficiency.
Some high-capacity boilers are called watertube boilers, which means the fire is actually outside a central assembly that contains the water or steam to be heated. These boilers are usually rectangular and include two or more drums. We don’t often install watertube boilers in homes, but they’re sometimes used for commercial heating.
Advantages of a Boiler
The main alternative to a gas or oil boiler is a furnace, which operates on similar principles but heats air instead of water. Furnaces also provide fairly efficient heating, but they tend to dry out the air they heat; unless a humidifier unit is attached to the furnace, that can lead to an unacceptably low humidity level. Heating your home with a boiler sidesteps that issue entirely, which can make it easier to breathe and extend the lifespan of your wooden furniture.
One of the key advantages of boiler-based heating is the power of radiant heat. Unlike a furnace, which just pumps air throughout the duct system, most gas and oil boilers pump their hot water or steam through radiant pipes in the floor. This radiant heat doesn’t just raise ambient temperature of the room; it actually goes directly to objects in the room, including people. The upshot is that there are no cold spots, no drafts and no need to move around to get comfortable. With a boiler, you’ll be able to keep warm anywhere in the heated portion of the house.
Radiant heat can also be extended outside the house if desired. Unless you’d like to pay to heat the entire world while you’re at it, there’s no way to heat your deck or driveway with a forced-air system. With a boiler, though, you can just extend the radiant tubing anywhere on the property. Just switch the heat on to melt snow as it falls on your driveway or keep your toes warm as you spend a winter night out on the patio.
Switching to a boiler also eliminates some of the drawbacks that come with forced-air systems. Furnaces blow hot air through ducts, which means they have a tendency to also move whatever is in the ducts. If you have allergy sufferers in your home, investing in a boiler can be a great move. You also won’t have to worry about duct cleaning.
A final advantage of boilers is that they run silently. Forced-air systems can’t help but produce a fair amount of noise as they literally blow hot air all over the house. A boiler, though, quietly pumps its heat throughout the home, warming you up without assaulting your ears. The low noise level also makes it easier to identify problems with the system: If you do hear gurgling in the lines, something is wrong.
We at Griffith Energy are proud to help our friends and neighbors stay warm by giving them plenty of heating equipment options. Though they aren’t as popular as furnaces in our area, largely due to the cost of installation, oil and gas boilers are terrific choices for many families. They keep you consistently warm, they run efficiently, they don’t spread allergens and they do it all almost silently. Looking to update your home heating system? Call us today!
Written by Kevin Spain