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Guide To Choosing a New Boiler

Updated Dec 26, 2022

Updated Dec 26, 2022

Home > Maintenance & Renovation > Guide To Choosing a New Boiler

Most U.S. homeowners spend around $5,000 for a new boiler installation. However, the price will vary significantly based on the system, fuel type, and size of the boiler. Therefore, considering the pros and cons of different system boiler models before committing to one is crucial to saving money. 

Here is our complete guide to choosing a new boiler to replace a broken down, old, or underperforming boiler. 

When Should I Replace a Boiler?

technician checking on a boiler
Image Source: Canva

You should inspect your boiler and heating system at least once a year, preferably before temperatures drop. Look for malfunctioning components and pay special attention to your boiler, which is the primary heating source for steam- and water-based systems in your home. Boilers use a variety of fuels, including natural gas, electricity, propane, oil, or wood, to heat a home through radiators, fan-forced coils, radiant floors, and baseboard convectors. 

If your boiler is over 20 years old, it’s likely time to choose a new boiler. Older boilers use energy inefficiently and are much larger than recent models, making a new high-efficiency model a wise investment. If your boiler is less than 10 years old, you may also want to consider upgrading your HVAC system before winter hits. 

The other reason you should replace your old boiler is when the one you have entirely breaks down. Unfortunately, this can happen at any point, even with a new boiler. However, choosing the right type of boiler for your household and performing regular maintenance on it will help you extend its life span

Types of Boilers

Nobody wants to be surprised with cold water during their morning shower. Repairing and replacing your old boiler promptly can help you avoid the nasty shock of an ice-cold shower or a dropping thermostat. 

Here are the main types of boilers:

Oil-fired Boilers

An oil-fired or oil boiler requires heating oil to be regularly replenished in its storage tanks. The price of the oil will affect the operating costs for this type of boiler. While standard oil has been traditionally used, new biodiesel heating oil can compare to heating oil prices. Biodiesel heating oil burns cleaner and lubricates the boiler system better, reducing the service and cleaning costs of maintaining this type of boiler. 

Gas-fired Boilers

Gas boilers take propane or natural gas. These are highly efficient boilers. However, natural gas is not readily available throughout the United States. Depending on how close you are to the gas pipeline, you may end up paying a premium price. Propane usually costs more than natural gas, but it’s readily available throughout the U.S. 

Electric Boilers

Electric boilers are the most energy-efficient choice. However, their energy efficiency often comes at a more expensive electricity cost than other boiler fuel choices. If you opt for an electric boiler, think about pairing it with a heat pump to help reduce these costs. 

What To Consider Before Buying a New Boiler

Besides boiler type, consider these factors before deciding on the new type of boiler for your home: 

Boiler Size

Consult your heating engineer about how big of a boiler you need to heat your home comfortably. If your boiler is undersized, it will be strained trying to meet your heating needs. However, an oversized boiler will unnecessarily increase your heating bills. 

Cooling

Do you need an air conditioner to pair with your boiler?  Remember boilers are heat-only appliances, so if you need a cooling system, you’ll require an additional system. 

Climate

What are your heating needs? If you live in a warm climate, you may not even need to replace your old boiler or central heating system at all. Opt for a heat pump instead, which can take care of air conditioning and moderate heating. 

Fuel Type

What types of fuel are you comfortable purchasing? Depending on your area, some fuel types may be more expensive or challenging to acquire. 

Boiler Energy Efficiency

The right boiler can meet your heating needs without causing your home heating bills to skyrocket. When comparing new boiler models, take into account the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. This efficiency rating indicates how effectively the unit converts fuel to heating energy. Look for a rating of 85% or more, which is considered high-efficiency. 

We also recommend checking if the model is Energy Star certified, as this indicates that the boiler model meets rigorous energy-efficiency standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends upgrading other parts of your home to improve energy efficiency before installing a new boiler. Examples include adding insulation to your attic to prevent heat loss and installing energy-efficient windows. These energy efficiency improvements can save you money on a new boiler or furnace because you can get away with a smaller unit if your home is more energy-efficient. 

Boiler Venting Requirements

boiler vent in a red brick wall
Image Source: Canva

Lastly, consider what kind of venting system will be paired with your new boiler. Chimney-vented boilers release exhaust through a chimney, whereas direct-vent uses fans to push exhaust through a side wall vent or the roof. Power-vent boilers use air from inside, so this boiler can only be installed in open rooms, not a crawl space or small closet. If you opt for a condensing boiler, you’ll need to install special ventilation because of the acidity that the condensation creates. 

Take a moment to assess where the technician will install your boiler, the current boiler venting you have available, and what changes you’re willing to make if you opt for a different type of boiler.

Closing Thoughts

Purchasing and paying for a new boiler installation is significant for any household as it will affect heating bills for years and how soon you’ll need to replace the unit. Fuel source costs are another factor you should weigh heavily before purchasing your new boiler. Consult with a heating engineer for more information on the best boiler for your area and the size of your home. 

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