Boilers have undergone rampant advancements in the past few decades to solidify their place as a practical home heating option that costs less to operate than most furnaces.
Boilers from a few decades ago usually ran at about 68 to 72 percent efficiency, meaning about 30 percent of the energy consumed by a boiler went to waste. Today, high-efficiency boilers operate at 90 to 97 percent efficiency. Mid-efficiency boilers, which cost about half as much as their mid-efficiency counterparts, operate around 80 percent efficiency.
Higher efficiency comes courtesy of a handful of technological improvements. Old boilers relied on a pilot light, a hefty heat exchanger that consumed more energy, and natural drafts to push heat. Today, mid-efficiency boilers use an electric ignition that turns on when the system is turned on, have smaller parts that consume less energy, and push heat using a precise exhaust fan. High-efficiency boilers take those advances a step further, featuring a sealed combustion chamber and a second heat exchanger that condenses gas to further reduce energy use.
That said, you may be better off retrofitting an old boiler with some new advancements rather than paying hefty boiler installation costs associated with a new unit. Because retrofitting can encompass countless tasks and require a wide variety of accessories depending on the style of the old unit, you’ll only know the cost once you get estimates. Then compare those estimates, as well as predicted energy efficiency, to the boiler installation costs and efficiency of a new unit.
BOILER INSTALLATION COSTS
If you’re replacing an old boiler, expect boiler installation costs for mid-efficiency system to cost about $2,500 to $4,000 (80 percent efficiency), and boiler installation costs for a high-efficiency system to cost between $5,000 to $9,000 (90 to 97 percent efficiency).
Those price ranges are roughly the same whether you’re considering a boiler that runs on gas or oil, as well as whether it uses steam-heated radiators or distributes hot water to radiant floor heating or baseboards.
However, there are other factors that could swing boiler installation costs higher or lower.
- You may need a new chimney liner if you’re upgrading to higher efficiency boiler. Generally, this costs about $300 to $700 for gas and $700 to $1,800 for oil.
- Removal of the old unit can range from $300 to $1,500 or more.
- Boilers rated at 95 percent efficiency or higher are eligible for a $150 federal tax credit through Energy Star. Some states may have other tax credits that can curb the cost of high-efficiency systems. Find out your eligibility at Energy Star.