Gas vs. Electric Furnaces

Whether you’re building a new home or upgrading your current heating system, you have an important decision to make: Will you install a gas furnace or an electric furnace? Or would a heat pump be the best choice? To help you decide, Service Experts would like to share a few comparisons between gas and electric furnaces, along with our thoughts about the ideal scenarios for using a heat pump. 

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Installation Costs and Specifications 

Gas furnaces are generally more expensive in terms of equipment price and the cost of labor for installation than electric furnaces. The equipment itself has more components that are not needed in an electric model, which leads to a higher production cost, thus a higher retail price. In addition, gas furnaces call for more complex installation and ventilation systems to properly take out combustion gases from the home. This would mean you need more area to allow for the installation. Plus, if you don’t already have a gas line and appliance hookup, you’ll need to include that cost into your decision as well.  

On the flip side, electric furnaces are fairly simple to install, they require less space, and will not necessitate a ventilation system due to the fact that there are no fumes from combustion fuels. Having said that, they will have to have access to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t common in some older homes. In this case, you may need an electrician to add a new receptacle and upgrade your electric panel. 

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Efficiency and Energy Costs 

The significant up-front price of a gas furnace typically pays for itself rather quickly because it’s considerably less expensive to operate than an electric furnace. This might be surprising to read, given that electric furnaces can achieve higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). In the end, it boils down to the lower per-unit cost of natural gas when compared to electricity, which often overcomes even a significant difference in AFUE ratings. 

Of course, energy costs vary by region and change over time, thereby making electricity less costly in some cases. It would also makes sense to buy an electric heating system if you have or want to add solar panels to your home. However, heat pumps normally cost considerably less to operate than electric furnaces, so think about this option if you wish to save with an electric-based heating system. 

Heat pumps operate on the same principles as an ac unit, working with refrigerant to move heat rather than producing it from a fuel source. As a matter of fact, thanks to a reversing valve, heat pumps can double as efficient air conditioners in the summer, eliminating the need to add an independent cooling system. 

While they are highly efficient in mild temperatures, heat pumps have some downsides. Given that they draw out heat from cold air, the delivery temperature is far lower than the gas or electric furnaces. Conventional heat pumps must also rely on a less than efficient electric resistance heater during especially cold days. While this ensures home comfort, it will also inflate your monthly energy costs. Cold-climate heat pumps provide more effective performance at low temperatures, so think about this potential option if you live in an area that can experience bitter cold winter days. 

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Heating Effectiveness 

There’s no doubt that gas and electric furnaces are effective at warming your home, however gas furnaces have proven to be more powerful and quicker at heating large spaces. Gas furnaces produce heat by burning natural gas, which creates hot air that circulates across the home via ductwork. In comparison, electric furnaces use electrical resistance heating, which usually takes more time to ramp up. 

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Fuel Accessibility 

The selection of a gas or electric furnace may well boil down to what fuels are obtainable in your community. Gas furnaces must have access to a natural gas line, which, believe it or not, is not available in every location. Even if gas is offered in your region, you may not want to pay to install a line, which is understandable. In these cases, an electric furnace or heat pump may be the only practical choice for ensuring your home is cozy this coming winter. 

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Maintenance and Safety 

Both gas and electric furnaces require consistent maintenance to guarantee safe and efficient performance. But gas furnaces will need added maintenance, like regular inspections and cleaning of the gas burners and heat exchanger. Remember, electric furnaces still need scheduled filter changes and examinations of the heating elements and blower motor. 

In relation to the topic of safety, gas furnaces carry a small risk of carbon monoxide leaks if not serviced or installed well. This is the reason you should prioritize standard inspections and never install a furnace without a professional contractor. Electric furnaces can’t leak carbon monoxide, but they still require professional installation and maintenance to verify safe operation. 

Install a New Gas or Electric Furnace 

For guidance in figuring out the ideal home heating system for your family, select Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can analyze your distinct circumstances and help you make an informed decision about what kind of furnace to install. We’re so convinced you’ll be satisfied with our services that we have a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or to set up a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you

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