Gas vs. Electric Furnaces

Regardless if you are building a new house or just replacing your outdated furnace, you have an key decision to make: Should you buy a gas furnace or shift to an electric unit? Or could a heat pump be the right choice? To help you decide, Service Experts would like to offer several comparisons between gas and electric furnaces, in addition to our thoughts about the ideal scenarios for using a heat pump.

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Installation Costs and Needs

Gas furnaces are generally more expensive to purchase and install than electric furnaces. The equipment itself has more parts that are not needed in an electric model, which drives up the price tag. In addition, gas furnaces require more complicated installation and ventilation systems to safely remove combustion gases from the home. This means you need more room to accommodate the installation. Plus, if you didn’t have a gas line and appliance hookup, you’ll need to factor in that expense too.

On the flip side, electric furnaces are fairly simple to install, they require less space, and will not require a ventilation system because there is no fuel used. That said, they will need a connection to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t always present in some older homes. In this scenario, you will probably need an electrician to install a new receptacle and upgrade your electric panel.

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Efficiency and Energy Costs

The increased up-front expense of a gas furnace typically provides a financial return rather quickly because it’s much less expensive to run than an electric furnace. This may surprise you, considering 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 in contrast to electricity, which generally overcomes even a noteworthy difference in AFUE ratings.

Naturally, energy costs vary by region and change over time, which can make electricity less pricey in some instances. It also makes sense to choose an electric heating system if you have or want to add solar panels to your home. Bear in mind, heat pumps typically cost much less to operate than electric furnaces, so think about this option if you expect to save with an electric-based heating system.

Heat pumps function on the same principles as an ac unit, working with refrigerant to transfer heat rather than creating it from a fuel source. In fact, thanks to a reversing valve, heat pumps can serve as efficient air conditioners in the summer, bypassing the need to add an independent cooling system.

While efficiency and cost are two of the positives, heat pumps have some negative aspects. Due to the fact they generate heat from cold air, the delivery temperature is considerably lower than that of gas or electric furnaces. Conventional heat pumps must also fall back on an inefficient electric resistance heater during bitter-cold periods. While this will assure home comfort, it also raises your energy bills. Cold-climate heat pumps produce 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

Both gas and electric furnaces are successful at keeping your home warm, however gas furnaces are likely to be more powerful and faster at warming large spaces. Gas furnaces create heat by burning natural gas, which produces 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 choice of a gas or electric furnace could boil down to what fuels are accessible in your community. Gas furnaces require access to a natural gas line, which, believe it or not, is not available in every location. Even if you can get natural gas, you may be unable to afford the cost of installing the gas line, which is understandable. As such, an electric furnace or heat pump may be the only viable option for ensuring your home is cozy this coming winter.

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Maintenance and Safety

Both gas and electric furnaces would need scheduled maintenance to guarantee safe and efficient functionality. But gas furnaces will need added maintenance, including regular inspections and cleaning of the gas burners and heat exchanger. Of course, electric furnaces still need regular filter changes and examinations of the heating elements and blower motor.

In terms of safety, gas furnaces bring a limited risk of carbon monoxide leaks if not taken care of or installed appropriately. This is the reason you should prioritize standard inspections and never attempt a DIY furnace installation. 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 help determining the ideal home heating system for you, select Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can analyze your unique circumstances and help you make a smart decision about what kind of furnace to purchase. We’re so confident you’ll be happy with our services that we have a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or to schedule a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.

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