Gas vs. Electric Furnaces

Whether you’re building a new home or upgrading your current heating system, you have an significant decision to make: Which type of furnace should you buy—gas or electric? Or might a heat pump be the best choice? To assist in your decision-making process, Service Experts would like to share some comparisons between gas and electric furnaces, along with our thoughts about where heat pumps come into play. 

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Installation Costs and Needs 

Gas furnaces are typically higher in price and labor cost for installation than electric furnaces. The equipment by itself has extra hardware that are not necessary in an electric unit, which influences the retail price. In addition, gas furnaces demand more complex installation and ventilation systems to safely take out combustion gases from the home. This would mean you need more space to accommodate 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 can fit into a smaller space, and do not necessitate a ventilation system because there is no fuel used. However, they will require access to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t available in some older homes. In this scenario, you will probably want an electrician to add a new receptacle and upgrade your electric panel. 

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Efficiency and Energy Costs 

The higher initial cost of a gas furnace usually provides an ROI rather quickly because it’s much 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). It all comes down to the lower per-unit expense of natural gas compared to electricity, which generally overcomes even a significant difference in AFUE ratings. 

Of course, energy costs may be different by region and change over time, which can make electricity less costly in some cases. We’d also recommend choosing an electric heating system if you are planning to use eco-friendly solar panels on your home. At the same time, heat pumps typically cost much less to operate than electric furnaces, so look at this option if you wish to save with an electric-based heating system. 

Heat pumps run on the same principles as an air conditioner, using refrigerant to move heat rather than creating it from a fuel source. As a matter of fact, thanks to a reversing valve, heat pumps can double as efficient air conditioners throughout the summer, bypassing the need to install a separate cooling system. 

While efficiency and cost are two of the positives, heat pumps have some drawbacks. Because they draw out heat from cold air, the delivery temperature is far lower than the gas or electric furnaces. Conventional heat pumps must also depend on an inefficient electric resistance heater during especially cold days. While this will assure home comfort, it also raises your energy bills. Cold-climate heat pumps offer more effective performance at low temperatures, so consider this if it regularly drops below freezing where you live. 

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Heating Effectiveness 

Both gas and electric furnaces are effective at heating homes, however gas furnaces are likely to be more powerful and quicker at heating large spaces. Gas furnaces produce heat by burning natural gas, which creates hot air that circulates throughout the home via ductwork. In contrast, electric furnaces use electrical resistance heating, and it simply takes longer to get up to speed. 

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Fuel Accessibility 

The selection of a gas or electric furnace may boil down to what fuels are available in your area. Gas furnaces would need access to a natural gas line, which may or may not be an option. Even if gas is accessible, you may find it difficult to afford the cost of installing the line, which is understandable. As such, an electric furnace or heat pump may be the only viable choice for ensuring your home is cozy this coming winter. 

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Maintenance and Safety 

Both gas and electric furnaces need regular maintenance to assure safe and efficient operation. But gas furnaces demand additional maintenance, like regular inspections and cleaning of the gas burners and heat exchanger. Of course, electric furnaces still need scheduled filter changes and inspections of the heating elements and blower motor. 

From a safety standpoint, gas furnaces carry a moderate risk of carbon monoxide leakage if not maintained or installed properly. This is the reason you should prioritize standard inspections and in no way try to install the furnace on your own. Electric furnaces can’t leak carbon monoxide, but they still should have professional installation and maintenance to ensure safe operation. 

Install a New Gas or Electric Furnace 

For help learning the best home heating system for your family, turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can analyze your unique circumstances and help you make a smart decision about which type of furnace to put in. We’re so sure you’ll be delighted with our services that we provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To get more information or to arrange a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you

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