Gas vs. Electric Furnaces

If you’re dealing with new construction or simply replacing your old heating system, you have an significant decision to make: Will you install a gas furnace or an electric furnace? Or could a heat pump be the right choice? To help you decide, Service Experts would like to offer some comparisons between gas and electric furnaces, in addition to our thoughts about where heat pumps come into play.

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Installation Costs and Specifications

Gas furnaces are usually more expensive to purchase and install than electric furnaces. The equipment itself has more parts that are not required in an electric model, which influences the retail price. Also, gas furnaces require more complex installation and ventilation systems to safely remove combustion gases from the home. This would mean you need more room to allow for the installation. Plus, if you don’t already have a gas line and appliance hookup, you’ll need to install those as well.

In contrast, electric furnaces are fairly simple to install, they won’t need as much space as gas, and don’t necessitate a ventilation system because no combustion fuels are involved. However, they will have to have access to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t common in some older homes. In this case, 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 initial expense of a gas furnace typically provides a financial return rather quickly because it’s much less expensive to operate than an electric furnace. This may surprise you, considering that electric furnaces will often achieve higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). At the end of the day, we look at the lower per-unit price of natural gas compared to electricity, which generally overcomes even a noteworthy difference in AFUE ratings.

Naturally, energy costs change by region and change over time, making electricity less costly in some areas. We’d also recommend choosing an electric heating system if you are planning to use eco-friendly solar panels on your home. However, heat pumps normally cost much less to operate than electric furnaces, so think about this option if you wish to save with an electric-based heating system.

Heat pumps function on the same principles as an air conditioning unit, working with refrigerant to transfer heat rather than producing it from a fuel source. Believe it or not, thanks to a reversing valve, heat pumps can function as efficient air conditioners in the summer, bypassing the need to install a separate cooling system.

While efficiency and cost are two of the positives, heat pumps have some negative aspects. Due to the fact they draw out heat from cold air, the delivery temperature is considerably lower than the gas or electric furnaces. Traditional heat pumps must also fall back on an inefficient electric resistance heater during cold snaps. While this ensures home comfort, it will also increase your utility bills. Cold-climate heat pumps produce 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 successful at keeping your home warm, but gas furnaces tend to be more powerful and faster at increasing the temperature of large spaces. Gas furnaces create heat by burning natural gas, which produces hot air that circulates inside 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 come down to what fuels are available in your area. Gas furnaces must have access to a natural gas line, which isn’t available in some places. Even if gas is offered in your region, you may find it difficult to afford the cost of installing the line, which is understandable. In these cases, an electric furnace or heat pump may be the only viable alternative for keeping your home comfortable in the winter.

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Maintenance and Safety

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

From a safety standpoint, gas furnaces have a moderate risk of carbon monoxide leaks if not taken care of or installed well. This is precisely why you should prioritize routine 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 guarantee safe operation.

Install a New Gas or Electric Furnace

For help learning the best home heating system for you, rely on Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can assess your unique circumstances and help you make a smart decision about what kind of furnace to purchase. We’re so convinced you’ll be happy with our services that we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to set up a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.

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