Regardless if you are building a new house or just replacing your outdated furnace, you have an important decision to make: Will you install a gas furnace or an electric furnace? Or would a heat pump be the right choice? To help you decide, Service Experts would like to share some comparisons between gas and electric furnaces, along with our thoughts about the ideal scenarios for using a heat pump.
Gas furnaces are generally more expensive to purchase and install than electric furnaces. The equipment by itself has extra components that are not needed in an electric system, which drives up the price tag. Then, gas furnaces demand more complex installation and ventilation systems to safely remove combustion gases from the home. Therefore, 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 install those as well.
On the other hand, electric furnaces are relatively simple to install, they require less space, and do not need a ventilation system because no combustion fuels are involved. That said, they will have to have access to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t available in some older homes. In this scenario, you will most likely need an electrician to set up a new receptacle and upgrade your electric panel.
The higher up-front cost of a gas furnace normally pays for itself rather quickly because it’s considerably less expensive to operate than an electric furnace. That might shock you (no pun intended), given that electric furnaces are likely to 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 typically overcomes even a significant difference in AFUE ratings.
Of course, energy costs vary by region and change over time, making electricity less costly in some cases. We’d also recommend choosing an electric heating system if you currently have or want to install solar panels. Bear in mind, heat pumps typically cost much less to operate than electric furnaces, so consider this option if you hope to save with an electric-based heating system.
Heat pumps run on the same principles as an air conditioner, utilizing refrigerant to transfer heat rather than generating it from a fuel source. In fact, thanks to a reversing valve, heat pumps can double as efficient air conditioners in the summer, eliminating the need to use a separate cooling system.
While they are highly efficient in mild temperatures, heat pumps have some drawbacks. Because they extract heat from cold air, the delivery temperature is far lower than that of gas or electric furnaces. Conventional heat pumps must also rely on an inefficient electric resistance heater during bitter-cold periods. While this ensures home comfort, it also raises your energy bills. Cold-climate heat pumps produce better performance at low temperatures, and you’ll want to look into this option if you live in a subzero winter climate.
Without question, gas and electric furnaces are effective at keeping your home warm, but gas furnaces tend to be more powerful and faster at heating large spaces. Gas furnaces create heat by burning natural gas, which produces hot air that spreads throughout the home via ductwork. In contrast, electric furnaces use electrical resistance heating, which takes longer to warm up.
The choice of a gas or electric furnace may come down to what fuels are accessible in your area. Gas furnaces require 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 option for keeping your home comfortable in the winter.
Both gas and electric furnaces require consistent maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation. But gas furnaces require added maintenance, including regular inspections and cleaning of the gas burners and heat exchanger. Remember, electric furnaces still need routine filter changes and inspections of the heating elements and blower motor.
In terms of safety, gas furnaces bring a small risk of carbon monoxide leaks if not serviced or installed properly. This is why you should prioritize routine inspections and never attempt a DIY furnace installation. Electric furnaces can’t leak carbon monoxide, but they still need to have professional installation and maintenance to verify safe operation.
For help determining the optimum home heating system for you, turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can analyze your unique circumstances and help you make an informed decision about what type of furnace to install. We’re so sure you’ll be satisfied with our services that we provide 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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