Gas vs. Electric Furnaces

Whether you’re building a new home or upgrading your current heating system, you have an important decision to make: Should you buy a gas furnace or shift to an electric unit? Or might a heat pump be the best choice? In order to help you choose, Service Experts would like to share some 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 Specifications

Gas furnaces are usually higher in price and labor cost for installation than electric furnaces. The equipment alone has extra parts that are not required in an electric model, which drives up the price tag. In addition, gas furnaces demand more complicated installation and ventilation systems to safely get rid of combustion gases from the home. Therefore, you need more space to allow for 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 other hand, electric furnaces are relatively simple to install, they can fit into a smaller space, and do not require a ventilation system because no combustion fuels are involved. However, they will need connectivity to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t available in some older homes. In this case, you will probably need an electrician to set up a new receptacle and upgrade your electric panel.

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Efficiency and Energy Costs

The higher initial cost of a gas furnace typically pays for itself rather quickly because it’s often 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 expense of natural gas when compared to electricity, which typically overcomes even a noteworthy difference in AFUE ratings.

Of course, energy costs may be different by region and change over time, making electricity less pricey in some areas. It also makes sense to choose an electric heating system if you currently have or want to install solar panels. However, heat pumps generally 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 run on the same principles as an air conditioning unit, using refrigerant to move heat rather than generating it from a fuel source. As a matter of fact, thanks to a reversing valve, heat pumps can serve as efficient air conditioners during the summer, cutting out the need to use an independent cooling system.

While efficiency and cost are two of the positives, heat pumps have some negative aspects. Due to the fact they extract heat from cold air, the delivery temperature is much lower than the gas or electric furnaces. Standard heat pumps must also fall back on an inefficient electric resistance heater during bitter-cold periods. While this ensures home comfort, it will also inflate your monthly energy costs. Cold-climate heat pumps offer improved performance at low temperatures, so consider this if it regularly drops below freezing where you live.

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Heating Effectiveness

There’s no doubt that gas and electric furnaces are effective at keeping your home warm, but gas furnaces are likely to be more powerful and faster at increasing the temperature of large spaces. Gas furnaces generate heat by burning natural gas, which forms hot air that spreads inside the home via ductwork. Alternatively, electric furnaces use electrical resistance heating, which takes longer to warm up.

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Fuel Availability

The final decision of a gas or electric furnace could come down to what fuels are obtainable in your area. 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 accessible, 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 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 performance. But gas furnaces demand added maintenance, including regular inspections and cleaning of the gas burners and heat exchanger. Of course, electric furnaces still need regular filter changes and inspections of the heating elements and blower motor.

In relation to the topic of safety, gas furnaces carry a moderate risk of carbon monoxide leaks if not serviced or installed appropriately. This is why you should prioritize scheduled inspections and in no way try to install the furnace on your own. Electric furnaces can’t leak carbon monoxide, but they still need to have professional installation and maintenance to verify safe operation.

Install a New Gas or Electric Furnace

For guidance in choosing the ideal home heating system for your home, turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can analyze your unique circumstances and help you make a smart decision about what kind of furnace to install. We’re so sure you’ll be delighted with our services that we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or to arrange a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.

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