Whether you’re building a new home or upgrading your current heating system, you have an significant 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 share several comparisons between gas and electric furnaces, as well as offer our thoughts about where heat pumps come into play.
Gas furnaces are generally higher in price and labor cost for installation than electric furnaces. The equipment alone has more components that are not needed in an electric system, which drives up the price tag. Then, gas furnaces call for more complex installation and ventilation systems to safely remove 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 factor in that expense too.
On the other hand, electric furnaces are relatively simple to install, they require less space, and will not need a ventilation system because there is no fuel used. 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.
The higher up-front cost of a gas furnace typically pays for itself rather quickly because it’s often less expensive to operate than an electric furnace. That might shock you (no pun intended), given that electric furnaces can achieve higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). It all comes down to the lower per-unit cost of natural gas compared to electricity, which generally overcomes even a significant difference in AFUE ratings.
Of course, energy costs vary by region and change over time, making electricity cheaper in some cases. We’d also recommend choosing an electric heating system if you currently have or want to install solar panels. However, heat pumps typically cost much less to operate than electric furnaces, so consider this option if you wish to save with an electric-based heating system.
Heat pumps run on the same principles as an air conditioner, working with refrigerant to move 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 install a separate cooling system.
While efficiency and cost are two of the positives, heat pumps have some drawbacks. Because they generate heat from cold air, the delivery temperature is far lower than that of gas or electric furnaces. Standard heat pumps must also rely on an inefficient electric resistance heater during especially cold days. While this ensures home comfort, it also raises your energy bills. Cold-climate heat pumps provide improved performance at low temperatures, so consider this if it regularly drops below freezing where you live.
Without question, gas and electric furnaces are effective at warming your home, but gas furnaces tend to be more powerful and faster at warming large spaces. Gas furnaces generate heat by burning natural gas, which creates hot air that spreads inside the home via ductwork. Alternatively, 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 obtainable in your community. 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 not want to pay to install a line, which is understandable. In these cases, an electric furnace or heat pump may be the only viable option for ensuring your home is cozy this coming winter.
Both gas and electric furnaces require regular maintenance to ensure safe and efficient functionality. But gas furnaces require added maintenance, including regular inspections and cleaning of the gas burners and heat exchanger. Of course, electric furnaces still should have routine filter changes and inspections of the heating elements and blower motor.
In terms of safety, gas furnaces carry a small risk of carbon monoxide leaks if not taken care of or installed properly. This is why you should prioritize routine inspections and in no way attempt a DIY furnace installation. Electric furnaces can’t leak carbon monoxide, but they still require professional installation and maintenance to verify safe functionality.
For help determining the optimum home heating system for you, turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can evaluate your unique circumstances and help you make an informed decision about what type of furnace to install. We’re so confident you’ll be satisfied with our services that we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to schedule a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.
Student loan debt in the United States has been a growing problem for years. Today’s total student debt is more than $1.7 trillion, with the average college graduate owing $20,000 to $25,000. If you’re contemplating your educational journey or advising someone who is, it’s important to weigh... Continue reading
When you’re ready to replace your old furnace, don’t assume that a new furnace is your only choice. This may be the default choice for most North American households, but heat pumps are steadily growing in popularity. Still, the question remains: Is a heat pump the best choice for you? Explore... Continue reading
If you’re thinking about upgrading your furnace, an important first step is to decide on an efficiency rating. This will impact your up-front costs and what you pay for home heating in the future. Use this guide to learn more about AFUE ratings and how they affect you. What Is an AFUE... Continue reading
© 2023 Service Experts, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, and the Service Experts logo and design are registered trademarks of Service Experts LLC and used under license by SE Canada Inc. All Rights Reserved. *Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions.