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: Should you buy a gas furnace or shift to an electric unit? Or would a heat pump be the best choice? To help you decide, Service Experts would like to provide several comparisons between gas and electric furnaces, in addition to our thoughts about when you should consider heat pumps. 

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Installation Costs and Specifications 

Gas furnaces are generally more expensive in terms of equipment price and the cost of labor 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 get rid of combustion gases from the home. This means 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 flip side, electric furnaces are relatively simple to install, they won’t need as much space as gas, and will not require a ventilation system because there is no fuel used. Having said that, they will need connectivity to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t always present in some older homes. In this scenario, you may want an electrician to add a new receptacle and upgrade your electric panel. 

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Efficiency and Energy Costs 

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

Naturally, energy costs change by region and change over time, making electricity cheaper in some cases. It would also makes sense to buy 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 look at this option if you expect to save with an electric-based heating system. 

Heat pumps operate on the same principles as an ac unit, working with refrigerant to move heat rather than generating it from a fuel source. Believe it or not, thanks to a reversing valve, heat pumps can act as efficient air conditioners in the summer, cutting out the need to install a separate cooling system. 

While efficiency and cost are two of the positives, heat pumps have some downsides. Because they extract heat from cold air, the delivery temperature is much lower than the gas or electric furnaces. Traditional heat pumps must also depend on an inefficient electric resistance heater during cold snaps. While this guarantees home comfort, it will also increase your utility bills. Cold-climate heat pumps offer more effective performance at low temperatures, so think about this potential option if you live in an area that can experience bitter cold winter days. 

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Heating Effectiveness 

Without question, gas and electric furnaces are successful at warming your home, but gas furnaces have proven to be more powerful and faster at heating large spaces. Gas furnaces create heat by burning natural gas, which creates hot air that spreads throughout the home via ductwork. Alternatively, electric furnaces use electrical resistance heating, which takes longer to warm up. 

Gas vs. Electric Furnace Fuel Supply 

The choice 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 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 practical solution 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 ensure safe and efficient operation. But gas furnaces demand additional maintenance, such as 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. 

From a safety standpoint, gas furnaces carry a moderate risk of carbon monoxide leakage if not taken care of or installed properly. That’s why you should prioritize scheduled inspections and definitely not install a furnace without a professional contractor. Electric furnaces can’t leak carbon monoxide, but they still require professional installation and maintenance to ensure safe functionality. 

Install a New Gas or Electric Furnace 

For help figuring out the optimum home heating system for you, rely on Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can evaluate your unique circumstances and help you make an informed decision about what type of furnace to purchase. We’re so confident you’ll be happy with our services that we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to arrange a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you

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