If you’re dealing with new construction or simply replacing your old heating system, 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 a few comparisons between gas and electric furnaces, in addition to 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 extra components that are not needed in an electric system, which drives up the price tag. Then, gas furnaces require more complex installation and ventilation systems to safely take out 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 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. Having said that, they will require connectivity to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t available in some older homes. In this case, 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 typically provides an ROI rather quickly because it’s much less expensive to operate than an electric furnace. This may surprise you, given that electric furnaces can achieve higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). At the end of the day, we look at 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 less costly in some cases. It also makes sense to choose an electric heating system if you currently have or want to install solar panels. At the same time, 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, using 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 use a separate cooling system.
While they are highly efficient in mild temperatures, heat pumps have some negative aspects. Because they extract heat from cold air, the delivery temperature is far lower than that of gas or electric furnaces. Standard heat pumps must also depend on an inefficient electric resistance heater during cold snaps. While this ensures home comfort, it will also inflate your monthly energy costs. Cold-climate heat pumps offer better performance at low temperatures, and you’ll want to look into this option if you live in a subzero winter climate.
There’s no doubt that gas and electric furnaces are reliable at warming your home, but gas furnaces tend to be more powerful and faster at increasing the temperature of large spaces. Gas furnaces produce heat by burning natural gas, which produces hot air that disperses 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 available 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 performance. But gas furnaces require extra 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 maintained or installed properly. This is why you should prioritize routine inspections and definitely not attempt a DIY furnace installation. Electric furnaces can’t leak carbon monoxide, but they still require professional installation and maintenance to verify safe performance.
For help determining the best home heating system for you, select Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can assess 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 set up a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.
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