Whether you’re building a new home or upgrading your current heating system, you have an significant decision to make: Will you install a gas furnace or an electric furnace? Or could a heat pump be the right choice? To help you decide, Service Experts would like to share some comparisons between gas and electric furnaces, in addition to our thoughts about where heat pumps come into play.
Gas furnaces are generally more expensive to purchase and install than electric furnaces. The equipment itself has extra components that are not needed in an electric system, which influences the retail price. 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 include that cost into your decision as well.
On the other hand, electric furnaces are relatively simple to install, they require less space, and don’t need a ventilation system due to the fact that there are no fumes from combustion fuels. Having said that, they will require a connection to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t available in some older homes. In this scenario, you will probably need an electrician to install 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 considerably less expensive to operate than an electric furnace. This may surprise you, 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 significant difference in AFUE ratings.
Of course, energy costs vary by region and change over time, making electricity less pricey in some cases. It also makes sense to choose 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 hope to save with an electric-based heating system.
Heat pumps operate 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 install a separate cooling system.
While they are highly efficient in mild temperatures, heat pumps have some drawbacks. Because they draw out heat from cold air, the delivery temperature is far lower than that of gas or electric furnaces. Traditional heat pumps must also fall back 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 improved 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 warming your home, but gas furnaces tend to be more powerful and faster at heating large spaces. Gas furnaces generate heat by burning natural gas, which creates hot air that circulates throughout the home via ductwork. In comparison, 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 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 be unable to afford the cost of installing the gas 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 scheduled 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. Of course, electric furnaces still need routine filter changes and inspections of the heating elements and blower motor.
In terms of safety, gas furnaces have a limited 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 require professional installation and maintenance to ensure safe operation.
For assistance determining the best 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 kind of furnace to put in. We’re so confident you’ll be satisfied with our services that we have 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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