If you’re dealing with new construction or simply replacing your old heating system, you have an key 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 several comparisons between gas and electric furnaces, as well as offer our thoughts about where heat pumps come into play.
Gas furnaces are generally more expensive to purchase and install than electric furnaces. The equipment by itself 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 get rid of combustion gases from the home. Therefore, 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 do not need a ventilation system because no combustion fuels are involved. However, they will need access to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t available in some older homes. In this scenario, you will probably need an electrician to add a new receptacle and upgrade your electric panel.
The higher up-front price of a gas furnace usually 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 price of natural gas when compared to electricity, which typically overcomes even a significant difference in AFUE ratings.
Of course, energy costs may be different 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. Bear in mind, heat pumps typically cost much less to operate than electric furnaces, so consider this option if you expect to save with an electric-based heating system.
Heat pumps operate on the same principles as an air conditioner, using refrigerant to shift 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 drawbacks. Because they generate heat from cold air, the delivery temperature is far lower than that of gas or electric furnaces. Conventional heat pumps must also rely on an inefficient electric resistance heater during cold snaps. While this ensures home comfort, it also raises your energy bills. Cold-climate heat pumps offer more effective performance at low temperatures, so consider this if it regularly drops below freezing where you live.
Both gas and electric furnaces are reliable at keeping your home warm, but gas furnaces tend to be more powerful and faster at heating large spaces. Gas furnaces create heat by burning natural gas, which forms hot air that circulates across the home via ductwork. In comparison, electric furnaces use electrical resistance heating, which takes longer to warm up.
The final decision 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 keeping your home comfortable in the winter.
Both gas and electric furnaces require regular maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation. But gas furnaces demand additional maintenance, like regular inspections and cleaning of the gas burners and heat exchanger. Of course, electric furnaces still require routine filter changes and inspections of the heating elements and blower motor.
From a safety standpoint, 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 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 ideal 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 kind of furnace to install. We’re so sure you’ll be satisfied with our services that we have a 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to schedule a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.
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