Whether you’re building a new home or upgrading your current heating system, you have an significant decision to make: Which type of furnace should you buy—gas or electric? 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 in terms of equipment price and the cost of labor for installation 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 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). It all comes down to the lower per-unit cost of natural gas in contrast to electricity, which typically overcomes even a significant difference in AFUE ratings.
Of course, energy costs change 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. 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 operate on the same principles as an air conditioning unit, using refrigerant to transfer 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 generate 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 especially cold days. While this ensures home comfort, it will also increase your utility bills. Cold-climate heat pumps provide more effective performance at low temperatures, so consider this if it regularly drops below freezing where you live.
There’s no doubt that gas and electric furnaces are successful at heating homes, but gas furnaces tend to be more powerful and faster at warming large spaces. Gas furnaces create heat by burning natural gas, which forms hot air that circulates 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 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 family warm at home during the winter.
Both gas and electric furnaces require regular maintenance to ensure safe and efficient functionality. But gas furnaces demand extra maintenance, like 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 carry 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 functionality.
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.
Student loan debt in the United States has been a growing problem for many 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 higher education journey or counseling someone who is, it’s... Continue reading
If you’d like to replace your old furnace, don’t presume that another furnace is the only option. This may be the preferred choice for most North American households, but heat pumps are steadily growing in popularity. Still, the question remains: Is a heat pump your ideal heating system?... Continue reading
If you’re considering an upgrade to 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 as time goes on. With this handy guide, you’ll understand more about AFUE ratings and how they affect... 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.