Regardless if you are building a new house or just replacing your outdated furnace, you have an important decision to make: Will you install a gas furnace or an electric furnace? Or might a heat pump be the right choice? To help you decide, Service Experts would like to share some comparisons between gas and electric furnaces, along with 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 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. Having said that, they will require a connection to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t available in some older homes. In this case, you may need an electrician to install a new receptacle and upgrade your electric panel.
The higher up-front cost of a gas furnace normally 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). At the end of the day, we look at 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 cheaper in some cases. We’d also recommend choosing 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 expect to save with an electric-based heating system.
Heat pumps operate on the same principles as an air conditioner, utilizing 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.
Although there are plenty of good things to say about them, heat pumps have some downsides. 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 fall back 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.
Without question, gas and electric furnaces are effective 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 selection of a gas or electric furnace may come down to what fuels are accessible 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 ensuring your home is cozy this coming winter.
Both gas and electric furnaces require consistent maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation. But gas furnaces require extra 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 carry a moderate 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 verify safe operation.
For help determining the optimum home heating system for you, turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can assess your unique circumstances and help you make an informed decision about which type of furnace to put in. We’re so confident you’ll be satisfied with our services that we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or to arrange a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.
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