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 some comparisons between gas and electric furnaces, as well as offer our thoughts about the ideal scenarios for using a heat pump.
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 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 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 will often achieve higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). It all comes down to the lower per-unit cost of natural gas 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. 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 function 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 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 improved performance at low temperatures, so think about this potential option if you live in an area that can experience bitter cold winter days.
Both gas and electric furnaces are reliable at warming your home, but gas furnaces tend to be more powerful and faster at warming large spaces. Gas furnaces generate heat by burning natural gas, which creates 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, believe it or not, is not available in every location. 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 functionality. But gas furnaces demand extra 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 should have professional installation and maintenance to ensure safe functionality.
For guidance in determining the optimum 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 provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To get more information or to schedule a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.
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