Regardless if you are building a new house or just replacing your outdated furnace, you have an important decision to make: Will you install a gas furnace or an electric furnace?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 could a heat pump be the right choice? To help you decide, Service Experts would like to share a few comparisons between gas and electric furnaces, in addition to our thoughts about where heat pumps come into play.
Gas furnaces are generally higher in price and labor cost for installation 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 demand more complex installation and ventilation systems to safely remove 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 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. That said, they will have to have access to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t available in some older homes. In this scenario, 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 usually provides a financial return rather quickly because it’s much less expensive to operate than an electric furnace. That might shock you (no pun intended), 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 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. It also makes sense to choose 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, utilizing 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 add a separate cooling system.
While they are highly efficient in mild temperatures, heat pumps have some drawbacks. Because they extract 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 will also increase your utility bills. Cold-climate heat pumps provide 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 heating large spaces. Gas furnaces generate heat by burning natural gas, which creates hot air that spreads 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 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 find it difficult to afford the cost of installing the 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 additional maintenance, including regular inspections and cleaning of the gas burners and heat exchanger. Remember, electric furnaces still need routine filter changes and inspections of the heating elements and blower motor.
In terms of safety, gas furnaces have a small risk of carbon monoxide leaks if not serviced or installed properly. This is why you should prioritize routine inspections and definitely not 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 optimum home heating system for you, turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can evaluate your unique circumstances and help you make an educated 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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