Whether you’re building a new home or upgrading your current heating system, you have an significant decision to make: Should you buy a gas furnace or shift to an electric unit? 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 when you should consider heat pumps.
Gas furnaces are generally more expensive to purchase and install than electric furnaces. The equipment itself has more 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. This means you need more space to handle 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 don’t need a ventilation system because there is no fuel used. However, they will need a connection to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t available in some older homes. As such, you may need an electrician to add a new receptacle and upgrade your electric panel.
The higher up-front expense of a gas furnace typically pays for itself rather quickly because it’s considerably less expensive to operate than an electric furnace. This may surprise you, given that electric furnaces will often achieve higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). It all comes down to the lower per-unit expense of natural gas compared to electricity, which often overcomes even a significant difference in AFUE ratings.
Of course, energy costs change by region and change over time, making electricity cheaper in some cases. It would also makes sense to buy 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 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 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. Traditional heat pumps must also fall back on an inefficient electric resistance heater during especially cold days. While this ensures home comfort, it will also inflate your monthly energy costs. Cold-climate heat pumps offer improved performance at low temperatures, and you’ll want to look into this option if you live in a subzero winter climate.
Without question, gas and electric furnaces are effective at keeping your home warm, but gas furnaces tend to be more powerful and faster at warming large spaces. Gas furnaces create 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 selection 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 may or may not be an option. 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 scheduled maintenance to ensure safe and efficient performance. But gas furnaces require extra maintenance, including 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.
In terms of safety, 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 in no way attempt a DIY furnace installation. Electric furnaces can’t leak carbon monoxide, but they still require professional installation and maintenance to guarantee safe performance.
For help determining the best home heating system for you, select Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can assess your unique circumstances and help you make a smart decision about which type of furnace to purchase. We’re so convinced you’ll be satisfied with our services that we offer 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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