If you’re dealing with new construction or simply replacing your old heating system, 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 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 influences the retail price. Then, gas furnaces require more complex installation and ventilation systems to safely remove 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 will not 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 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 much less expensive to operate than an electric furnace. This might be surprising to read, given that electric furnaces are likely to achieve higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). At the end of the day, we look at the lower per-unit cost of natural gas compared to electricity, which often overcomes even a significant difference in AFUE ratings.
Of course, energy costs vary 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. At the same time, 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 ac unit, 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 negative aspects. 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 offer improved performance at low temperatures, and you’ll want to look into this option if you live in a subzero winter climate.
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 increasing the temperature of large spaces. Gas furnaces produce heat by burning natural gas, which produces hot air that disperses throughout the home via ductwork. Alternatively, 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 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 regular maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation. But gas furnaces will need 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 relation to the topic of safety, gas furnaces carry a limited risk of carbon monoxide leaks if not taken care of 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 should have professional installation and maintenance to ensure safe operation.
For help determining the ideal home heating system for you, turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can assess your unique circumstances and help you make a smart decision about which type of furnace to install. 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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