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 several 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 call for more complex installation and ventilation systems to safely get rid of combustion gases from the home. This would mean 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 will not need a ventilation system because there is no fuel used. However, they will need connectivity to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t available in some older homes. In this case, you will probably 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 much 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 cost of natural gas in contrast to electricity, which generally overcomes even a significant difference in AFUE ratings.
Of course, energy costs vary by region and change over time, making electricity less pricey 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 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 install a separate cooling system.
While efficiency and cost are two of the positives, heat pumps have some drawbacks. Because they extract heat from cold air, the delivery temperature is considerably lower than that of gas or electric furnaces. Standard heat pumps must also depend on an inefficient electric resistance heater during especially cold days. While this ensures home comfort, it will also increase your utility bills. Cold-climate heat pumps produce better 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. 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 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 family warm at home during the winter.
Both gas and electric furnaces require consistent maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation. 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 carry a limited 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 operation.
For help determining the best 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 learn more or to set up a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.
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