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 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, 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 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 normally pays for itself rather quickly because it’s considerably less expensive to operate than an electric furnace. That might shock you (no pun intended), 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 often 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. We’d also recommend choosing 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, 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 much lower than that of gas or electric furnaces. Standard heat pumps must also fall back 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 produce better performance at low temperatures, so consider this if it regularly drops below freezing where you live.
Without question, gas and electric furnaces are effective at keeping your home warm, 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 inside the home via ductwork. Alternatively, 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 available in your region. 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 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 consistent maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation. But gas furnaces demand extra maintenance, such as regular inspections and cleaning of the gas burners and heat exchanger. Naturally, electric furnaces still require routine filter changes and inspections of the heating elements and blower motor.
From a safety standpoint, gas furnaces have a moderate 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 optimum home heating system for you, turn to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can assess your unique circumstances and help you make an informed decision about which type of furnace to put in. We’re so confident you’ll be satisfied with our services that we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or to arrange a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.
Student loan debt across the nation has been a growing issue for a very long time. Today’s total student debt is more than $1.7 trillion, with the average college graduate owing $20,000 to $25,000. If you’re considering your higher education journey or advising someone who is, it’s important... Continue reading
If you’d like to replace your old furnace, don’t assume that a new furnace is your only choice. This may be the preferred choice for most North American homes, but heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular. Still, the question remains: Is a heat pump your ideal heating system? Explore... Continue reading
If you’re thinking about upgrading your furnace, an early choice in the process is to determine an efficiency rating. That first choice will influence your up-front costs and what you pay for home heating down the road. This guide is intended to inform you about AFUE ratings and how they affect... Continue reading
© 2023 Service Experts, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, and the Service Experts logo and design are registered trademarks of Service Experts LLC and used under license by SE Canada Inc. All Rights Reserved. *Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions.