Regardless if you are building a new house or just replacing your outdated furnace, you have an important decision to make: Will you install a gas furnace or an electric furnace?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, 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 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 remove combustion gases from the home. This means you need more space to allow for 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 due to the fact that there are no fumes from combustion fuels. Having said that, they will require a connection to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t available in some older homes. In this scenario, you will probably 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 much less expensive to operate than an electric furnace. This may surprise you, 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 when compared to electricity, which typically 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 wish to save with an electric-based heating system.
Heat pumps run on the same principles as an air conditioner, using refrigerant to move 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 downsides. Because they generate heat from cold air, the delivery temperature is far lower than that of gas or electric furnaces. Standard heat pumps must also rely on an inefficient electric resistance heater during bitter-cold periods. While this ensures home comfort, it also raises your energy bills. Cold-climate heat pumps offer 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 heating homes, but gas furnaces tend to be more powerful and faster at warming large spaces. Gas furnaces produce heat by burning natural gas, which forms hot air that circulates 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, believe it or not, is not available in every location. Even if gas is offered in your region, you may not want to pay to install a 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 scheduled maintenance to ensure safe and efficient functionality. But gas furnaces demand extra maintenance, including 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.
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 never 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 guidance in determining the optimum 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 type of furnace to install. We’re so confident 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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