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 when you should consider heat pumps.
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 include that cost into your decision 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 have to have access to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t available in some older homes. In this scenario, you will probably need an electrician to install a new receptacle and upgrade your electric panel.
The higher up-front expense of a gas furnace typically provides an ROI rather quickly because it’s much less expensive to operate than an electric furnace. This may surprise you, given that electric furnaces are likely to achieve higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). It all comes down to the lower per-unit expense 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 costly in some cases. We’d also recommend choosing an electric heating system if you currently have or want to install solar panels. Bear in mind, 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 run 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 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. Traditional 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.
Without question, gas and electric furnaces are effective at warming your home, but gas furnaces tend to be more powerful and faster at warming large spaces. Gas furnaces generate heat by burning natural gas, which creates hot air that disperses throughout the home via ductwork. In comparison, 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 available in your region. 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 keeping your home comfortable in the winter.
Both gas and electric furnaces require regular maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation. But gas furnaces will need extra maintenance, like regular inspections and cleaning of the gas burners and heat exchanger. Of course, electric furnaces still need routine filter changes and inspections of the heating elements and blower motor.
In terms of safety, gas furnaces have 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 need to have professional installation and maintenance to verify safe operation.
For guidance in determining the ideal home heating system for you, rely on Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can analyze your unique circumstances and help you make an informed decision about what kind of furnace to install. We’re so sure you’ll be satisfied with our services that we provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee! To learn more or to arrange a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.
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