Whether you’re building a new home or upgrading your current heating system, you have an significant decision to make: Should you buy a gas furnace or shift to an electric unit? 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, as well as offer our thoughts about where heat pumps come into play.
Gas furnaces are generally higher in price and labor cost for installation than electric furnaces. The equipment itself has additional 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. 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 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 due to the fact that there are no fumes from combustion fuels. That said, they will have to have access to a 240-volt electrical circuit, which isn’t available in some older homes. As such, you may need an electrician to install 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 considerably less expensive to operate than an electric furnace. That might shock you (no pun intended), 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 hope to save with an electric-based heating system.
Heat pumps function on the same principles as an ac unit, using 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 much 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 produce better performance at low temperatures, so consider this if it regularly drops below freezing where you live.
Both gas and electric furnaces are successful 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 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 area. 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 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 ensuring your home is cozy this coming winter.
Both gas and electric furnaces require regular maintenance to ensure safe and efficient functionality. But gas furnaces will need extra maintenance, like regular inspections and cleaning of the gas burners and heat exchanger. Of course, electric furnaces still should have 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 definitely not 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 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 provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to set up a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.
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