Regardless if you are building a new house or just replacing your outdated furnace, you have an important decision to make: Will you install a gas furnace or an electric furnace?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 some comparisons between gas and electric furnaces, as well as offer 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 alone has more components that are not needed in an electric system, which leads to a higher production cost, thus a higher retail price. Then, gas furnaces demand 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 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 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 add 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 can achieve higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). It all comes down to the lower per-unit expense of natural gas in contrast to electricity, which typically overcomes even a significant difference in AFUE ratings.
Of course, energy costs change by region and change over time, making electricity cheaper 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 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 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. 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 offer improved 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. Alternatively, 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 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 consistent maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation. But gas furnaces will need extra maintenance, including 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.
From a safety standpoint, gas furnaces bring a small risk of carbon monoxide leaks if not serviced 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 purchase. We’re so convinced 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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