Whether you’re building a new home or upgrading your current heating system, you have an important 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 when you should consider heat pumps.
Gas furnaces are generally higher in price and labor cost for installation than electric furnaces. The equipment alone has more 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. This means you need more space to handle 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 will not need a ventilation system because no combustion fuels are involved. That said, they will need a connection 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 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 will often 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 may be different by region and change over time, making electricity cheaper in some cases. It would also makes sense to buy 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 expect to save with an electric-based heating system.
Heat pumps operate on the same principles as an air conditioner, working with 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 negative aspects. Because they extract heat from cold air, the delivery temperature is far lower than that of gas or electric furnaces. Standard heat pumps must also depend on an inefficient electric resistance heater during cold snaps. While this ensures home comfort, it will also inflate your monthly energy costs. 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 keeping your home warm, but gas furnaces tend to be more powerful and faster at heating large spaces. Gas furnaces create 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 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, 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 ensuring your home is cozy this coming winter.
Both gas and electric furnaces require regular maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation. But gas furnaces require 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 bring a small risk of carbon monoxide leaks if not maintained or installed properly. This is why you should prioritize routine inspections and in no way 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, select Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We can assess 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 have a 100% satisfaction guarantee! For more information or to schedule a free furnace installation estimate, please contact a Service Experts office near you.
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