Maintaining your house and keeping it comfortable is crucial especially when the temperatures are significantly low. And, having a functional furnace is one of the most effective ways of doing this.
However, most homeowners are struggling with skyrocketing energy bills due to their homes’ appliances. And in this case, most people have opted or are contemplating about going for a gas furnace to save on energy bills.
But is a gas furnace the ultimate solution? Does a gas furnace use electricity or does it rely entirely on gas? These are some questions that one should answer before making that final purchase decision.
Well, the truth is, the furnace still uses electricity. But, quite moderately! For instance, it only consumes around 600 watts of electricity, which is fair.
So, what happens when the electricity goes out? Will the gas furnace still operate? This piece has answers to all these questions and more. It will highlight how much electricity a gas furnace consumes, what happens when power goes off, and the importance of having that gas furnace in your home.
The Importance of a Gas Furnace Needing Electricity
Most people assume that the gas furnace will continue operating even after the power goes out. However, this is not the case. The electronic ignition systems, programmable thermostats and the blower motor are all among the main elements of a furnace and require electricity to work.
Blower Fan Motor
Generally, the furnace still generates combustible heat even without electricity. However, if the blower fan is not functioning, the heat will go nowhere. And since it requires electricity to power the blower fan, the furnace will shut down automatically when power goes off.
But it doesn’t mean that every time the furnace shuts down, the power is to blame. There might be other issues. In fact, you should have a professional examine your HVAC unit if;
- There are loud and weird sounds coming from the blower motor
- Airflow is weak
- The furnace is overheating
The worst thing that can occur is your unit going out because of a problem other than power issues. It can be an expensive affair to do repairs and hence there’s a need to always be keen on what is happening to the furnace.
Electronic Ignition Systems
There are two types of electronic ignition systems: hot-surface and intermittent pilot’s igniters. Both of them are viewed as modern furnaces. They are energy-efficient and are considered very safe. If there is no electricity, the furnace will not be able to function.
It may sound inconvenient in the event of a power outage. But the electrical elements in a gas furnace assists in keeping the system safer. For instance, when a furnace is overburdened, it affects how the circuit breaker operates.
Another reason why a gas furnace uses electricity is because of the programmable thermostat. The programmable thermostat requires electricity to function and also gather information to the particular systems that it controls.
How Much Electricity Does a Gas Furnace Use?
The winter season will require around 150 BTU of heat to keep your home warm using a gas. And this translates to approximately $500 per month. So, since the winter will last round three months or so, expect to part with at least $1500 for the season.
Usually, the main consumer of electricity in a gas furnace is the fan system. While modern furnaces have a more efficient fan system, old ones could consume significant amounts of power.
If you have an old furnace, you’ll notice that it consists of a one-speed fan. This means that even when the temperatures are up, the fan still continues to blow at full speed. And this will undoubtedly consume more electricity.
Luckily, technological advancements have brought about the use of variable-speed fan motors in new gas furnaces. A gas furnace with a variable-speed motor is able to function at various levels of output, subsequently lowering power consumption.
This way, you require less cooling and heating in your home when the conditions are moderate.
Does a Furnace Use Gas or Electricity to Heat Your Home?
The functionality of a gas furnace is easy. The main component of the gas furnace is the burner. Most of them come with more than two interior burners that are maintained by a thermostat.
If the temperatures in your house are below a particular level, the gas starts to flow and an electronic ignition unit ignites the furnace. The hot gas is raised and goes through a heat exchanger and into the ductwork.
Let us take a look at the main elements in a gas furnace, to better understands how it works;
- Thermostat: it is tasked with communicating necessary temperature information with your HVAC unit
- Heat exchanger: it is used in warming up the air in the gas furnace
- The blower motor: it directs air to the heat exchanger and outside your home too
- Burners: it is where the metal tubes of natural gas travel.
What to do When a Gas Furnace Fails to Turn On After the Power is Back
There are instances where the gas furnace does not switch on when the electricity is restored. The following are the things that you should do in case this happens;
- Ensure that your gas furnace switch is on;
- Examine the control panel on the gas furnace. Does it flash with an error message? If yes, it is an indicator that something needs repair or replacement. Contact a HVAC professional in this case;
- Look out for a breaker or blown fuses that has tripped;
- Locate the vent and ensure it is not blocked with ice or snow;
- The safety lock will be on. If you press the reset button for a few minutes when trying to reboot the gas furnace, it will turn on the safety lock. Be patient and wait for a while, then proceed to press on the reset button once until it comes on.
- Examine the thermostat. Ensure that once you switch it on, it is functioning as expected. If it does not, contact an expert to come and fix this issue.
Lastly, it is important to do regular maintenance on your gas furnace to keep it in check. This can be done at least twice every year.
Depending on where you are located, your gas furnace will have a lifespan of 15-30 years, especially with proper maintenance.