Wintertime means lower temperatures, and every home needs a heating system. Furnaces are among the most common home heating systems in US households. Decades ago, most furnaces were only powered by gas or oil, but now technology has allowed for more options.
Now, homeowners have to determine a heating method and an energy source – furnace vs boiler, electric furnace vs gas. Either option can keep an indoor space comfortable during the freezing months, but it’s important to pick the system that best fits your home’s specific heating needs.
Not sure which type to choose? Fortunately, we’ve created this electric furnace vs gas-powered furnace comparison guide to help you decide. We’ve outlined the pros and cons, including operating costs, maintenance, and more, to help you make an informed decision.
If you want to know the difference between gas and electric furnaces so you can choose the best system for your home, read on!
Electric furnace vs gas furnace: What is an electric furnace?
Regardless of the type of furnace you choose to install, they all serve the same purpose: to heat your space when the temperatures drop outdoors. Furnaces can use various energy sources, including electricity, gas and oil.
Electric furnaces, as the name suggests, are powered by electricity and are one of the most common types of furnaces you can buy. When you connect an electric furnace to a power source and turn it on, the unit begins heating and pushing warm air through your home.
Heating elements are built within the internal structure of the furnace. These components heat up when the unit is running and warm your home. The fan, another component, draws in the cool air that passes by the heating elements. Once the cool air is warm enough, the unit sends it back into your home and this process continues as long as the electric furnace is running.
If gas is scarce but electricity is readily available in your area, purchasing an electric furnace will make the most sense. It’s worth noting, however, that depending on the cost of electricity in your region, it can be more expensive to heat a space.
Pros and cons of an electric furnace
Factoring in the pros and cons of an electric furnace vs a gas one can help you can decide on the best heating system.
Here are some of the pros:
1. Improved efficiency
Heat loss is a huge issue during winter. If your home system experiences significant heat loss, it can negatively impact the efficiency of your unit. Thankfully, electric furnaces minimize heat loss, making them highly efficient and suitable to install at home.
Due to its design, an electric furnace doesn’t require additional components which can contribute to heat loss. Also, there’s no need for an outlet or a gas detector since electric furnaces don’t generate any gasses that need ventilation.
2. Better for the environment
When comparing an electric furnace vs a gas-powered system, note that electric systems use newer and cleaner technology to operate. Since electric furnaces don’t involve the burning of fossil fuels, they are better for the environment and safer for your home.
The burning of fossil fuels also runs the risk of producing harmful gasses like carbon monoxide and increases the risk of fire.
3. Readily available
Apart from affordability, when comparing electric vs gas furnace availability, electric systems are easier to find in stock. This simple heating system can keep a home warm all winter. Whether you’re looking online or in-store, these systems with newer technology are often easier to come by.
4. Long lifespan
Electric furnaces have a long lifespan and can serve you for nearly two decades when they are well maintained. All you need to do is schedule regular HVAC maintenance appointments for your furnace at least twice a year. This way, you can avoid any furnace leaks, breakdowns or malfunctions.
Some cons of electric furnaces:
1. The rising cost of electricity
Electric furnaces are affordable to purchase, and they use electricity to heat your home instead of fossil fuels. However, in recent years, there has been a rising cost of electricity across the country, leading to electric furnaces becoming more expensive to operate.
2. Dry heat
Electric furnaces tend to generate dry heat during winter. Dry heat is a health risk that can cause health issues like watery eyes, dry skin and increased susceptibility to allergies. So, if you own an electric furnace or are considering one, also consider purchasing a humidifier.
Electric furnace vs gas furnace: What is a gas furnace?
A natural gas furnace is another popular home heating method. Natural gas is a popular fuel source, with over 47% of Americans using it to heat their homes.
When you turn on a gas furnace, natural gas ignites and warms the air. The heated air is then delivered to the desired rooms through ductwork, keeping them cozy. The essential parts of a gas furnace include the blower, draft hood, heat exchanger, flue, and burners.
Pros and cons of a gas furnace
It’s always wise to check the pros and cons when comparing a gas furnace vs an electric furnace.
1. Powerful and fast-acting heating system
Gas furnaces heat your home quickly and effectively. This is because natural gas produces more heat to warm the air than electric coils. Gas furnaces are also known to have the capacity to warm the air faster than their electric counterparts.
This is especially helpful for those who live in larger houses and regions where temperatures hit extreme lows.
2. Lower operating costs
Electric furnaces need electricity to heat the heating elements that warm the air in your home. Depending on the cost of energy materials in your region, it may cost less to use natural gas as opposed to electricity.
1. Bulky ventilation
A gas furnace needs ductwork to deliver warm air throughout the house but also requires a ventilation system to remove hazardous gasses from your home. This ventilation can be bulky and may take up more room in smaller spaces.
2. Carbon monoxide emissions
Even the most efficient gas furnaces can emit carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless but toxic gas. This is why it’s important to have a functional CO detector in your home when using a gas furnace. A faulty unit that emits lots of carbon monoxide can pose a huge risk to your entire household.
When comparing electric furnaces and gas furnaces, both heating systems warm the air in your home so that you can be cozy in the wintertime. Each system has pros and cons worth noting. An electric furnace is a good option in areas where gas isn’t readily available, but a gas furnace costs less to run due to the rising costs of electricity.
For an accurate assessment of which system is suitable for your home needs, book an appointment with one of our professional HVAC technicians today.