Is Gas Heat Better Than Electric?

For homeowners in Arkansas contemplating the best way to ensure their home remains a haven of comfort during the cooler months, it often comes down to a choice between a gas and electric heating system. 

The decision affects the warmth of your living space in winter. It also impacts your HVAC system’s efficiency and operational costs, so many property owners wonder which is best for their home. 

This guide will explore some key considerations, helping Arkansas residents make an informed decision about which heating system to install, ensuring maximum comfort throughout the winter season.

Key takeaways:

  • Gas-powered systems are typically more efficient for heating due to the combustion process. 
  • With fewer components, electric systems are simpler to install and maintain. 
  • Homeowners should consider the fuel prices in their region, as this will determine the most cost-effective option. 

How do both systems work? 

Here’s a quick overview of how each system works: 

Gas heating systems

A gas heating system operates by burning natural gas or propane in a burner. This combustion process heats water in a boiler or air in a furnace. This then gets circulated through pipes to radiators throughout the building, or the warm air is distributed via ducts with the help of a blower. Homeowners can regulate the temperature using a thermostat. 

Common gas heat options include gas furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps. 

Electric heating systems

Conversely, an electric heating system utilizes electric power to heat water or air, which is then distributed throughout the home to maintain comfort. 

Furnaces and boilers often have a heating element where the heated air is circulated through ducts with the aid of a blower (or water through pipework for boilers). Homeowners can control the system’s output via a thermostat, ensuring an ideal temperature. 

Examples of electric heat options include electric furnaces, heat pumps and boilers. 

Gas vs electric heating efficiency and capacity

Before choosing between gas and electric heating systems, you should know the heating efficiency of each fuel source. Gas furnaces typically offer superior heating capacity due to the combustion process, which produces more heat than an electric system. 

This means that for the same amount of energy, gas systems can often raise the temperature in your home faster and maintain warmth more effectively. 

Operational efficiency and utility costs

Another factor to compare is operational efficiency which differs from heating capacity. Heating efficiency/capacity refers to how effectively a system converts fuel to warmth, while operational efficiency considers how much heat is delivered against the energy and cost used.

When measuring efficiency, you may encounter the term AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) ratings. This number, expressed as a percentage, tells you how efficiently a furnace converts the input fuel into heat. 

Typically, newer gas furnaces have AFUE ratings ranging from 89% to 98%, which is fairly high. Electric heating systems, on the other hand, can reach almost 100% efficiency as they convert all electric energy into heat. 

However, don’t rush your decision just yet! Consider the fuel costs in your region. Even with a high efficiency system, if the price of electricity is significantly higher than gas in your location, gas heating could be more cost-effective. 

Take note of the real-life utility costs, to make an affordable choice for your Arkansas home.

Cost of installation 

Gas and electric heating systems have different installation complexities, impacting the overall cost. 

A gas heating system’s installation is generally more intricate due to the need for gas lines and ventilation for safety. This complexity can lead to higher initial installation costs compared to electric systems, which typically have less invasive setup procedures. Electric heating systems are a lot simpler to install due to fewer components. 

In both cases, we recommend hiring a qualified technician as this ensures your installation complies with local codes, optimizes the system for efficiency, and significantly reduces the risk of issues/electrical hazards.

Maintenance costs

Once you install your unit, it must be maintained throughout its lifespan. The two fuel sources also vary in their maintenance requirements. While efficient in generating heat, gas heating systems demand more frequent maintenance to avoid carbon monoxide or gas leaks and ventilation issues, which can be major health risks.  

Additionally, components such as burners and ventilation systems require regular cleaning to maintain efficiency and extend the system’s lifespan. This heightened level of service often contributes to higher maintenance costs over the life of a gas heating system.

Electric systems are simpler and require less maintenance. The lack of combustion in electric systems eliminates the need for vent maintenance and the risk of gas leaks, reducing the need for frequent inspections. 

While both systems benefit from regular service to ensure they operate efficiently, the inherent design of electric heating systems often means they require less maintenance, contributing to potentially lower overall repair and servicing costs throughout their lifespan.

Environmental impact

While electric heating systems are often celebrated for their potential to reduce an individual’s carbon footprint, the environmental impact actually depends on the source of electricity in your region. 

In areas where electricity is mostly generated from renewable sources, such as wind or solar, adopting electric heating can indeed lead to a substantial decrease in personal emissions and environmental harm. 

However, in regions where electricity production heavily relies on natural gas, coal, or other fossil fuels, you may still contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. The belief that electric systems are universally ‘cleaner’ ignores the pollution and carbon emissions associated with their energy source. 

If this is a concern for you, contact your local HVAC or utility professional for more information. 

Which fuel type should I choose for my home? 

When deciding which heating system is the best fit, remember to balance functionality, your needs, and the cost over time (fuel, maintenance).

Consider what type of system will suit your heating needs best. Do you have a ductwork? Would you prefer a system that can integrate with a cooling system? 

For tailored advice, ask a pro. The expertise can demystify the selection process, ensuring your decision is informed, cost-effective, and perfectly suited to your home. 

Let the professionals help you with your HVAC needs. 

All in all, the decision between gas and electric heating in northwest Arkansas hinges on a balance of efficiency, cost, and comfort. If you live in Springdale, Fayetteville, Elkins, or the surrounding regions, trust Anderson Air to guide you. With over 50 years of experience in providing tailor-made HVAC solutions, our business is dedicated to delivering quality care and trustworthiness. 

Anderson is the name, professional air care is the game. Trust the experts at Anderson Air to deliver affordable, reliable HVAC services for your home. 
Whether you’re looking for efficiency, eco-friendliness, or cost-effectiveness, we have the expertise to meet your needs. Contact our office today to experience the warmth of a family that has been keeping homes comfortable for generations.

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