Gas or Electric Furnace: Which Is Right For You?  

January 21, 2021

Gas or electric? These two types of furnaces are the two major options for residents today. Whether you’re building a home from scratch, planning to replace the furnace, or advocating for the environment, the common debate usually has gas furnaces coming out as the winner.

However, there’s more to the story than this. Gas furnaces do have their advantages, but they also have a number of caveats that all home dwellers need to keep in mind. We’ll look at the topic from all sides to help you develop a more well-rounded understanding of the question. Whether you’re asking yourself which is cheaper or whether you have the means to support one over the other, newACunit.com can tell you what you need to know.

Standard Advice

When you’re considering choosing one of the two, you have to take into account the following:

  • Efficiency
  • Cost
  • Durability
  • Longevity
  • Safety
  • Installation
  • Fuel Availability

These may seem obvious (and applicable to nearly any appliance) but it’s all too easy to forget about the long-term effects of the installation or the life expectancy of the unit when you’re so focused on protecting your budget.

Do You Have the Choice?

One of the most important factors is whether you’ll have the infrastructure for natural gas. This is the most popular kind of fuel but not all pipes can support it. In some cases, you might be able to install the pipes for it. (This is an expensive option to be sure, but an option nevertheless.)

In other cases, though, some homes just won’t have access to this specialized kind of piping. These homeowners will be limited to electric furnaces unless they have the fuel storage and budget for propane or oil furnaces.

Which Is Cheaper?

Like so many purchases in life, electric furnaces are cheaper in the short-term but more expensive to maintain in the long-term. This is because gas is less expensive than electricity, especially in the past few years when the utility has risen in cost. (The price of natural gas has actually decreased in the same time period.)

So while you might be tempted to choose electric if you’re cash-strapped right now, it’s better to make that initial investment if you want to stretch your savings in the years to come. Even with variances across the state for the costs of fuel, a gas furnace is usually going to cost significantly less overall.

Costs

The range for electric furnace cost and installation is between $2,000 – $4,000 while the range for gas is $4,500 – $6,000.  You may also have to purchase an additional indoor coil for gas furnaces, which can cost another few hundred dollars. Again though, your average costs are generally more due to the rates of electricity. So if you’re asking which is cheaper, it’s important to take into account the whole picture.

Noise

Electric furnaces are quieter than gas furnaces. There are no vents, no burners, and fewer components overall. This simple design makes can make for less distraction in the home. However, we would by no means call gas furnaces disruptive just because they grumble when they turn on or make themselves known when the burner ignites.

Lifespan

An electrical unit is typically functional for 20 – 30 years, while a gas unit will last for between 10 – 20 years. Gas units will undergo more stress over the years, given their particle production and build-up from many years of use. An electric furnace does not have to be cleaned that often, nor is an electric furnace as at-risk for corrosion.

Installation & Upkeep

An electrical unit is easier to install, ensuring less of a disruption to your everyday routines. Gas units are a bit of a project to fit them into your home and get them up and running.

Electrical furnaces also don’t require a lot of maintenance, given their straightforward configuration. Homeowners can usually troubleshoot their own issues without having to call in a technician. With a gas furnace, it’s far more difficult to get a handle on the intricacies of the unit. From the heat exchanger to the blowers, it’s usually better to seek the advice of a professional.

Risks

Because gas furnaces emit a small amount of carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless, and deadly gas, homeowners face more pressure to ensure that it hasn’t malfunctioned. This can usually be solved with the help of a carbon monoxide detector, but it’s still a significant risk that some homeowners would prefer not to take.

Results

For those who don’t want to wait for the home to heat up, gas units score big points in this category. They tend to be more effective for extreme temperatures, turning up the intensity right when inhabitants need it the most. An electrical furnace is more of a slow burn.

Relatively dry and hot climates are usually perfect for electric furnaces, largely because their heating requirements are already minimized by the natural climate.

What to Ask Yourself

For some, the answer will be relatively simple: many homeowners want the long-term savings and the efficiency of a gas furnace — even when you factor in the potential downsides. But for others, the decision-making process isn’t quite as easy.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Will you have the time and energy to devote to a gas furnace? For those who often ignore home maintenance or delay it for months at a time, the electric option might make more practical sense.
  • Are you aware of the environmental costs? According to the EPA, the majority of electricity relies on techniques that are judged to be just 30% efficient. Natural gas may produce emissions, but the fuel is cleaner than coal (which is a common fuel used to make electricity).
  • Are you using an air handler? If you have this piece of equipment with an air conditioner, you’re likely going to run up your bills even higher with an electric furnace. The continuous strain on the furnace might also cause the lifespan to deteriorate.
  • Do you have a heat pump and air conditioner? If you’re using this equipment in conjunction with a gas furnace, it can be a great way to provide year-round air treatments to keep you comfortable.

Ask for Help

“Gas or electric?” is a valid question for the homeowners that NewACunit.com services. Because we work in relatively mild climates, there’s no reason to preclude one or the other. If you have more questions about the best one that’s right for your home, schedule some time to check in with us and learn more about your options.

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