When it comes time to replace your furnace, it can be challenging to decide whether you should purchase a gas or electric version. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Before you make a decision, here are some key points to examine:
One of the first factors people consider is the cost of buying a new furnace. In most cases, new gas furnaces are notably more expensive than electric ones. However, even though the upfront costs of a gas furnace are higher, that doesn’t mean you will spend more over the life of the furnace than you will with an electric version.
Installation and Operating Efficiency
Neither gas nor electric furnaces are overly difficult to install. Electric versions simply need to be properly connected to the system. Gas furnaces do require venting to the outside, though this step may already be complete if your property previously had a gas furnace.
When it comes to operating efficiency, the gas version is by far the winner. A gas furnace can operate at 95 percent efficiency, while electric options are nowhere near that efficient. With the current price of fuel for gas furnaces, it looks like they will be more cost-effective in terms of operating costs for the foreseeable future. If you are looking to keep your day-to-day operating costs down, gas should be your go-to option.
Lifespan and Maintenance
When it comes to lifespan, electric furnaces are the winner. In some cases, a gas furnace will need to be replaced every 15 years. In contrast, an electric furnace may last for 20 or even 30 years. While there are no guarantees how long yours will last (outside of a formal warranty offering), one way to ensure you get the longest life possible is by performing regular maintenance.
Gas furnaces should be examined by a professional on an annual basis to ensure there are not carbon monoxide emissions escaping through a crack. Electric furnaces should be maintained in order to ensure higher levels of efficiency. Regular maintenance on both types of furnaces will help keep the operating of any attached fans quiet.
Need for Heat
In some cases, you simply don’t need heat that often. This can apply to homes you only occupy in the summer or to those who live in particularly temperate climates. Additionally, the nature of the furnace and the cost to run it may be less critical when other heat sources are used more regularly. For example, if you prefer to curl up in front of a roaring fire in the winter or snuggle up to an electric blanket, you may not have to run your furnace as often. In these cases, you may choose to go with a less expensive product or one with fewer maintenance requirements.
Operating an electric furnace poses no additional risk beyond that of other electric appliances. Gas furnaces have a slight amount of risk based on the use of gas for fuel: a gas furnace can release gas or hazardous carbon monoxide into a space. However, with proper maintenance the risk is quite low. Additionally, the installation of a carbon monoxide detector near the furnace can help alert you to any trouble before any harm is done.
Making a Decision
The only way to determine which option is right for you and your home is to examine each of the above criteria carefully. If your house is currently setup for a gas furnace and you anticipate high levels of use, then you may want to go with a gas version for the improved operating efficiency. However, if you live in a more temperate area or are looking for a solution for a holiday home, then choosing an electric version may be more cost effective in the long run. Ultimately, you will need to estimate your average usage and determine which way makes the most functional and financial sense.