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Is a Gas or Electric Furnace Best for Your Home?

Is a Gas or Electric Furnace Best for Your Home?

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:

Furnace Cost

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Safety

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.

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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.

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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