Whether you’re in the midst of building a home or you find yourself in the inevitable place of needing a new furnace, choosing a heater can be a difficult decision.
When it comes to residential heaters, should you go with gas or electric? Key factors that go into this choice include the cost, efficiency, ease of installation, maintenance and the environmental impact.
Once you learn more about each of these components, you’ll be able to make a more confident and informed decision.
Efficiency and Cost
The upfront cost of a gas furnace is considerably higher than an electric furnace. However, electric heat is far less efficient than gas heat. By the time the energy is transmitted to an electric furnace from the generator, efficiency can be down to 30 percent.
By contrast, the efficiency of a gas furnace is between 80 to 95 percent. Also, if an electric and gas heater are run over the same amount of time, the electric heater will produce less heat. This is something to consider if you live in a part of the country where winters are long and severe.
Over time, the cost of running a gas furnace turns out to be much less than the cost of running an electric furnace. As of 2016, gas is the cheapest fuel to use to heat a home, and experts predict that this will be true for some time.
In contrast, electrical heat can cost as much as three to five times more than gas heat. A gas furnace also heats the house more quickly than an electrical unit because of the higher efficiency.
Installation and Maintenance
Gas furnaces are trickier to install than electric furnaces. Permanently installed heaters need a system of ducts to deliver heat to all the rooms in the house, and they need vents to let dangerous carbon monoxide gas safely escape to the outside. The flue and the chimney require regular checkups by an HVAC professional to make sure that there are no clogs or leaks. Another consideration is that gas furnaces last about half as long as electrical furnaces.
Electric furnaces do not need to be vented because no combustion occurs in them. They also don’t need the heat exchanger that comes with a gas furnace. Because of this, electrical furnaces require very little maintenance, and some common issues can be fixed by the homeowner, like resetting the thermostat or changing the filter. Electric furnaces also tend to be quieter and last longer than gas furnaces. The lifespan of an electric furnace ranges from 20 and 30 years.
The government has put tighter regulations on air pollutants and emissions in recent years, so HVAC manufacturers have had to rise to the new standards. Electric heat does not emit any pollutants into the air, so from an air quality standpoint, an electric furnace would be better.
Using more electricity, though, has an effect on the environment so electric heat doesn’t come without some consequence. Gas heat is getting cleaner and more efficient, so newer gas-fired furnaces have a smaller affect on overall air quality than older gas furnaces and oil furnaces.
Conclusion: What Type of Heater is Best for You
There are pros and cons to both electric and gas heaters, so choosing what’s best for your home is going to depend on how much money you’re willing to spend upfront and what the climate is like where you live. The environmental factors may also have some weight in your decision, but either choice will have a fairly minimal impact because of new standards and regulations.
Talk with an experienced HVAC specialist to determine what would work best for your home and your specific needs. At Richmond’s Air, we provide heating and air solutions that that keep Houston and Spring families comfortable all year-round.
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