Forced air furnaces are the most commonly used heating system in the United States. However, not all furnaces are created equal. Furnaces are run off of either natural gas or electricity, but which one is really best for your home? Let’s look at a brief comparison of both electric and gas furnaces and you can choose for yourself.
- Efficiency- Newly manufactured gas furnaces will have efficiency ratings between 80% and 95% AFUE. This rating is based on the amount of fuel that is actually used to create heat compared to the amount that is wasted. For gas furnaces, the combustion process wastes fuel that is then vented to the outdoors. Electric furnaces do not have to be vented so they come in ratings between 95% and 100% AFUE.
- Lifespan- With proper maintenance, a gas furnace can last 15 to 20 years. An electric furnace will normally last 25 to 30 years.
- Installation and Operation Costs- Electric furnaces tend to cost more for installation, and they defiantly cost more to operate. Electricity is more costly than gas in most areas of the country, and gas furnaces are typically cheaper to install.
- Safety- Electric furnaces have the same hazards that come with any electric appliance, but gas heaters pose a greater threat, though still minimal, due to the combustion gases that are created. If there is a problem with the venting system or the furnaces heat exchanger, the combustion gases, like carbon monoxide, can get into the breathing air of the home. However, with proper care both types of furnaces pose minimal danger.
- Maintenance- Gas furnaces require yearly maintenance check-ups in order to remain safe to operate and to put out high efficiencies. Electric furnaces need less maintenance and lack of care only leads to a deficiency in efficiency.
- Noise- The noise associated with furnaces is usually the sound of the air blowing through the duct work, but in general electric units are quieter because they don’t create noisy combustion.
Overall, both units work better for different situations. There is no way to dictate which is best unless you are looking at your situation, your climate, and your home. Keep these comparisons in mind when shopping for a new furnace, and you are sure to choose the one that works best for your heating needs.