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Gas Furnace vs. Electric Furnace Comparisons

couple choosing a furnace

Gas furnaces and electric furnaces are popular ways to heat homes. Both are generally part of a force-air heating system in which the thermostat monitors indoor temperature and turns the unit on and off. There are also similar considerations, such as installing the correct sized furnace and determining what is most cost effective.

How a Gas Furnace Works

When a gas furnace receives a signal, the pilot light ignites the main burner. The heat exchanger then draws in heat provided by the burner, which heats air that’s circulated throughout your HVAC system. Gas furnaces are connected to utility gas lines and use popular fuels such as natural gas or, in some cases, propane or fuel oil that require a storage tank.

How an Electric Furnace Works

In an electric furnace, the thermostat signal is sent to an electric ignition, which turns on the unit’s electric heating elements. It does not require a fuel source but constantly draws electricity. An alternative to an electric furnace is an electric heat pump, which does not require as much electricity to operate.

Comparing the Top 2

Both furnaces are similar in that a blower fan forces hot air through ductwork into different rooms. An intake vent returns cooler air to the furnace. The furnace shuts off when the desired temperature has been reached, while the fan dissipates heated air and also turns off when this is complete.

Gas and electric furnaces differ in the following ways:

Cost

For a 2,000 square foot home, a gas furnace can cost anywhere from $4,500 to $6,000 to install. A comparable electric unit runs about $2,000 to $4,000. Gas units are more costly to purchase and to install when you consider gas connections and possible modifications to your home to accommodate a new model.

The long-term operating cost for a gas furnace is lower, as the price of electricity is close to 2.5 higher than the average price of gas in the U.S. However, the cost benefits vary depending on gas prices where you live, although gas is usually more cost-effective. Another factor is the size of your house, as larger homes can magnify the operating cost of an electric furnace.

Efficiency

Electric units, rather than transfer heat like a gas furnace, create original heat. They’re generally efficient although electric heating is inefficient when you consider the techniques used to produce electricity. Burning coal also results in the release of greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Natural gas releases these to some extent, but at a much lower rate.

Lifespan

A gas appliance rarely lasts more than 10 to 20 years. Gas burners produce particles that build up inside the furnace. Regular cleaning and maintenance are important, but soot, contamination, and corrosion eventually take a toll. These issues don’t exist in electric furnaces, so they can last as long as 30 years.

Maintenance

With an electric furnace, you don’t have to clean or inspect a burner. There’s very little maintenance compared to a gas furnace, which should be inspected and cleaned on an annual basis. Condensation can cause corrosion while a build up of carbon monoxide can be deadly. This is why carbon monoxide detectors ventilation are so important.

Noise

Electric furnaces have a simpler design with fewer moving parts, so therefore produce less noise. A gas furnace can be noisy upon start up. Owners quickly become familiar with the loud rushing sound. But any unusual sounds should be checked out right away as they can indicate something dangerous.

Contact Quality Heating, Cooling & Plumbing

We are experienced at providing high-quality furnace and heater installation, maintenance, and repair in Glenpool, OK, and throughout the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas. Contact us at 918-205-7258 for information or request an estimate online.

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