When it comes to the gas furnace vs electric furnace debate, there are supporters on both sides. But is there a clear cut better choice? To answer that I would say that the majority of people, and experts, would say that gas furnaces are the better choice.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best choice for you though.
To help you decide for yourself, let’s go over some of the pros and cons of both gas and electric furnaces. We will start with availability.
Determining what fuel sources are available in your area is the first step in analyzing which setup is best for you.
In the US, natural gas is not an available source of heat for every city. Thankfully, here in the Jackson, TN area it is! But, on the other hand, electricity is available in every city. If natural gas is not available in your area, then obviously a natural gas supplied furnace would be a “con” for you. You could always go with propane gas though if you really wanted to go the gas route. Although, understand that it probably isn’t going to be as cost-effective as natural gas.
In comparison, electricity is always available. There are no hindrances to running an electric furnace anywhere is the US.
Gas Furnaces – Con
Electric Furnaces – Pro
When it comes to cost, there are two areas we want to focus in on. The initial cost of the furnace, including furnace installation costs, and how much it costs to operate the furnace. Of course, there are other factors that need to be considered when purchasing a new furnace. These would include the brand, size, and the efficiency of the furnace. Be sure to consider these factors so that you carry out a fair comparison.
Typically, electric furnaces are a little cheaper initially upon purchase and for installation. Gas furnaces tend to cost more upfront and installation can cost quite a bit more, especially if you don’t already have the proper gas lines run to your home or business. The difference in price, including installation, can sometimes be up to 75%-100% more for a gas furnace system.
Cost of Operation/Efficiency
While electric furnaces are typically cheaper upfront, they usually cost more to operate. So, it’s possible that over time the cost of operation can cancel out the cheaper initial cost of purchase.
According to an article by Homeguides, it’s estimated that the average cost per BTU ratio in the US for an electric furnace is around $34 per million BTUs of heat. In comparison, the average cost per BTU for a standard gas furnace is around $14 per million BTUs. According to these numbers, the cost of operating an electric furnace can be over 100% more expensive than compared to its gas counterpart. This difference in operating costs would likely be even larger if considered with a high-efficiency gas furnace.
Fun Fact: The average American home requires 50,000,000 to 150,000.000 BTUs of heat each Winter.
Gas Furnaces – Pro and Con
Electric Furnaces – Pro and Con
When it comes to the ability and effectiveness of actually heating your home or business, nothing beats a gas furnace.
Some people have described the experience of feeling a quick wave of heat that begins to fill the room. It can actually be a little intense at times. This is usually evidence of a gas furnace. Electric furnaces just do not put out the amount of heat that a gas furnace does. This is why in the colder areas of the US, gas furnaces are the preferred choice by far.
Electric furnaces have to generate the heat to be used which adds to the amount of energy used and the amount of time it takes to deliver that heat into the home. This heat is typically generated through the heating element(s). On the other hand, as soon as a gas furnace fires up it can begin to disperse heat into your home or business. This also reduces the amount of energy spent on producing the heat when compared to electric furnaces.
Gas Furnaces – Pro
Electric Furnaces – Con
Your location and where you live is a big factor to consider when deciding between an electric or gas heating system. The colder an area gets, the less effective an electric furnace will be. But, if you live in an area that rarely drops below freezing, then an electric furnace will likely be all that you need.
On the other hand, gas furnaces can provide the perfect amount of heat in both mild climates and climates that are regularly below freezing in the Winter months.
This ties back to the previous section concerning each system’s heating effectiveness. Because gas furnaces are more effective and proficient heaters, they are able to better combat extreme cold temperatures. In most cases, electric furnaces have a hard time keeping up with extreme temps and can run almost constantly trying to. This can lead to a big spike in your electric bill.
Variety of Geographic Locations:
Gas Furnaces – Pro
Electric Furnaces – Con
If You Are Going Electric
If you are considering going electric for your heating source, consider a heat pump. Heat pumps are becoming more and more popular. Heat pumps provide both air conditioning in the warmer months and heat in the cooler months, all from one unit.
Again, we don’t recommend these systems for climates that are regularly below freezing in the Winter months, but for warmer coastal climates, they are sufficient. There is also the option to go with a “Dual Fuel” system. These heat pump systems use electricity for its source most of the time. But, when extreme temperatures call for it, this system will activate the gas fueled option and kick over to the gas furnace part of the system to supply more effective heat.
Which One is the Winner?
When it comes to deciding between a gas or electric furnace, there are different factors to consider. According to the information we’ve provided, we believe that a gas furnace is the clear winner, as long as the supporting circumstances are in place. But, in some situations the electric furnace is the better option and is plenty sufficient.
Which option would be best for you? What has been your experience with both gas and electric furnaces?
Feel free to comment below. We’d love to hear your opinion!