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Comparing Gas and Electric Furnaces

Serving Families Throughout Pensacola
Electric vs. Gas Furnace

If you’re in the market for a new furnace, it can be overwhelming to decide between a gas or electric model. Both types have their own advantages and considerations to keep in mind. Gas furnaces are known for their high heating efficiency and lower operating costs, while electric furnaces offer a cleaner and potentially safer alternative. In this article, we will compare gas and electric furnaces to help you make an informed decision when it comes to heating your home.


Gas furnace efficiency

Gas furnaces are known for their high efficiency in heating homes. They utilize natural gas as their fuel source, which results in a more efficient combustion process compared to electric furnaces. Gas furnaces can achieve efficiency ratings ranging from 80% to 98%, meaning that they convert a large portion of the energy in the fuel into heat for your home. This high efficiency translates to lower energy costs and a more comfortable living environment.

Electric furnace efficiency

Electric furnaces, on the other hand, are typically less efficient than gas furnaces. They rely on electricity as their energy source, which undergoes resistance heating to generate heat. The conversion of electrical energy into heat is not as efficient as the combustion process of gas furnaces, resulting in lower overall efficiency. Electric furnaces usually have efficiency ratings ranging from 95% to 100%, with some models even exceeding 100%. However, it’s important to note that this efficiency rating does not take into account the source of the electricity used, which may have its own environmental impact.


Gas furnace installation

Installing a gas furnace requires professional expertise due to the need for gas line connections and proper venting. A licensed HVAC technician will assess your home’s gas line capacity and make the necessary adjustments to accommodate the gas furnace. Venting is also crucial to ensure the safe removal of combustion byproducts. Gas furnace installations involve connecting the unit to the gas line, installing the venting system, and integrating it with your home’s ductwork. It is important to have the installation done by a trained professional to ensure safety and optimal performance.

Electric furnace installation

Electric furnace installation is generally simpler compared to gas furnace installation. Since no gas lines or venting systems are required, the process is more straightforward. An electric furnace can be easily integrated into your home’s existing electrical system, eliminating the need for additional modifications. However, it is still recommended to have a professional electrician handle the installation to ensure proper wiring connections and adherence to electrical codes.

Operating Cost

Gas furnace operating cost

Gas furnaces have a more favorable operating cost compared to electric furnaces in most regions. Natural gas tends to be more affordable than electricity, resulting in lower heating expenses. Additionally, the high efficiency of gas furnaces allows them to generate heat more effectively, further reducing operating costs. However, it’s worth considering that gas prices can fluctuate, and the cost-effectiveness of a gas furnace relies on the price of natural gas in your area.

Electric furnace operating cost

Electric furnaces generally have higher operating costs compared to gas furnaces. Electricity is typically priced higher than natural gas, and the lower efficiency of electric furnaces amplifies this cost difference. The resistance heating process used by electric furnaces requires more energy consumption, leading to increased electricity bills. It’s essential to factor in the cost of electricity in your area when considering the long-term operating costs of an electric furnace.

Environmental Impact

Gas furnace environmental impact

Gas furnaces have an environmental impact primarily due to the combustion of natural gas. While natural gas is a cleaner fossil fuel compared to coal or oil, it still produces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions when burned. CO2 is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Additionally, gas furnaces emit small amounts of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and trace amounts of other pollutants. It’s crucial to consider the overall environmental impact of the natural gas supply chain, including extraction and transportation.

Electric furnace's environmental impact

Electric furnaces have a lower direct environmental impact since they do not produce emissions at the point of use. However, their environmental impact depends on the source of the electricity used. If the electricity is generated from renewable sources such as solar or wind power, the environmental impact is minimal. However, if the electricity comes from fossil fuel power plants, it contributes to carbon emissions and other pollutants. It’s important to consider the larger picture of electricity generation in your area and its impact on the environment when evaluating the environmental aspects of an electric furnace.

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Gas furnace maintenance

Maintaining a gas furnace involves regular inspections and cleanings to ensure safe and efficient operation. Some maintenance tasks include checking and cleaning the burners, inspecting the heat exchanger for cracks or corrosion, cleaning or replacing the air filter, and lubricating moving parts. It’s recommended to have a professional HVAC technician perform annual maintenance to identify any potential issues and optimize the performance of the gas furnace.

Electric furnace maintenance

Electric furnaces typically require less maintenance compared to gas furnaces. Since there are no combustion components, there is no need for burner inspections or cleaning. However, regular maintenance tasks for electric furnaces include cleaning or replacing the air filter, inspecting electrical connections and wiring, and ensuring proper airflow through the system. Professional maintenance is still recommended to ensure safety and optimal performance.


Gas furnace lifespan

Gas furnaces have an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years with proper maintenance. The durability and longevity of a gas furnace are influenced by factors such as the quality of the unit, maintenance practices, and usage patterns. Regular maintenance, including filter changes and inspections, can help extend the lifespan of a gas furnace. It’s important to keep in mind that as a gas furnace ages, it may become less efficient and require more frequent repairs.

Electric furnace lifespan

Electric furnaces generally have a slightly longer lifespan compared to gas furnaces, averaging around 20 to 30 years. The absence of combustion components in electric furnaces reduces wear and tear on certain parts, contributing to their increased durability. Routine maintenance, such as filter replacements and electrical inspections, can help prolong the lifespan of an electric furnace. However, it’s important to consider that as with any heating system, the lifespan can be influenced by factors such as usage, maintenance, and the overall quality of the unit.

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Heating Performance

Gas furnace heating performance

Gas furnaces are known for their excellent heating performance. They can quickly heat up a home, providing warm and cozy conditions, even in colder climates. The combustion process of natural gas allows for high heat output, ensuring efficient and effective heating. Gas furnaces also typically generate hotter air compared to electric furnaces, resulting in faster heating times and consistent warmth throughout your home.

Electric furnace heating performance

Electric furnaces provide reliable heating performance, although they may take longer to heat up your home compared to gas furnaces. Resistance heating generates heat by passing an electric current through heating elements, which can require more time to reach the desired temperature. However, once the electric furnace reaches the set temperature, it can provide consistent warmth throughout your home. Electric furnaces are better suited for milder climates or smaller spaces that require less heating power.


Gas furnace safety

Gas furnaces should only be installed and maintained by licensed professionals to ensure safety. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a potential safety concern with gas furnaces. A properly functioning gas furnace should have safeguards, such as sensors and venting systems, in place to detect and safely vent any CO produced during combustion. Regular inspections and maintenance help identify and address any potential safety risks, such as gas leaks or faulty components.

Electric furnace safety

Electric furnaces are generally considered safer than gas furnaces since they do not produce carbon monoxide or involve combustion. However, electrical systems can pose their own safety risks. It is essential to ensure that the electric furnace is installed and maintained by a qualified electrician to minimize the risk of electrical hazards. Routine inspections should be performed to check for any wiring issues, overheating, or other potential safety concerns.


Gas furnace availability

Gas furnaces are widely available and commonly used for residential heating. The availability of natural gas as a fuel source is a determining factor in the prevalence of gas furnaces in certain regions. Areas with an established natural gas infrastructure generally have easy accessibility to gas furnaces and related services. However, in areas where natural gas is not available or less common, the availability and cost-effectiveness of gas furnaces may be limited.

Electric furnace availability

Electric furnaces are also widely available and can be installed in almost any location with access to electricity. Since electricity is readily available in most areas, electric furnaces are a viable heating option for many homeowners. The accessibility of electric furnaces is further enhanced by their simpler installation requirements compared to gas furnaces. This makes electric furnaces a more widely available choice across different regions.

Personal Preference

Factors influencing personal preference

When choosing between a gas furnace and an electric furnace, several factors can influence personal preference. Some key considerations include:


Evaluate the initial installation cost, operating costs, and potential fuel price fluctuations.

Heating needs:

Consider the climate in your area and the heating requirements of your home. Gas furnaces are generally more suitable for colder climates or larger homes that require higher heating capacities.

Environmental impact:

Assess the environmental implications of using natural gas or electricity as the fuel source. Consider the availability of renewable energy sources in your area.


Consider your comfort level with gas appliances and your familiarity with potential risks associated with gas systems, such as carbon monoxide.

Choosing between gas and electric furnace

Ultimately, the choice between a gas furnace and an electric furnace will depend on your specific needs, preferences, and circumstances. Consider the factors mentioned earlier, research local energy prices, and consult with HVAC professionals to determine the best heating solution for your home. A professional assessment of your heating requirements, existing infrastructure, and long-term cost projections can help guide your decision-making process.

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