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Cost Comparison of Electric and Gas Furnaces

January 19, 2024

If you're looking into a furnace replacement for any home or building, there will be a few key factors to be thinking about during your selection process. One of the very first on this list is whether to go with a gas or electric furnace, and cost is naturally a central subject considered during any such debate.

At Thompson's Comfort Connection, we're happy to assist clients in Sandy, Draper and surrounding areas with all their furnace repair, furnace replacement and other heating and air services. Which key factors help differentiate gas and electric furnaces when it comes to cost, and which might be the ideal choice for you from a purely financial perspective? Here are some basics to keep in mind.

Up-Front Purchase Costs

While costs for specific models of gas and electric furnaces can vary heavily, and it's certainly possible to find either type at low or high prices, there are some general differences between the two. In most cases, gas furnaces will cost more up-front than electric ones - in fact, gas models can often be several hundred dollars more expensive just to purchase outright.

This is for a few main reasons. For starters, the manufacturing process for gas furnaces is more complex and requires more expensive materials than electric models. In addition, gas furnaces often have additional features like pilot lights or other safety mechanisms that add to the cost. There are also sometimes installation differences between the two, which can create further cost disparities.

Installation Costs                 

As we just alluded to, another important cost factor to consider here is installation costs. In most cases, gas furnaces will be more expensive to install than electric ones - while exact numbers vary based on specifics and the contractor you hire, it's fair to say that gas furnace installations can often run several hundred dollars more expensive than their electrical counterparts.

Again, this is primarily because gas furnaces have a more complex installation process. They require additional ventilation and connection to gas lines, both of which can add time, materials and labor costs to the job.

Operating Costs

On top of these factors, there are also operating costs to consider. Here's where things get interesting with the electric furnace: While they may be cheaper up-front, many homeowners don't realize that electric furnaces can end up costing them more over the long haul when it comes to monthly energy bills.

Electricity costs significantly more than natural gas in many areas, and while electric furnaces are generally cheaper to maintain, they also use far more energy than their gas counterparts. Over time, this can add up - in some cases even surpassing the amount saved on the furnace purchase itself.

Basic Maintenance

One area where both options are relatively similar: Basic maintenance costs. Both gas and electric furnaces will require basic upkeep on occasion, including filter changes and similar items. These costs are similar between the two, though gas furnaces may have slightly higher repair or replacement costs due to the more complex parts mentioned earlier in the article.

Now, maintenance costs can be mitigated with warranties. The issue here is that while both gas and electric furnaces can come with the same type of warranty, gas furnace warranties often include a clause that requires annual professional maintenance to stay valid. This means you'll have to pay for this basic upkeep regardless, as part of your initial investment.

Lifespan

Another key cost factor to keep in mind is the long-term expected lifespan of each furnace type. On average, electric furnaces tend to hold a slight edge here - they often last a few years longer than gas models, meaning you'll have to replace your furnace less frequently.

However, both models can be expected to last at least 15 years with proper maintenance, so this shouldn't be a major consideration unless you're planning on staying in your home for a significantly longer or shorter period.

So which furnace type is right for you from a cost perspective? As with most things in life, there's no one universal answer here - it will depend on your specific situation and priorities. However, if up-front costs are your primary concern, electric furnaces will generally be the cheaper option. For those more concerned with long-term operational costs, gas models may end up being the better choice.

The experienced professionals at Thompson's Comfort Connection can help you weigh all these factors and make an informed decision on the best furnace choice for you and your home or building. Contact us today to learn more about this or any of our heating and air services for clients in Sandy, Draper and nearby areas.

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