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The Pros and Cons of Gas and Electric Furnaces

January 12, 2024

If you're looking into a new furnace, whether as a replacement for your old model, as part of new home construction or for any other reason, one of your key decisions will be which fuel source to utilize. By far the two most well-known and popular such options are gas furnaces and electric furnaces - how do they compare?

At Thompson's Comfort Connection, we're here to assist clients around Sandy and Draper with all their heating, cooling and air quality needs, including high-quality furnace replacements. Here are some basics on how each of these furnace types works, plus some of the basic pros and cons of each option to consider as you're making your choice.

How Both Options Work

For those who are not familiar with furnaces, let's begin by explaining their basic function. Furnaces are heating appliances that keep your home comfortable on cold days by generating heat and distributing it throughout the property through a central duct system. The hot air is then pushed into various rooms through vents or registers on the floor or walls.

When the furnace's fuel source is gas, natural gas is burned in a combustion chamber to heat the air, which is then distributed through your home. On the other hand, electric furnaces use heated coils to produce warm air that is circulated throughout the property.

Pros of Electric Furnaces                 

There are several major benefits of electric furnaces to consider:

  • Durability and lifespan: With the proper care, electric furnaces can last up to 25 years on average, making them a long-term investment. This longevity is due to the fact that electric furnaces have fewer mechanical components than gas furnaces, meaning they require less maintenance.
  • Up-front cost: Electric furnaces are typically less expensive to purchase and install than gas furnaces, making them a popular choice for those on a budget.
  • Safer: Since there's no risk of carbon monoxide leaks, electric furnaces are considered safer than gas furnaces. However, they do still carry a risk of electrical fires.
  • Easy care: Electric furnaces are easier to maintain and repair since there is no combustion involved. This makes them a great option for those who prefer a low-maintenance heating system.

Cons of Electric Furnaces

At the same time, there are some possible downsides that might be notable for you when it comes to electric furnaces:

  • More expensive to operate: While it's true that electric models tend to be much more affordable to install, they are often more expensive to operate on a daily basis. This is because electricity is generally more expensive than natural gas.
  • "Dry" heat: Some people find that the air produced by electric furnaces is too dry, which can lead to discomfort and even health issues for some individuals.
  • Power outage concerns: If you live in an area that experiences frequent power outages, you may want to think twice before investing in an electric furnace. Without electricity, these furnaces will not function and leave you without heat on cold days.

Pros of Gas Furnaces

Here are some key benefits that gas furnaces offer:

  • Lower operating costs: While gas furnaces may have a higher initial cost compared to electric models, on average they are more cost-effective to operate on a daily basis due to the lower cost of natural gas.
  • Better for larger homes: Gas furnaces are typically better at heating larger spaces and maintaining consistent temperatures throughout the home.
  • Warmer heat: Unlike electric furnaces, which produce dry heat, gas furnaces tend to provide warmer air that feels more comfortable for many people.
  • Dependability: Gas furnaces are reliable and can provide consistent heat even on the coldest days, making them a popular choice for those living in colder climates.

Cons of Gas Furnaces

Here are some potential downsides to consider with gas furnaces:

  • Higher upfront costs: As mentioned, gas furnaces tend to have a higher initial cost compared to electric models, which may not be feasible for some homeowners on a tight budget.
  • Carbon monoxide risk: Gas furnaces run on combustion, meaning there's a slight risk of carbon monoxide leaks. However, with proper installation and maintenance, this risk can be greatly reduced.
  • Maintenance needs: Gas furnaces require more frequent maintenance due to the combustion process involved in heating, meaning there are more mechanical components that need to be checked and serviced on a regular basis.
  • Less durable: While gas furnaces can still last for up to 20 years on average, they may not have the same longevity as electric models due to the additional wear and tear on mechanical parts.

In summary, both gas and electric furnaces have their own unique pros and cons to consider. Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on your specific needs, budget, and preferences. Our team at Thompson's Comfort Connection can help guide you through this decision-making process and find the perfect furnace solution for your home. Don't hesitate to reach out to us today for any HVAC services around Sandy, Draper and nearby areas!

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