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Comparing Gas and Electric Furnaces

ThermostatIn the winter months, there’s nothing like the welcoming warmth of a properly functioning home heating system. Life in the colder times of the year can be quite uncomfortable without a heat source, and central heating provides the most direct, most efficient, and safest source of heat for your home when properly installed and maintained by a licensed heating company. Fortunately, homeowners have options when it comes to home heating, as furnaces can be powered by either gas or electricity.

But how do you know whether a gas furnace or electric furnace is right for your home? Both types of furnaces have pros and cons and sifting through their specifications can be a chore for those who aren’t mechanically inclined. However, by examining the relative strengths and weaknesses of each type of furnace, you can learn more about which furnace will best keep your energy bills in check while providing you with all the warm air you need to keep your home cozy. Contact one of the heating services in Alpharetta to find out more about the benefits of gas and electric furnaces. In the meantime, keep reading to learn how gas and electric furnaces compare.

How They Work

Before beginning a discussion about the pros and cons of gas and electric heaters, one must first consider how each type of unit works. Both furnaces depend on a forced air system to move the heated air throughout your home. However, a gas furnace is triggered by the thermostat to light a pilot and gas burner. That burner heats the heat exchanger, which in turn interfaces with ambient air and warms it. Because of carbon monoxide risks, the burner and air never come into direct contact. With an electric furnace, the thermostat triggers a heating element which directly warms the cool air that’s drawn into the system via the return or intake vent. With both types of furnaces, once the air is heated, it’s forced by a blower through the ducts to all corners of the home.


Regarding installation, electric furnaces have an advantage over gas furnaces because, when it comes to infrastructure, they require only a suitable power source and a space large enough to accommodate the unit. The electric supply must be high voltage, which is why installation is best left to a professional. Gas furnaces require far more extensive installation, as they must not only have a gas supply line, but they also need a venting system to usher dangerous carbon monoxide produced by burning gas out of the structure. Critical elements of the furnace, such as the combustion chamber and heat exchanger, must also be sealed off to prevent the leakage of deadly gases.

Energy Efficiency

In terms of raw energy efficiency, the electric furnace has an advantage once again. In fact, a quality electric furnace can have an annual fuel-utilization-efficiency rating of nearly 100%, which is significantly higher than the average AFUE rating of most gas furnaces, which range from 55% to 97%. Gas furnaces lose more heat because of the requirement for a flue and vent, while electric furnaces have no need for those heat-loss channels.


Gas billWhen it comes to analyzing cost, there’s the cost of initial equipment purchase and installation as well as the cost of maintaining and operating the furnace. Electric furnaces are cheaper to purchase and install. However, over the long term, gas furnaces are cheaper to operate because of the associated fuel costs. Even if gas prices fluctuate, the difference in the cost to operate a gas furnace is markedly lower than an electric furnace. An electric furnace is easier to maintain, mostly because a gas furnace needs regular maintenance and attention from a professional technician.

Life Span

When it comes to length of service, the electric furnace has a longer average service life than the gas furnace. While it’s not uncommon for a gas furnace to provide 20 years of quality, trouble-free service, electric furnaces can last for up to 30 years before needing replacement.

If you’re deciding which type of furnace you should buy for your home, consider the pros and cons of each before settling on a unit. To learn more about how gas and electric furnaces compare, contact Cool Air Mechanical at (770) 266-5247.

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