The heating season is about to start in earnest, or already has in your area. Chances are that you had your furnace inspected and that you are ready for the cold part of the year.
However, have you ever wondered why we are still using gas, or even some liquid fuels to heat our homes? If we have mastered electricity-powered cooling, why can’t we do the same thing for heating? Well, according to heating experts at Howell’s Heating & Air, in some instances, electrical heating can even be better than gas furnaces. However, there are some caveats you need to consider when choosing your new furnace.
Thanks to ample reserves and a well-established network of providers, gas is fairly cheap. Here in the US, we use gas not only as the primary fuel for our furnaces in the winter, but also for cooking in our stoves and electricity generation in power plants.
That being said, not all parts of the country are equally covered by the network of gas pipelines, which means that if you live in an area that is not properly gasified, a gas-fired furnace is not going to be an option for you, at least not a simple one.
A furnace is an expensive piece of machinery. In most instances, people get some kind of financing option when buying a furnace over several years. At the same time, they are expected to operate anywhere between ten and thirty years, so it is an investment worth the cost.
On the other hand, an electric option, most commonly a heat pump can be significantly cheaper initially. The setup is less complicated and there is no gas pipeline to consider. All you need is an electrical grid. That being said, the efficiency of the heat pump cannot offset the cost difference between electricity and gas.
Over the life of a gas furnace and a heat pump, in most parts of the US, you will end up spending more money on the electrical option. Certain areas, like Arizona, prefer heat pumps. This is because the heating requirements there are not as stringent as in the northern parts of the country, and the heating season is much shorter.
The Downsides of Gas Furnaces
Another important thing to consider when choosing the next heating solution for your home is the way they operate. Most people will agree that the electrical option is safer than a gas fired furnace, for more reasons than one.
For one, anything that relies on generating a flame for heat is inherently less safe. Even though the regulations for furnaces are strict and there are numerous failsafe mechanisms in place, accidents still do happen. That is why it is vital to have your furnace inspected by a qualified technician before you start using it every season.
There is also a matter of carbon monoxide, a common byproduct of combustion. This gas is generated by gas furnaces, and can leak into the home. Carbon monoxide detectors are therefore a necessity if you use any kind of combustion to heat your home.
The Downsides of Electric Furnaces
On the other hand, electric furnaces are much less efficient than gas, with less than 50% efficiency rating at best. They also take a longer time to heat up your home, which can be unpleasant, especially if you do not have a smart thermostat to power your heating before you get home.
Electricity prices have been going up, which means that your heating cost may go up as well, and you will never know just how much your heating will cost until the heating season starts in earnest.
If you want to be a trailblazer and try your luck with the new and possibly better systems, perhaps the electrical heating solution is for you. However, if you want a reliable and well-known product that generations of Americans have used, give gas furnaces one more chance.