Which is Better: Natural Gas Furnace or Electric Furnace?

Get some useful information about the pros and cons of gas and electric furnaces.

Which is Better: Natural Gas Furnace or Electric Furnace?Were you happy with the performance of your heating equipment this past winter? Or did excessive noise, poor heat quality, and high energy bills leave you wishing for a new furnace for next season? If your furnace is over 15 years old or subject to frequent breakdowns, you are definitely justified in your desire. A new gas or electric furnace can bring many benefits over your old one, including:

  • Lower energy bills
  • More reliable heating comfort
  • Quieter operation
  • Fewer repair needs
  • Peace of mind of warranty coverage

So how do you decide whether you should get a new natural gas furnace of a new electric furnace? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Natural Gas Furnaces

Pros: The biggest advantage of natural gas is fuel efficiency. Up to 90 percent of the usable energy in natural gas is successfully converted to heat in a natural gas furnace. This means you get an excellent value for your money. Natural gas is also very clean-burning, which is good for the environment.

Cons: Natural gas furnaces have a relatively high initial cost, especially if you have never had a natural gas furnace before. This is because new fuel pipes and vents would need to be installed. Natural gas furnaces also have pilot lights, which can cause maintenance issues and present a small safety concern. Finally, natural gas furnaces are simply more complicated mechanically, which means more possibilities for parts to fail and need replacement.

Electric Furnaces

Pros: Electric furnaces are simple, relatively inexpensive, and safe. They don’t have many moving parts so they are easy to maintain and do not require frequent repairs. Electric furnaces do not have pilot lights and are protected from electrical overload or fire by automatic breakers. And because they do not require venting or fuel lines, installation is straightforward.

Cons: The main downside of an electric furnace is the high cost of electricity. Electricity is not an efficient heating fuel, and even with the most high-efficiency electric furnace available, you are still going to spend more than you would with a natural gas furnace. One other concern is that electricity in general is not very eco-friendly. Up to 70 percent of the energy used to generated electricity is wasted in transmission and distribution of your home. Natural gas only loses 10 percent from the wellhead to your home.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, the decision of what type of new furnace to get will depend on your budget and your needs. However, there is hardly ever a compelling reason to switch from natural gas to electric, so if you already have a gas furnace you will probably want to stick with this fuel type.