Enter your zip to
find local pros.
HVAC Resources

Gas-Powered Vs. Electric Furnaces

As homeowners become increasingly conscientious about making their houses more eco- friendly, electric furnaces are starting to gain popularity over gas-powered furnaces. Additionally, some governments are making moves towards phasing out natural gas sources for homes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions – which is leading to a trend away from gas furnaces. Homeowners are now wondering more than ever which type of heating system is best to install in their home –  a gas vs. electric furnace.

However, electric furnaces may not be for everyone. Finding the right furnace can be the difference between having a warm, cozy home during the chilly winter months and being uncomfortable in the cold. Understanding the differences between a gas vs. electric furnace will not only help you keep your home warm in the winter, it can also make an impact on your utility bills and home repairs. Continue reading to find out about the similarities and differences between gas-powered vs. electric furnaces in order to make the best choice for your home and family.

Table of Contents

Why are People Moving Toward Electric Furnaces?

In some states, governments are urging an end to the use of gas furnaces because of how much they contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions in their states. Additionally, there are concerns that gas-powered furnaces reduce the quality of indoor air, which can have health ramifications. These factors have contributed to a move toward electric furnaces. Homeowners are keeping energy and air quality concerns in mind when deciding on how to heat their homes.

In addition to energy-efficiency and air quality concerns, homeowners in warmer parts of the country are realizing that electric furnaces are better at heating their homes than gas furnaces. Homes in the South, Southwest, and West can benefit from electric furnaces since they tend to experience milder winters and can simply switch on or off the electric heating system based on their needs on a given day.

furnace in home

Gas vs. Electric Heating Costs

Despite these advantages of electric furnaces, cost is a major consideration for many homeowners. There is a reason why gas furnaces are still the predominant source of heat in U.S. homes.

In terms of initial purchase costs, electric furnaces are cheaper than gas furnaces. On average in 2022, an electric furnaces costs around $3,000 to install while a gas furnace costs $4,300 or more to install, depending on the brand.

However, ongoing heating costs paint a different picture. When comparing gas vs. electric furnace heating bills, it will cost less to heat a home with a gas furnace. For example, according to NPR, in 2021 it costed homeowners an average of $746 to heat their home with natural gas for one winter season, versus $1,268 to heat homes with electricity during the same season.

Heating System Cost Calculator

Take Me There

Pros and Cons of Gas-Powered Furnaces

Although gas-powered furnaces can save you money on electric bills, the savings may be outweighed by the cost of installation and maintenance. This section breaks down the pros and cons of choosing a gas furnace.

Pros of Gas Furnaces

More affordable over time
The initial investment in a gas furnace may be more than an electric one, since they generally run between $3,000 and $4,000 for the furnace and $1,500 to $2,000 for insulation. However, when it comes to the cost of heating your home moving forward, gas-powered furnaces are actually affordable. Natural gas prices have decreased over the years, making operating a gas furnace less expensive to run than electric furnaces.
Heats the home more quickly
When you turn on the heat, you don’t want to have to wait a long time for it to circulate, especially during the winter months. With a gas furnace, you will not have this problem. Gas furnaces are able to generate heat much faster than electric, so your home will get warm in a flash. As a result, your wait for warmth is much shorter than it would be with an electric furnace. This is the reason that gas-powered furnaces are still so popular in cold climates, such as the Northeast and Midwest.
Runs efficiently
Natural gas burns clean, making gas furnaces efficient to run. They take less energy to heat up your entire home. The gas can also be used to run your water heater, clothes dryer, and oven.

When evaluating just how efficient a gas furnace is, you should consider its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. This refers to the amount of heat a furnace generates compared to the amount of fuel it consumes.

According to federal regulations, a furnace’s AFUE rating should be a minimum of 80 percent, which means it produces 80 percent of heat for the fuel it uses. The remaining 20 percent may be lost through leakage and inefficiencies related to a specific product. Generally, older gas furnaces have an AFUE of 85 percent and new ones have a 90 percent rating.

Cons of Gas Furnaces

Complicated installation
While natural gas can be beneficial, it also makes the installation of your furnace much more complicated. Gas-powered furnaces need natural gas lines to operate. If you don’t already have gas lines in your home, they will need to be installed, which will add to the installation costs.

Also, this is not a job for even an experienced do-it-yourselfer. Hiring a professional is an absolute must when you buy this type of furnace. In fact, because of the intricacies of installation, even a professional will spent several days working on this project to ensure it’s done right.

Safety issues
One of the reasons that installation of a gas-powered furnace is so important to pay close attention to is because of the risk that a system may leak carbon monoxide. This is a deadly gas that can spread through your home if your furnace is not properly installed. A professional HVAC installer is trained to take precautions against this risk, which is another reason using a professional is crucial.
Regular maintenance required
With safety being a main concern, gas-powered furnaces should be properly maintained and checked to be sure that carbon monoxide isn’t leaking from the unit. Since this is an odorless and colorless gas, you should also have your home checked regularly to ensure levels are not dangerous.

Pros and Cons of Electric Furnaces

The lower upfront costs you spend on an electric furnace may make it an attractive option, however, if you live in a colder region, the monthly utility bills may actually bust your budget. The following are some pros and cons of electric furnaces for you to consider.

Pros of Electric Furnaces

Easy installation
Since natural gas is not involved in the operation of an electric furnace, these products are much quicker and easier to install than their gas-powered counterparts.

However, just because the installation is somewhat less complicated does not mean it is advisable for a DIY-er to attempt this project. Electric furnaces are operated by high-voltage wires connected to the home’s electrical system. You need someone skilled and knowledgeable to install these products.

More safe
Carbon monoxide is not a concern with an electric furnace, so these products tend to be much safer as household systems. However, that does not mean they never require maintenance or that safety concerns are completely off the table. You still need to keep an eye on this type of furnace and get it inspected regularly to ensure it doesn’t become a fire hazard.
Long lasting
Even with less maintenance, electric furnaces tend to last longer than gas-powered ones. If you keep the unit in tip-top condition at all times, you can expect it to last up to three decades—a solid 10 years longer than you can expect from a gas-powered furnace.

Cons of Electric Furnaces

Higher electric bills
Although your upfront costs for an electric furnace will be less than a gas furnace due to lower installation costs, these types of furnaces usually result in higher monthly utility bills.
Slower to heat the home
It takes much longer for electric furnaces to generate heat at high levels. As a result, you have to operate them longer to heat up your entire home, especially in colder climates. This can contribute to the higher energy costs.
Less efficient to operate
If you live in a colder area, an electric furnace may not be as efficient as a gas one because they have to work harder to produce heat. This makes these products less effective and can cause them to use much more energy.

When choosing a home heating system, comparing gas vs electric furnaces is a great place to start. However, keep in mind that heat pumps are also an option. We recommend also comparing heat pumps vs. furnaces as you do your research. Also be sure to look into what size furnace your particular home will require prior to installation.

Finding a Local HVAC Contractor

Looking for the right furnace to meet your needs is not a decision you should take lightly. In addition to these pros and cons, it’s also important to factor in your climate when making a decision. Generally, gas furnaces are used by homeowners in the Northeast, Midwest and Southwest, while electric are favored among those in the Southeast and West.

No matter what kind of furnace you choose, Modernize is here to help you find experienced professionals in your area that you can trust. The pros at Modernize can connect you with local contractors who will help you choose the best type of furnace for your home and complete the installation. In order to help you evaluate contractors to make the most informed decision, we offer a checklist that you can consult as you look at information about different professionals.

Find today's best prices for your
home improvement project.