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Is Gas or Electric Heat Better?

You noticed the signs of trouble—uneven temperatures, breakdowns, heating costs on an upward curve, old age—it’s time for a new heating system. As you shop around, you’ll have to make important decisions about what you want in a heating system, such as the type of energy you’d like to use: gas heat or electric heat. By understanding the differences between your options, you’ll make a confident, educated purchasing decision that aligns with your budget and needs.


Which is Better for Portland Homes: Gas or Electric Heat?

Is Gas or Electric Heat Cheaper?

In general, electric furnaces have lower upfront costs than their gas counterparts. However, gas furnaces are usually less expensive to operate because the cost of gas tends to be less expensive than the cost of electricity.

It’s important to keep in mind that your home will need a natural gas connection if you purchase a gas-powered heating system. If your home doesn’t use natural gas, you’ll need to hire a contractor to install a gas line and obtain permits, which adds to the initial investment.

Gas furnaces are more expensive to install than electric heating system because venting requirements make the process is more complicated. Gas furnaces also have more annual maintenance requirements because they use combustible fuel.

Is Gas or Electric Heat More Efficient?

Furnaces use an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) score to indicate their energy efficiency. The score tells you how much gas or electricity the heating consumes to produce heat. Modern high-efficiency furnaces can have AFUE scores of 96 percent or higher (the system uses 96 percent of the energy consumed to create heat; only 4 percent of the energy is wasted). Keep in mind that AFUE scores don’t calculate heating losses from ductwork, pipes and chimneys. When ducts are in the attic, heating losses can reach up to 35 percent.

When investigating a heating system’s efficiency, bear in mind that electric furnaces do not instantly heat a home. Instead, they must power up a heating element before distributing warm air, so it takes longer for a room to feel warm. Because electric furnaces don’t use flues through which heat can escape, they waste less energy than gas furnaces. However, gas furnaces heat a home faster because they produce the maximum heat desired as soon as the burners run. As a result, the system wastes less energy to generate heat.

Which is Better for the Environment?

A heating system’s environmental friendliness depends on the resources it uses to create energy. At first glance, it might seem as if a gas furnace’s efficiency makes it better for the environment. However, if a home is powered with hydro, wind or solar energy—clean, renewable forms of energy—an electric system might have a smaller carbon footprint.

When considering the environment, don’t forget about your home environment. A well-maintained gas furnace is safe for use inside a home. Neglecting to hire a licensed professional to inspect and maintain the gas appliance every year may result in gas leaks, which lower the quality of indoor air and may cause harmful carbon dioxide poisoning.

AFUE Ratings

The U.S. Department of Energy states any high-efficiency furnace with an AFUE score of 85 percent or higher is more environmentally friendly than older models. Upgrading a gas furnace with an AFUE of 56 percent to one with an AFUE of 90 percent in an average home saves up to 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually and up to 38 percent on heating bills.

The Bottom Line

Electric heat makes the most economic sense if you live in an area with mild winters or if gas heat is not available. Gas heat is ideal for homes in colder climates that rely on the heating system several months of the year and are already equipped with natural gas utilities.

AAA Heating and Cooling Cares about Your Comfort

When you choose AAA Heating and Cooling for your home comfort needs, you can trust that you’ll receive the best equipment that lower your energy costs and bring peace of mind. Safety is the top priority for our specialists, who make it their business to ensure the only thing you have to worry about when heating your home is finding the perfect temperature on the thermostat.

As a full-service contractor, our personnel include installers, metal shop workers, foremen, and office staff who tend to the details of your heating and cooling needs. When you’re ready to shop for a new furnace, an expert service advisor trained in the design and application of home comfort systems will learn about to your home heating needs and energy-saving goals to match you with state-of-the-art solutions.

If you’re still not sure if gas heat or electric heat is better for your home, contact AAA Heating and Cooling to receive personalized expert advice. Serving thousands in the Portland metro area since 1961, AAA is committed to making your home feel comfortable with value-added solutions. Contact us today and see first-hand why we’re the area’s HVAC leader.