The Heat is On: Choosing Between Gas Heat vs. Electric Heat

Trying to decide whether you want to go with gas or electric heaters?Choosing between gas heaters or electric heaters for your home can be a tough decision because each has its own set of benefits as well as drawbacks. Some could cause you to spend more than it might be worth to you, and others may impact the environment more than you’d like. So there are plenty of options to consider when looking to buy or repair a new furnace.




In this corner gas heater pros:

  • The U.S. Department of Energy says gas heaters provide an extremely high level of efficiency which, in many cases, can definitely help keep utility costs lower than when using an electric heater.
  • Gas heats the air up quicker and to a hotter temperature than electric heaters.
  • Because it’s so efficient and uses less energy, it also helps protect the earth from harmful greenhouse gases and global warming.
  • Most homes these days are built with a gas heater, over 70 percent of them, actually.
  • With technology getting more advanced, most gas heaters now have pilot-less ignition and zone heating which make gas heaters much safer and more customizable.
  • A gas heater will also last up to six years longer than an electric heater, and having to install a new unit is not cheap or easy.

While this all sounds great, gas heaters certainly have their disadvantages:

  • Many homes aren’t even rigged to accommodate gas heaters because they don’t have gas pipes running to them.
  • Gas in your area could also be too expensive.
  • Aside from availability, the largest concern is obviously the flammability of gas.
  • Because natural gas is toxic when inhaled in large quantities a leak could be fatal. This odorless gas is produced when natural gas is burned.
  • Thankfully for us, gas companies add a specific scent to the gas so we can know when there is a leak. You also have to consider the fact that carbon monoxide is poisonous.
  • You have to equip your home with complex ventilation systems to divert the toxic fumes outside of your house, and you’ll need to maintain and get these cleaned out every now and then.
  • To be safe, you should also install carbon monoxide detectors in your house that will alert you if there is a leak.

And in this corner–electric heaters:

So now that you know about the benefits and disadvantages of gas heaters, let’s talk about electric heaters.

  • Electric heaters are a great choice if you don’t have a gas line installed in your home or live in an area where natural gas isn’t available at an affordable cost.
  • Using  electric heaters can also be beneficial because you won’t have to install complex and expensive ventilation systems and the heater itself is usually easier to install.
  • Electric units are one of the easiest ways to add extra heat to your house and they aren’t as dangerous as gas heaters.
  • And with electric heaters, you won’t have to worry about the possibility of an explosion, fire, or carbon monoxide poisoning because no combustion takes place and no poisonous fumes are produced.
  • If you are more environmentally conscious, with an electric furnace, you won’t have to worry about burning fossil fuels or negatively affecting global warming through their release into the atmosphere.

One main disadvantages of using electric heaters, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, is that they are one of the most expensive and inefficient way to heat your home.

  • Because of the cost of electricity, it’s not unusual for electric heaters to cost over two times as much as gas heaters.
  • Electric heater manufacturers will tell you that their product is the most efficient way to heat your home but as with anything, don’t believe everything they say. You have to remember that the power plant burns gas or coal in very inefficient manner to produce the electricity to send to your electric heater, so it’s not as efficient as companies may say.

Remember that to encourage efficiency, federal and state governments offer tax credits on many home gas heaters. Because electric heaters are extremely inefficient, most don’t qualify for the tax break. If you have a choice and you don’t mind not getting the tax break, you might just go with electric heaters because of the advantages. Also no matter which kind of heater you buy, you will save more money if your house is well insulated and windows and doors do not leak.

About Chris Carpenter

Chris Carpenter has owned Affordable Heating and Air for 25 years. Chris is a fully factory-trained technician with a wealth of knowledge about heating and air conditioning. He enjoys educating homeowners about the pros and cons of each systems so they can make an informed decision when addressing their needs. Chris’s son and business partner, Paul, has been working with him for the last three years and their key to success is “being professional, honest and forthright in all our dealings and treating people as they would like to be treated.” You can reach Chris by calling 707-953-3345 at Affordable Heating and Air.

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