Cost Comparisons Between Natural Gas and Electric Furnaces

Electric furnaces are cheaper to buy than gas furnaces, but they cost much more to operate. Let’s unpack these facts a bit.

The Cost of Gas Furnaces

Depending on the size of the furnace you need – a calculation based on the size and layout of your home as well as the climate in which you live – you’ll pay $900-$4,000 or more for a gas furnace.

Size is just one of the cost factors. The efficiency of the furnace, its quality and performance will also affect cost. Furnaces range in efficiency from a minimum of 80% AFUE to a maximum of more than 98% AFUE. The more efficient they are, the more they cost.

You’ve also got your choice of performance. Single-stage furnaces offer basic on/off heating, running at full capacity all the time. They are a bit noisy and produce temperature fluctuations. Two-stage furnaces run at low capacity to maintain the temperature level and at high capacity when they need to boost it. Modulating gas furnaces operate at a capacity between 35% and 100% to produce premium climate control. The better performance, the higher the gas furnace prices will be.

The Cost of Electric Furnaces

Electric furnaces range in cost from $450-$1,300 depending on the size you need. There are no differences in efficiency. They all run at about 99% efficiency. So you can see, the price for the equipment is significantly less.

In addition, electric furnaces don’t burn fuel, so there is no need for a flue pipe. The flue pipe for a gas furnace will cost a few hundred dollars to install in new construction, possibly more in an existing home.

The Operating Costs of Gas and Electric Furnaces

This is where a gas furnace has a wide advantage over an electric furnace. The cost of operating an 80% efficient gas furnace is a little more than half of what it costs to run an electric furnace. When you choose a high-efficiency furnace, your operating costs are less than half.

Electricity remains expensive to produce. Fossil fuels are used to make it in most cases, and the means of production are not nearly as efficient as today’s gas furnaces.

Choosing an Electric or Gas Furnace

If you need a new furnace now but you plan to move within 5 years, an electric furnace might be a consideration, especially when compared with the cost of high-efficiency, high-performance gas furnaces.

But keep this in mind: A savvy home buyer won’t be thrilled about a home with an electric furnace. Expect him or her to ask you about your electric bills!

Electric furnaces make the most sense for heating a section of a home or building when running gas line and flue vent is very difficult or impossible. They are also used occasionally in guest apartments, workshops, cottages and other locations where lower equipment costs are more important than operating costs.

These are the facts…they should help you make a cost-effective choice you’ll be happy with going forward.

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