Gas vs. Electric Furnaces

Energy saving graphic

Which Is Better: A Gas or Electric Furnace?

When your Cincinnati home’s heating system is due for replacement, you’ll need to decide what kind of unit to invest in.

Outside of switching to an energy-efficient heat pump (which now comes with federal rebates and tax credits; see more below), you might be curious about the difference between gas and electric furnaces.

So, is a gas or electric furnace better for your house? That choice depends on numerous factors. Which is of most concern to you: upfront purchase and installation costs or the monthly cost of running the unit? Is propane or natural gas already available at your home?

Let’s dig into these and many other factors to make sure you make the best decision for your home.

Gas Furnace Pros and Cons

There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of furnaces. Consider them carefully when choosing the right model for your home’s needs.

Gas Furnace Pros:

  • They can heat your home faster and to a warmer temperature.

  • On average, they use a more affordable fuel than electricity (though natural gas prices fluctuate with the market, and operating a propane or fuel oil furnace is more expensive than using an electric furnace).

  • With proper maintenance, they can last 20+ years.

  • Buying a high-efficiency gas furnace comes with a $600 tax credit for qualifying homeowners.


Gas Furnace Cons:

  • Upfront purchase and installation costs are higher.

  • They require more regular maintenance than electric models.

  • Because they burn fossil fuel, they pose a carbon monoxide poisoning risk.

  • A spike in gas prices, volatile in recent years, can cause major changes in their cost of operation.

  • Gas furnaces are noisier than electric models.

  • They release more greenhouse gas emissions.


Electric Furnace Pros and Cons

Electric furnace technology has come a long way over the past few decades. For quiet heating with lower upfront costs and a relatively steady cost of operation, electric units are tough to beat. Here’s what you need to know about an electric furnace vs. a gas model.

Electric Furnace Pros:

  • Purchase and installation costs are more affordable.

  • They are much quieter than gas models.

  • Electricity is a more price-stable fuel source than gas.

  • Since they do not burn fossil fuels, they pose no carbon monoxide poisoning risk.

  • If you also have solar panels installed, your home heating bill could be virtually nothing.

  • Much lower greenhouse gas emissions, as renewable and emissions-free nuclear energy makes up 41.6% of Duke Energy’s energy portfolio.

  • High-efficiency electric furnaces can considerably lower heating bills.


Electric Furnace Cons:

  • They take longer to reach the desired temperature than gas models.

  • The heat they produce isn’t as intense as gas heat, so they tend to run longer during each heating cycle to maintain your desired temperature.

  • In the Cincinnati area, electric heating costs are still slightly higher than heating with natural gas (but less expensive than heating with propane or heating oil).


Is a Gas or Electric Furnace More Efficient?

It depends on how you look at it. All an electric furnace’s energy converts into heat (100% efficient), making them more thermally efficient than gas models, which waste 5-15% of their energy. However, electric furnaces need to cycle more frequently than gas models to maintain the same temperature.

But Wait—There’s a Third Option to Consider: A Heat Pump

Electric heat pumps heat and cool homes, and they do it efficiently. When it’s time to replace both your furnace and central air conditioner—or if you don’t have central AC—a heat pump system could be a perfect choice to replace your furnace. If you don’t have ducts, mini-splits are a type of heat pump that can heat and cool your home with air handlers strategically placed in each room.

If reduced monthly heating and cooling bills aren’t enough to convince you, the federal government currently offers generous incentives for qualifying homeowners who have heat pumps installed at their homes.

Find Your Local Heater Installation Experts

When it’s time to upgrade your Cincinnati-area home’s heating system, turn to One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning of Cincinnati. We’ll help you select the right heating system to meet your needs and perform an expert installation. Book online or call (513) 815-3460 today for a consultation with your local heating experts.