Natural gas is the most commonly used heating fuel in U.S. But, It is not available in many areas. The people who don’t have an option for gas furnace or those who need an alternative home heating fuel can use home heating power systems. Many times, electric heating systems cost more than a traditional furnace to operating. Even though power heating systems have high efficiency, we can not say that it is best for using in home. We have to consider all the factors of both heating systems. When we compare the gas furnace with electricity heater, we must consider the facts such as operating costs and upfront along with its impacts on environment.
Heating System Costs
The price of gas furnaces vary from $2,500 to $3,500 for most manufacturers like Trane, Carrier and Goodman. This was submitted by hundreds of consumers for 15 most used brands . Furnacecompare.com estimated the price of a new electric surface, and it is around $1100-$1700. Where as, electric heating system can be bought at very low prices from various home improvement stores and even on ebay and amazon, an electric heating up front cost is lower than gas furnace. But, the operating costs of gas furnace are much lesser than electric heating systems. So now it seems to be pretty hard to decide which system is better? Don’t worry, let’s break the heating solution into 4 main deciding factors. NO rocket-science and let’s calculate together.
Deciding Factors For Heating Costs
There are four factors that determine the operating costs of any heating systems. These are namely.
- fuel type
- price per unit fuel
- heat/unit fuel
- heating system efficiency
The first two factors are pretty easy to understand and let’s mainly talk about the last two:
Heat/Unit Fuel means how much heat can be released by per unit fuel. HVAC usually describe heat in Thermal Units(BTU) which you can also see in cooling system like air conditioner. The common consumed heat in USA is 50M-150M BTU in winter for USA. You can estimate the heat used according where you live, northern area usually cost more than south.
While, the efficiency is calculated from fuel efficiency per year. For Gas Furnace, the common efficiency rate (called AFUE) is 80-90 by percentage. The Average AFUF for Electric furnaces is 95. All of the electric space heaters received 100 percent ratings from AFUE.
Calculating Heating Costs
An average person spends 12 cent/kw hour of electricity for US. The EIA reported that each kW hour of electricity is equal to 420BTU, The house owners may need to pay roughly $35/mBTUs of heat. The natural gas is usually sold in therms, and the price of the therm is 100k BTUs. As of November 2015, the cost of one therm is $1.1. Let assume that the 80 percent is furnace efficiency, the consumers would expect to pay around $14/mBTUs of heat.
The average price of a gas furnace and an electric heater vary over time, region and some other factors. But, the cost of gas furnace is always much lower than power heater to operate it. So, overall The natural gas furnace is the best fuel in terms of operating costs. Of course, if you live in the southern parts of US and can enjoy a mild winter with much less consume in BTU, electricity is also a good choice.