More than one-third of American households are heated by electric furnaces. They aren’t as popular as natural gas furnaces, which heat almost half of American homes, although their widespread popularity does indicate that electric furnaces offer many benefits.

If you’ve recently considered replacing your seasonal heating system, then you may wonder what you stand to gain by choosing an electric furnace. How will a furnace that functions on the same principle as an electric hair dryer help you keep you more comfortable and spend less on energy bills? Here’s a brief overview!


Higher Energy Efficiency

We wouldn’t go so far as to call a natural gas furnace inefficient. Even so, a typical natural gas furnace converts around 80 to 95% of its fuel into heat. That pales in comparison to an electric furnace, which achieves 100% annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE).

An electric furnace owes its superior AFUE to its inability to lose heat through flue gasses. Just take care that AFUE is a measurement of thermal efficiency – not overall efficiency. Theoretically, an electric furnace may consume more energy than a gas model.

Even with those considerations, an electric furnace is generally less expensive to install and maintain than a gas one (thanks in no small part to its fewer mechanical components). While you may not necessarily spend less on energy, you can reasonably expect to invest less money into your furnace when you make the switch to electric.


Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions

While it is relatively clean burning, natural gas is predominantly methane: a greenhouse gas. Methane combustion also produces carbon dioxide (CO2), which is yet another greenhouse gas. That’s why natural gas use accounts for over one-third of the United States’ CO2 emissions!

Electric furnaces do not produce greenhouse gasses, and they do not require the combustion of fossil fuels to function. If your local energy provider burns fossil fuels to generate electricity, you’re still inadvertently producing greenhouse gasses whenever you heat your home. But if it utilizes solar, wind or hydroelectric to generate electricity, then you can take satisfaction that you’re doing your part to conserve the environment.


Safer Operation

An electric furnace does not utilize fire to produce heat. Although there is a chance it could short circuit and start an electrical fire, an electric furnace still significantly reduces the risk of a house fire.

Because they do not rely on combustion, electric furnaces are also incapable of producing carbon monoxide (CO). The colorless, odorless and extremely toxic gas kills over 400 Americans annually. You and your family have virtually zero chance of winding up among them once your home is heated by an electric furnace.


Longer Lifespan

There is no guarantee that an electric furnace will outlive a natural gas model. A furnace’s lifespan is determined by several factors, including its make and model, how well it was installed, how frequently it is maintained, where it is located, and the temperature the homeowner sets their thermostat to.

That said, an electric furnace’s average lifespan is usually 20 to 30 years. Natural gas furnaces typically last 15 to 30 years before they require replacement, which is why going electric might just reduce the number of furnaces you have to buy during your own lifetime.


Greater Versatility

Some homes aren’t connected to natural gas lines. In these situations, the case in favor of an electric furnace is clear cut: there is simply no better alternative. An electric furnace may save you a big headache if the government artificially raises the price of natural gas in the future. And if you ever decide to go off the grid, an electric furnace will seamlessly integrate with whichever generator or photovoltaic panels you decide to install at your homestead.

At O’Connor Heating & Cooling, we make winter preparation easy by offering high-quality furnaces to suit all of our clients’ budgets, including a variety of top-of-the-line models by Rheem. If you live or own commercial property in Sioux City, IA or the surrounding tri-state area, then we welcome you to contact us today to learn more about how we can be of service!