Gas vs Electric Heat: Which is More Efficient?

gas or electric furnace

When you’re looking for a furnace upgrade, there are two primary things to consider. The overall energy efficiency of the unit and the energy source it will use are major factors. 

Heating Efficiency

Technically, electric heating systems have higher energy efficiency ratings. This is because each unit of electricity they use can create one or more units of heat.

Gas heating systems can’t achieve the same efficiency ratings that electric systems do. Some of fuel they use is wasted in the water vapor that the combustion process creates.

At best, a gas furnace will use nearly 99 percent of the fuel for home heating, and at worst, just 80 percent. They lose efficiency because some of the fuel they use goes up the chimney as water vapor as part of combustion gases.

Energy Costs

An electric furnace upgrade may seem tempting because of it’s higher efficiency. However, electric heating systems can ultimately cost more to operate.

Natural gas costs less as a commodity than electricity. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the average cost of a therm of natural gas in South Dakota costs $0.084 and a kilowatt (kW) of electricity costs $0.109.

It takes three kW of electricity to supply the same energy found in a therm. This means that a gas furnace will produce heat for $0.084 and an electric furnace will cost approximately $0.32 for an equivalent amount of heat.

If these costs stay low, it makes more sense to opt for a gas furnace. Even air-source heat pumps, one of the most efficient electric heating systems available, won’t be able to provide reliable heat when the thermometer plunges.

To learn more about the best furnace upgrade for your home, contact Efficient Heating and Air Conditioning, providing HVAC services in Spearfish, SD and the Northern Black Hills.