There’s nothing worse than your furnace going out during the biggest cold spell of the year. Fortunately, you have a variety of options to choose from when it comes to furnace replacements, the most common of which are oil, gas, and electric. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, so take a look at this comparison provided by the clean, screened, trained and timely technicians at CJS Heating and Air to determine which furnace may be right for you.
Oil furnacesOil furnaces offer reliable heat from clean-burning fuel. The oil is first pumped into the furnace from a storage tank where it is turned into a mist, sprayed out through the blast tube, and ignited with a spark. The fine droplets mix with the air and produce an efficient and powerful flame, which heats a heat exchanger. The combusted gases then exit the oil burner through a chimney. Pros
- Average lifespan: 30 years.
- You own the fuel supply.
- You choose when to buy oil.
- More efficient than electric furnaces.
- No equipment or monthly charges.
- An on-site storage tank is necessary to store fuel.
- Maintenance requirements of the oil tank and fuel system are more demanding than gas.
- Requires more maintenance than a gas or electric furnace.
- Having oil around the property brings with it a hint of oil smell especially during refill periods.
- It’s more expensive to maintain than a gas or electric furnace
- Fewer technicians understand Oil than those technicians who understand gas or electric.
Gas furnacesThe burner in a gas furnace responds to the controls of the thermostat by switching on automatically. The natural gas is delivered to the home via underground pipes and is regulated by a gas meter. When the burner is on, the furnace blower brings in cool air from a particular portion of the house and pushes it through the heat exchanger. Air warmed by the burner is then pushed in the direction of the living area via air ducts. When the desired temperature is reached, the burner switches off. Pros
- Gas is less expensive than fuel oil and electricity.
- More efficient and effective at heating than electric furnaces.
- Gas burns cleanly.
- Low furnace maintenance requirements.
- Easy to install.
- Requires only a single gas line and a vent pipe to the roof.
- Average lifespan: 15 years.
- Higher upfront cost to install than an electric furnace.
- Can be noisier than an electric furnace, especially if not well maintained.
- Complicated to install and maintain compared to an electric furnace.
- Installation is dependent on available gas infrastructure.
- Poses the biggest safety threat with the possibility of carbon monoxide escaping or combustion issues causing a risk of explosion.
Electric furnacesWhen the thermostat sends an electric signal to relays inside the furnace, those relays apply voltage to the heating elements, which are similar in appearance to heating elements in toasters and hot plates. These tightly wound coils of resistive wire build up heat as the electricity encounters resistance. Then, forced-air blowers automatically disperse the hot air through the furnace cabinet and into the living areas. Pros
- Average lifespan: 20 to 30 years.
- Lowest upfront cost.
- Convenient, quiet, and easy to install.
- Small and manageable in size.
- Automatic breakers keep the furnace from overloading.
- Simple and inexpensive maintenance.
- Electric furnaces tend to have higher running costs.
- Least environmentally-friendly option.
- Less energy- efficient than oil and gas.