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Natural Gas Compared to Electric – Heating Your Portland Home

The best heating solution for your Portland home can depend on a number of different factors. You may be asking yourself what the costs will be. Which is better for the environment? Which is more efficient? When you’re not an HVAC expert, it can be quite confusing. Luckily, at Entek, we can help make the comparisons easier. Read on below to learn more about natural gas compared to electric and which is the best for your home.

How Does a Natural Gas Heater Work Compared to an Electric Heater?

Both natural gas furnaces and electric furnaces are forced-air systems. This essentially means that, with either type, the heated air is forced through vents—usually by a fan or blower—to circulate throughout your home. But the particular way they work to heat your Portland home is different.

With natural gas, when the temperature falls below your thermostat, a signal is sent. This triggers the pilot light to ignite a burner. The burner is what heats the air that will circulate through your home.

With electric heating, the same signal is sent regarding the temperature. But instead of gas being used to light a burner, wire heating elements are warmed by electricity.

So, you now know how each works to heat your home. But the question still remains: is one better than the other?

Feet with warm socks sitting on window sill over heat vent with winter scene outside.

Which Is Better for the Environment?

You may initially assume that electric heating is the obvious answer. And in ideal circumstances, it would be. However, in the current state of energy sources, electricity is generated using coal. Coal is, unfortunately, the most polluting fossil fuel. Then there’s natural gas, which is currently considered to be one of the least polluting fossil fuels available. So, compared to electric, natural gas may actually be the more environmentally friendly option at this time.

Note that, in the future, electric heating will likely be the most environmentally conscious choice. And currently, a heat pump, which runs on electricity, is already an energy-efficient option. An HVAC professional can help you determine if this is a viable option for your home heating needs.

Which Is the Better Choice Financially?

Natural gas is less expensive to operate compared to other heating methods, including electricity. This is because the cost of natural gas is typically lower than the cost of other fuel sources. And while the price of natural gas has gone down over the years, by comparison, the cost of electricity has only gone up.

Keep in mind that the installation costs of natural gas furnaces can be pretty steep. You should have a professional install either option because HVAC installation is a precise process that requires appropriate training to complete safely and correctly. Your furnaces efficiency is dependent upon it.

Natural gas furnaces have different elements that make installation particularly more complicated. And in many cases, technicians have to install outside vents or chimneys in Portland homes. That can increase installation costs. Electric heaters usually cost less up front, and maintenance is typically more affordable and less complicated. Many choose them for their Portland homes for this reason. However, they are expensive to operate and can cost more in the long run.

Which Is More Reliable?

When it’s the worst of winter, you don’t want the heating in your Portland home to go out. So natural gas compared to electric, which one can you count on more?

Natural gas can be relied on even in power outages. That said, it’s only reliable if you live near a natural gas source. If you don’t have access to that nearby, an electric furnace might be the better option for your home.

Which Is More Efficient?

Natural gas tends to make your home warmer than an electric heater can. Because of this, natural gas heaters will be able to heat up your home more quickly compared to electric heaters. Both the extra warmth and ability to generate heat faster make this an especially popular choice for cooler climates. Or for areas that are prone to extreme winter weather conditions.

Natural gas also takes less energy to heat your home than electric heaters. Natural gas burning cleaner than coal isn’t just good for the environment: it’s also part of the reason natural gas is the more efficient option compared to electric.

If you are purchasing a new natural gas heater for your Portland home, it should be about 98 percent efficient.

Which Lasts Longer?

While natural gas furnaces have a lot of benefits, they also have some downsides. And this is one of them. For all of the natural gas furnace upsides, they do not last as long as you may like. Typically, they will last up to 20 years at the most.

On the other hand, electric furnaces can last longer. For some people, this makes the higher month-to-month operating costs worth it. After all, operating a furnace costs less than replacing it entirely.

What Are They Like Day to Day?

Electric furnaces need less upkeep. You don’t need to check on them as much as you might with a natural gas furnace.

Electric furnaces are also much quieter while they are running too. If you’re someone who can’t handle a lot of noise, a natural gas furnace might disturb your peace and quiet.

Which Heating Option Is Safer?

Here’s another category that electric furnaces win.

Natural gas furnaces produce a low level of carbon dioxide. While this is fine if kept under control, it can also be dangerous. Carbon dioxide poisoning can cause sickness and even be fatal. You must have carbon dioxide detectors in your home, no matter which heating system you choose. But if you’d rather limit the risk of carbon dioxide, electric heating is the way to go.

Each Home Is Different

Deciding whether you should heat with natural gas or electric comes down to the details of your home and your particular needs. Consulting with a professional HVAC company can ensure you acquire the best system for your home.

And no matter which option you choose, you’ll want to make sure your heating works efficiently throughout its life span. The best way to ensure that is by getting an annual inspection from our technicians here at Entek. You can find more information about Entek on our website. With over 75 years of servicing the Portland area, you can trust that we know what we’re talking about when it comes to home heating and natural gas compared to electric.


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