Even with electric units gaining popularity across the county, the majority of homes are still heated and cooled by a gas HVAC unit. Many homeowners have already made the switch, while others are currently considering it. The fact is, however, that while electric units are an excellent choice, there are still a few advantages to gas-powered heating and cooling. It isn’t without its drawbacks, either. We’ll attempt to list a few pros and cons in this article.
What Is a Gas HVAC Unit?
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. There are a number of ways you can heat and cool your home. The primary options are gas and electric. An electric HVAC unit usually consists of an air distribution system, an indoor coil, and heat strips to heat your home. It’s, as the name suggests, powered by electricity. A gas HVAC unit, on the other hand, uses natural gas to create heat that is then circulated throughout your home.
The Pros and Cons
Some of these pros and cons will depend on whether you have an HVAC system of either type already installed. They may also depend on where you’re located and the climate in your area.
Pro: Gas Heating Is More Powerful
Electric HVAC units can sometimes struggle to meet the demands that are placed on them. As they use electricity to generate heat or cool your home, there can be an upper limit to what they can accomplish, especially during very cold winters or very hot summers. Gas HVAC units rarely face this problem, as burning natural gas can quickly and easily generate a comfortable level of heat, no matter how cold it is outside.
Con: Gas Heating Can Be More Expensive
One of the major downsides of a gas heating system is the cost involved. The reality is that it can be extremely expensive to pump in natural gas consistently during a cold winter. If you’re having a heating system installed where there wasn’t one before, then it can be particularly pricey to have natural gas pumps put in. An electric HVAC system, on the other hand, simply makes use of the existing power grid.
Pro: Gas Heating Can Also Be Significantly Less Expensive
While it can be pricey if you don’t have the infrastructure for a gas HVAC unit in place already, in homes where natural gas is already accessible, you may save a good deal on heating. Natural gas can be a cheaper commodity than electricity is, and you’ll need to use less of it to create an equal level of heat, due to the improved power of a gas heating system.
Con: Gas Has More Safety Concerns
With any HVAC system, safety should be a primary consideration, and you should always make sure that your system is well maintained. This applies regardless of whether you use electricity or gas to heat and cool your home. However, a gas HVAC unit has a few safety concerns that are unique to it. The primary worry is carbon monoxide. If you develop a leak, then this harmful by-product can seep into your home. You can largely mitigate this concern by having carbon monoxide detectors installed and by having regular inspections and maintenance performed by a trusted technician from a company such as Entek.
Pro: Gas Is Not Vulnerable To Blackouts
Especially during particularly cold winters, the electric grid can go down, leaving your home without power. If your home is heated electrically, this means your heater can fail, and you can be left without heat just when you need it most. If your heater is powered by gas, you’ll at least stay comfortable and warm, even though you lack access to electrical power.
Con: You May Not Need Gas If You Live in a Milder Climate
While a gas-powered furnace can be an absolute must if you live in an area like Chicago, where temperatures well below freezing are expected every year, you may not need one if you live in a more moderate climate such as the Pacific Northwest. While the winters can certainly be cold in places like Oregon and Washington, they may not ever become too cold for an electric heating unit to handle. There will also be plenty of days throughout the year where you don’t need air conditioning or heating at all. If you live in a temperate climate, a gas furnace may just be excessive.
Pro: Gas Heating Is More Energy Efficient
One big benefit of gas heating is its efficiency. It can take a great deal of electrical power to get your home to a certain temperature. Comparatively, it can take far less gas to accomplish the same result. So you’ll be able to keep your home at a comfortable temperature without leaning on your natural resource too much.
Pro/Con: A Gas HVAC Unit Can Be Both More Green and Less Green
This one can either be a pro or a con, depending on the circumstances. While electricity is thought of as the primary “green” power source—that is, the one with the smallest environmental footprint—this can largely depend on the climate and time of year. While it can be true throughout most of the year that electricity is a more environmentally sound choice, during the hot summers and cold winters, electricity use can skyrocket. As more and more homes start cranking up their AC or heaters, the demand for electricity can create more waste, surges, and blackouts. The reality is that gas burns pretty cleanly. You may find that a natural gas–powered HVAC system is actually the greener choice.
Should I Switch To Gas?
Whether or not you should make the switch depends on a number of variables. If, after reading this article, you are still unsure, you should contact your local HVAC specialist from Entek. If you’re looking to install a new system, or to replace the one you have, we can do this work for you as well. If you already have a reliable HVAC unit installed—whether it’s gas-powered or electric—our highly trained technicians can maintain it for you and keep it in good, safe working order.