Heating / February 14, 2020
The Top Furnaces by Fuel Type
What type of furnace do you need? Home heating systems aren’t all the same. If you’re in the market for a new furnace, take a look at the different options and what you need to know before you buy.
The fuel source a furnace uses to heat your home sets it apart from other HVAC appliances. A gas furnace uses natural gas or propane for heating energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 49 percent of households use natural gas to heat their homes. An additional five percent use propane as a fuel source.
When it comes to efficiency, gas is a top option; a new, high-quality natural gas-burning furnace is extremely efficient. The high efficiency of this type of fuel makes it generally less expensive to heat your home. The efficiency and cost to heat are primary factors that contribute to the popularity of this type of furnace.
However, even though this type of heating appliance has high efficiency, some homeowners may still find the overall price tag of natural gas more costly than other fuel sources. The exact price you’ll pay for the gas itself depends on where you live and the utility company you choose. Like other natural resources, natural gas prices change over time. This means the high cost you pay now may dip lower in the future.
While natural gas is a popular pick, propane is another gas product that isn’t as common. Propane is often used in rural areas or areas that have limited or no access to natural gas pipelines.
Some areas of the country have limited access to natural gas sources. If natural gas isn’t an option in your area, oil likely is. Unlike natural gas, oil isn’t a top fuel source for most Americans. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, only six percent of American households use fuel oil. Most of these households are in the northeastern part of the country.
Oil-burning furnaces require a holding tank to store the fuel. Like with natural gas, the overall price of heating with oil depends on the market value of the fuel. Prices vary over time, making it tricky to determine whether oil is more or less expensive than another option.
As the name implies, this type of heater uses electricity as a fuel source. Gas-burning furnaces require a chimney or vent to release byproducts. Without proper venting, this type of heater could potentially release dangerous gases into your home. Unlike natural gas furnaces, electric heaters don’t require a chimney or flue. This means the heated air won’t go up and out of the chimney.
Without a chimney for venting, an all-electric furnace has less heat loss. This boosts its efficiency and can decrease its overall energy needs. Keep in mind, even though this type of furnace won’t allow flue-related heat less (and the related energy expenditures), it can still cost more to run. Electricity costs, like gas and oil, vary over time. But in general, the price of electricity as a heating fuel source is higher.
If the utility costs of an all-electric furnace are too high for your needs, you have another similar option. The ductless heat pump is an alternative to a central HVAC system. These zoned devices use electricity to both heat and cool individual rooms. Ductless heat pumps, as the name implies, don’t require ducts. This makes these energy-efficient devices perfect for homes without existing ductwork.
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