When compared to gas furnaces, electric home heating systems have cheaper up-front costs, are easier to install and run more quietly, but they also are less energy efficient and heat less effectively in cold climates. Electric furnaces also have a longer lifespan than gas furnaces.
While a forced-air electric furnace normally costs from $500 to $1,000, a central gas furnace can cost anywhere from $1,700 to upwards of $12,000. However, electric furnaces consume more energy to heat up to the desired temperature and tend to have lower efficiency ratings than gas furnaces, so heating costs are generally higher. Electric furnaces also tend to be smaller and have fewer installation prerequisites than gas furnaces, so homeowners can often install them without professional assistance. Maintenance is also easier, as most problems can be troubleshot by the homeowner, and there are fewer safety risks such as explosions and fires. Electric furnaces have an average lifespan of 20 to 30 years, while gas furnaces often last half that long.
Gas furnaces heat up to higher temperatures than electric furnaces, so they have an easier time keeping up when the outside temperature drops. They also heat the home immediately upon being turned on and do not have to spend time heating up like an electric furnace.