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  • Gas or Electric Furnace: Which Do You Have and How to Tell


  • June 1, 2021

    Furnaces are essential for homes and businesses in places with harsh winters such as Idaho. However, furnaces do much more than keeping the rooms in your commercial or residential building warm. This is especially true for new surfaces that offer improved efficiency and safety. What is more, new and improved furnaces are quieter and environmentally friendly, in fact if your HVAC system is loud you may have some underlying issues to look at. They are also more durable than old furnaces and will save you money in the long run.

    Whether you are in the market searching for the perfect furnace for your Idaho home or office, or you are tired of your current furnace, it is essential to identify the type of furnace you have. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn how to tell if you have a gas or electric furnace.

    Different Types of Furnaces and How They Work

    There are numerous types of furnaces out there, namely electric, gas, oil, and propane furnaces. Electric furnaces are somehow different from other furnace types because they do not use a heat chamber or exchanger like the other furnaces. Keep on reading to understand the basics of each type of furnace:

    Gas Furnace

    Gas furnaces are probably the most common furnaces here in Idaho and the rest of the country. These furnaces use natural gas piped in from the main municipal line. Gas furnaces are used in more than 57% of homes here in the country. Most homeowners choose gas furnaces over other furnace types since natural gas is one of the cleanest fuel sources out there.

    Most gas furnaces come with an AFUE rating of around 89% to 98%. Although gas is one of the safest sources of non-renewable energy, it still carries the danger of carbon monoxide leaks. That is why users should install carbon monoxide detectors. Natural gas furnaces can last between 15 and 25 years depending on how often they are maintained..

    Once the natural gas from the mainline enters your furnace, the burner will light it. Cold air from your building will enter the furnace, where the warm air in the furnace will heat it in the heat exchanger. Your gas furnace has a vent and an exhaust pipe to remove the exhaust from the combustion. It also has a blower fan that will distribute the warm air in different rooms in your building.

    The thermostat will detect rooms that need immediate heating. The furnace will continue heating your building until it is warm and all the cold air is removed. Once your house is warm enough, the thermostat will switch off to prevent further flow of warm air.

    Electric Furnaces

    Electrical furnaces are also growing in popularity here in Idaho and across the country, thanks to their affordability. According to recent data, the cost of running an electric furnace is half that of a gas furnace. What is more, electric furnaces are easy to maintain. However, you will have to make do with the high electricity cost in your monthly energy bill.

    Besides, electrical furnaces are more durable than gas furnaces. They can last for more than ten years longer than most furnace types, including gas furnaces. Even though users have to incur high energy costs, electrical furnaces are environmentally friendly and are worth the money. Electrical furnaces work the same way as a forced-air furnace. However, electrical furnaces have heating elements instead of gas burners.

    An electric furnace works like most home appliances. It has a thermostat that detects temperature changes and initiates the heating or cooling process. When it gets cold, the furnace will draw cold air in and heat it using the heating elements before passing it over through the blower to your house. This continues until the thermostats detect higher than usual temperatures and reverse this process.

    Tips on How to Tell if You Have a Gas or Electric Furnace

    Many new homeowners cannot tell whether they own an electric furnace or a gas furnace. Thankfully, we will help you to discover the type of furnace you have in your home.

    • Start by turning up the thermostats and listen to the air as it moves through the air ducts.
    • Proceed to find the location of your furnace. Check their utility closet, basement, outside access panel, or attic. You can follow the ductwork to make things easier.
    • Once you locate the unit, check the label to discover whether it is gas or electric. If it does not have labels, you can check the front panel. Gas furnaces typically have small windows on the front panel. They also have a blue frame inside the window. On the contrary, electric furnaces do not have these windows and are quieter. Moreover, gas furnaces might have a copper pipe or a black cast iron pipe, while electrical units usually have high gauge wiring.

    J.A. Bertsch Heating and Cooling

    If you are still finding it hard to identify the type of furnace you have, it would be best to consult a licensed HVAC technician for all your furnace needs. If you live in North Idaho, contact J.A. Bertsch today for everything from consultations, insulations, and even emergency repairs. Call 1-800-FURNACE today to speak to a representative.