Good Bones

Furnaces – Oil, gas, electric – what does it mean?

How should you heat your home?

There are many things to consider when you first lay eyes on your potential dream home. Some of the most predominant features can sway your decision before you even make it through the front door. However, it’s wise not to overlook some of the less romantic features of your potential purchase because what you don’t know or understand could end up costing your money, stress and frustration.

One of the most critical areas you’ll want to familiarize yourself with is the heating system in the home. This will impact you all year long so the more you understand about how your house is heated, the more confident you’ll be making a sound decision to buy.

There are generally three types of heating systems in North American homes: natural gas, oil and electric. Each one functions differently and each system comes with its own list of pros and cons. Before you buy, take into consideration the location of your new home and access to resources such as oil or gas. Your monthly budget and patience for maintenance will also play a factor in the type of heating system that works best for you and your home.

Electric, oil or gas?

Oil Furnaces

Oil furnaces are common in colder climates due to the fact that oil burns 300 degrees hotter than natural gas and heats quickly. Oil is converted to heat through a safe and environmentally friendly process. The lifespan of an oil furnace is expected to be anywhere between 15 – 20 years with regular maintenance and you don’t have to worry about running out of supply.

While oil is considered efficient and economical, oil furnaces are prone to leaks and the contained exhaust does require maintenance to keep the unit running efficiently. The other draw back is that you will have to have the oil delivered to your home regularly which means you also have to keep an eye on your supply.

Gas Furnaces

A gas furnace uses natural gas as its fuel instead of oil and is cheaper to maintain. It’s also touted to be the cleanest and most efficient of the heating system options on the market. It is known to produce very few waste products and can be used in conjunction with central home heating systems as well as water heaters or anything else that requires heat in your home. The lifespan of a gas furnace is estimated between 10 – 20 years. There are some great benefits to using gas and the first one you’ll notice is when the temperatures drop and your home heats up quickly. The furnace units break down infrequently and therefore require few repairs. Many prefer gas heating in their homes simply for these benefits.

Some complaints about gas heating include the amount of low level of carbon monoxide emissions meaning your furnace will require regular maintenance to ensure the safety of your home. If your furnace is not well maintained, it can be noisy and neglecting regular maintenance can put you at risk for accidental fires or explosions as well as carbon monoxide poisoning.

Electric Furnace

Electric heating is convenient and quiet and uses electricity as its main power source to create and push out the heat. Installment is easy as the units are small and maintenance isn’t as involved as with gas or oil furnaces making it a popular choice in many homes.

While electric heat is more favorable for many, it isn’t considered to be as economical since running costs are higher and the units aren’t as energy efficient as the others. However, most current units are solar convertible meaning they can be connected to solar panels. Electric heating is safe and requires less worry and maintenance, as there are no dangerous gases and no leaks.

However when the days become chilly, electric heat can have a hard time keeping up with the cold and can be difficult to maintain a high indoor temperature.

So when you’re making the decision to buy your home, don’t forget what a critical role the heating system plays from both a cost and up-keep perspective. Regular maintenance of any of these systems will help reduce frustration and help to ensure a longer lifespan of your furnace giving you longer-lasting comfort in your home.