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Thread: Gas furnace vs. electric heat

  1. #1

    Default Gas furnace vs. electric heat

    We have a 3 bedroom, 1200sq ft house built in the 1940's on a flat slab with a wall furnace and fireplace as the sole heat sources. The bedrooms do not get even heat, only the living room and kitchen when the furnace/fireplace are on. We are planning to upgrade to either forced air gas furnace with ductwork or electric heat through wall units or baseboards.

    We plan to live here 2-3 more years and then use the house as a rental or sell. We've gotten estimates on the gas furnace and installation and are wondering if it makes more sense in our situation to go with the electric heat given we will not be in the house long term and may not make our money back.

    Anyone have a sense what it costs to install electric heating in a house our size? Any opinions on which option is better economically? Many thanks.

  2. #2
    Homeowner geniescience's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    humid summers hot, humid winters cold


    so many factors come into play, it'll never be clear unless you are willing to answer a hundred questions.

    some people will even tell you to live with the heating you have for the next two winters and just add a spot heater here and there. i think many will tell you that electric baseboards are best if you are planning on leaving the house in two years, since you minimize your costs.


  3. #3
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    San Diego


    You didn't mention the climate you are located in. If you have a lot of very cold weather, electric heat is extremely expensive in most parts of the country. But if you are in a mild climate, with only a modest need for heat, then the electric baseboard would probably be quite a bit less expensive to install, so for a least a short run may be the cheapest alternative in total.

  4. #4
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    New England


    The utility costs vary radically across the country, and even from town to town. Where I live, electric ends up costing probably 5x what it costs to heat with gas. You need to research your local costs. Often the labor for ductwork will make the installation costs higher. Ducts can allow you to add a/c more efficiently, if that is a factor.

    As opposed to traditional large metal ducts, if space is a factor, there are high-speed, small outlet air distribution systems, but again, those are costly. Depends on how much space you have - the small ones are easier to hide (typically in the ceiling, and small outlets).
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  5. #5
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Yakima WA


    I can tell you that in the Pacific Northwest, our electric rates are far less than in many other areas. That said, it is still far less costly to heat with a new generation gas furnace. Electric baseboard heaters cost much more to operate than an electric furnace. More over, if you install a forced air gas furnace, you can also install central air conditioning.

  6. #6


    Thanks for the information. We are located in Seattle and have a house that is cinder/brick with little insulation. My concern with the gas is that the furnace will be on constantly in the winter trying to keep the heat of the house up, while we could use the baseboard/wall heat just in the rooms we are in. I'm mostly looking for my ROI if we install the gas furnace/ductwork if we are only going to be here another 2-3 years and are looking at about $6500 at the outset.


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