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Homeowners who want to purchase a furnace face three basic choices: gas, electric, or oil. Each has its respective strengths and weaknesses. Below, we’ll discuss the similarities, pros, and cons of all three of these types of furnaces and their effect on your Baltimore, MD, home.


Gas, electric and oil furnaces require electricity to run. If there is a power outage, you may be left sitting in cold rooms unless you have a backup generator installed.

Because gas and oil furnaces burn fossil fuels, their environmental impact is less than ideal. Furthermore, although sensors and other safeguards exist to prevent this from happening, there is a chance that a damaged gas or oil furnace may leak carbon monoxide. If this happens, it can be quite dangerous and require immediate professional intervention.

Most furnaces operate by pulling in cold, dry winter air. The heated dry air circulates throughout the home, which may be problematic for people with certain kinds of skin or respiratory conditions.

Gas Furnaces

Gas furnaces burn natural gas to generate power. Gas furnaces tend to be quite common, with as much as 47% of households in the US relying on natural gas to heat their homes. The fact that natural gas furnaces are so widespread has a few important consequences.

First, natural gas tends to be rather abundant, which ensures that operating a gas furnace will most likely cost less than an electric one, especially in colder climates. However, gas furnaces can have high up-front installation costs despite their efficiency and cost-effectiveness. In addition to installing the unit itself, you must install a gas line if you don’t already have gas appliances.

Natural gas produces more heat than other fossil fuels or electricity. That means your rooms will warm up faster if you own a gas furnace.

Electric Furnaces

Since virtually all homes already have access to electricity, installing an electric furnace is a relatively simple job. Although electric furnaces can operate quite efficiently, they work best in areas that tend to have mild winters. This is because electric furnaces work like oversized hair dryers, pulling air into the heat exchanger where electricity heats the coils, which warms the air.

Electric furnaces are perhaps the easiest of all furnace types to maintain. This is because there’s no issue of soot or oil finding its way into furnace valves. Therefore, there’s generally much less to clean and lubricate.

Oil Furnaces

Compared to gas and electricity, relatively few people in the US use heating oil to warm their homes. Despite this, heating oil furnaces stack up surprisingly well against the other two alternatives. However, like gas and electric furnaces, an oil furnace is powered by electricity and will not continue to run during a power outage.

For instance, when controlling heating output and fuel prices, heating oil furnaces can actually run even more efficiently than natural gas furnaces. They are also safer than natural gas furnaces because heating oil is not combustible.

Gas furnaces have a typical lifespan of about 15 to 20 years, while a heating oil furnace can easily function reliably for up to 30 years. This is comparable to the 25-to-30-year average lifespan of an electric furnace.

While electric furnaces perform relatively poorly in frigid climates, heating oil furnaces excel there. They provide deeper and much longer-lasting heat than electric furnaces do. On the other hand, heating oil is not cheaply available everywhere, which is why there is a concentration of homes with heating oil furnaces in the northeastern US.

It’s impossible to say which type of furnace is the best overall. Each has its own respective strengths and weaknesses, and which one is best for you will depend on your circumstances. Call Griffith Energy Services, Inc. for heating services around Baltimore, MD, and enjoy whichever type of furnace best suits your needs.

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