Electric heating systems are usually cheaper up front, are long-lasting, and have lower maintenance requirements, but there are still disadvantages of electric heating systems to consider. If you're considering an HVAC system upgrade or supplemental electric heating sources, looking at those drawbacks can help you choose. When you know the potential drawbacks, you can also better prepare for them and take steps to minimize the effects.
Increased Energy Consumption
Electrical heating systems generally require a lot of energy to keep your home comfortable. The system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature and often has to run longer to get there than a gas furnace. Electrical heating systems can still be considered energy efficient, but they're typically not nearly as efficient as gas furnaces.
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Portable electrical heating units, such as space heaters, also tend to use more energy. Oil convection space heaters store heat better than electrical units. This means the space heater doesn't have to cycle as much, requiring less energy to operate.
Higher Operating Costs
When you compare gas vs. electric furnace prices, the upfront cost is usually cheaper for electric furnaces. However, you often lose that cost savings quickly with the operating costs. In most areas, electrical heating systems cost more to operate than gas heating systems because of the high electrical rates. There are some areas, especially rural areas, where gas prices are higher and might be a less cost-effective option.
Research the electric rates and gas costs in your area to compare them before making your choice. The average cost of electricity in the United States is 13.85 cents per kilowatt-hour, but in some areas, it's much higher. For example, the average in New England is 20.71 cents. Your climate can also make a difference. If you live in a mild climate that doesn't require the heat to run very often, the cost to run it might not be an issue.
Making your home as energy efficient as possible can also lower the operating costs of an electrical heating system. Seal gaps, increase insulation, and fix other energy drains in your home to make your heating system more efficient to lower your utility bills.
Slower to Heat
An electric heating source usually takes longer to heat your home than a gas heating system. The electric system might also have difficulty keeping your home as warm as you want it, which can decrease your comfort or force you to wait longer until your home reaches the desired temperature.
Less Heating Consistency
When you use an electrical heat source, such as a space heater, the heating is usually less consistent when compared to oil options. Units that have a heat transfer liquid can store some of the heat. This gives you a more consistent heat source, whereas electrical space heaters can struggle to keep the space constantly warm.
Dry Heated Air
Electrical furnaces and heating sources tend to make your home's air dry. Lower humidity during the heating season can leave your skin, eyes, and nasal passages dry, and this can be even more difficult for people with allergies. This can make you feel uncomfortable and itchy. Low humidity levels can also dry out wood throughout your home, which can cause it to shrink and result in gaps.