The Switch to Electric: Is This Furnace Fuel Right for Your Home?

If you need to get a new furnace, whether it's for a custom home you're building or for a home you're remodeling, or even just because your old furnace finally died, one of the fuels you should consider is electric. A lot of people don't like electric for various reasons, one of which is that it's at the mercy of power outages. However, if blackouts and brownouts aren't much of a risk in your region, electricity is one of the better fuels for a number of reasons.

Earthquake Zones

One such reason is that, if you're in an earthquake zone, electricity is less likely to result in additional disaster. It's very common in quake zones for gas-fueled fires to start up after a damaging quake. For example, remember what happened in San Francisco after their great quake in 1906, when fires destroyed much of the city after the quake. You can also find pictures from more recent quakes such as the 1994 Northridge quake, where fuel-line fires sprang up in a few neighborhoods.

Electricity doesn't have that problem. Certainly, electric wiring can start fires, but you don't have to be as worried about a fuel leak after a quake if the furnace runs on electricity.

New Builds or Remodeling

Another consideration is whether or not you're switching fuels. If your old gas furnace broke, it will be cheaper and easier to replace it with another gas furnace. To add an electric furnace, you'd need to close off the gas lines and run wiring to the furnace area.

However, in a new build or a remodel situation where you're redoing much of the home anyway, converting to electric is a lot easier.

Inherent Risks

You actually get rid of a lot of inherent risks if you use electricity for your furnace instead of gas. Carbon monoxide is no longer an issue (at least from the furnace; if you have other gas appliances, you'll still need a carbon monoxide detector), and you don't have to worry about leaks springing up for no reason.

This isn't to say that gas is bad and electric all good; it's actually easy to detect leaks when they're small, both for gas and carbon monoxide (and the home detectors work well). But if you are looking to really minimize exposure to CO, for example, going electric can help you do that. And electric has its own issues, such as the previously mentioned power outages, or bad wiring that leads to fire.

But you should consider electric furnaces, especially if you're in an area prone to quake shaking. It gives you a little more peace of mind. If you want to know more about electric furnaces, a furnace installation company such as Bergmann Heating & Air Conditioning can answer your questions.