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My home has an old electric, central furnace. All of my neighbors are on natural gas. I pay 5-6 times as much as they do on my heating bills during winter months.

I can either convert my home to natural gas or install an electric heat pump. Air conditioning is not at all important where I live, so considered an insignificant part of the math.

Current rates are:

  • $0.34 per therm, for natural gas
  • $0.14 per kilowatt hour for electricity

As my electric bills are so high, I need to buy the most efficient equipment possible. Upfront costs will be $8-10k regardless of whether I put in a gas or electric furnace.

Based on current rates, what equipment specs and math are needed to estimate the monthly cost of a natural gas furnace vs an electric heat pump?

Update:

Climate average lows in winter: Oct: 29°F Nov: 18°F Dec: 11°F Jan: 11°F Feb: 16°F Mar: 20°F Apr: 24°F May: 33°F

I learned my state offers mail in rebates of $200-375 for installing gas furnaces and a $2000 tax credit for electric heat pumps. Is that indicative of lower costs?

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  • Knowing the insulation of the house is important also, wondering if your neighbours have good insulation and you don't.
    – crip659
    Jun 24, 2022 at 15:20
  • @crip659 I am also working on adding insulation, replacing windows with more efficient ones, etc.
    – Village
    Jun 24, 2022 at 15:23
  • The new upgrades of insulation/windows will probably do more to lessen your cost of heating, than the type of heating system you buy. Check with locals for any rebates for upgrades.
    – crip659
    Jun 24, 2022 at 16:11
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    It sounds like you're looking for a TCO (total cost of ownership) calculation - those are notoriously complicated. You can get closer to an operational cost by converting your "therm" and "kWh" to BTU or another unit of heat energy, these are directly comparable and depend on the efficiency and capabilities of the equipment. Jun 24, 2022 at 16:13
  • Are you in the U.S.? Which state? Many states offer rebates for different types of equipment which will affect the answers. Your climate also makes a much bigger impact on the cost to operate a heat pump than a natural gas furnace.
    – LShaver
    Jun 24, 2022 at 17:09

1 Answer 1

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Heat pumps usually supply air conditioning too so they would be part of the equation. The fact that your neighbors all have converted to a gas furnace should tell you something, maybe that gas is the way to go. your neighbors are a reliable source of information, much more than trying to do the math on a bunch of assumed variables. You didn't state where you live and that's important. If you're in a very cold area, heat pumps might not provide all the heat you need where as a furnace would. Heat pimps usually have a shorter life span because they are used year round where a separate AC and furnace split the seasons. As far as equipment specs, you'd have to get them from different manufacturers and they will differ greatly. you'd also need to know the R value of your insulation. Check around and see what the local vendors in your area are recommending. If you get the specs and know your R value you'll need multi-variable calculus and differential equations to answer your question.. (just kidding)

I spend a lot of time in Chicago,Il and Miami,Fl. There are gas furnaces in Chicago and heat pumps in Miami. Older units in Florida are electric strip heaters and their cost to operate is through the roof. Luckily, we don't need them much.

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  • I'm assuming the gas was installed back in the 1970s when the neighborhood was put in, so I don't know that's the best way to decide based on what neighbors are doing. Is there no simple value, telling me "this uses X Watts per hour" and "this uses Y Therms per hour" to make the comparison?
    – Village
    Jun 24, 2022 at 15:59
  • Average low temperature in January is: 11 °F, Record low: −20 °F.
    – Village
    Jun 24, 2022 at 16:01
  • @Village Those variables would be different for each size unit and would also be different based on efficiency ratings and manufactures. What you're asking is like asking "what's the miles per gallon for a car?"
    – JACK
    Jun 24, 2022 at 16:04
  • Suppose I'm looking at the same manufacturer even, similar product on the outside, just internals they change for gas or electric.
    – Village
    Jun 24, 2022 at 17:59
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    @manassehkatz you don't need to believe in climate change, just peak oil and oil wars. The cure is the same. Vast fields of oil and gas were recently discovered in, well, actually, roughly the rectangle of Kharkiv, Severodonetsk, Donetsk, Popasna, and Dnipro. So if Ukraine joins the EU, who need Russia? Jun 27, 2022 at 17:06

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