Knowing the type of heating system that you have in your home is essential. Not only can it save money, but it can also help prolong the life of your furnace and prevent serious accidents from occurring.
Homeowners nowadays mostly use forced-air heating systems. However, there is still a chance that you might find some people using radiators or baseboard heaters.
The good news is that both can get the job done and keep your home warm.
How Do I Know if My Heat is Gas or Electric?
To know if your heat is gas or electric, look in the small window located on the front of the heater. If you see a blue flame, then it’s a gas heat exchanger. If it’s not a blue flame, then it’s electric heat exchange.
Both gas and electric heaters work the same. They usually use a fan to force the air through the heat exchanger (gas) or the heating element (electric) and push the heated air through air ducts to different rooms in your home.
Is My Furnace Gas or Electric?
The best to check for this is by looking at the outside system. There is usually a label that specifies if it is a heat pump or an air conditioner. But if it doesn’t have that kind of designation, you can search on the web through the model number and brand name.
Alternatively, you can check for horizontal brass pipes within your condensing units. That’s because they are usually unique to heat pumps. Using these two options is a sure way of getting you the correct answers.
How Do I Know if My Heat is Gas or Electric?
If you’re wondering whether the forced air heating is gas or electric, we have a step-by-step process on how you can check that efficiently.
The first thing you need to do is ensure that it’s a forced-air heating system. If you happen to have vents and ducts in your home instead of baseboard heaters, radiant heat, mini-splits, or a boiler, then you probably have forced air.
First Step – Turn up the thermostat. As it starts to kick in, you’re supposed to hear the air moving through the air ducts and then feel the warm air begin to circulate.
Second Step – This step involves finding the location of your forced air heating unit. It might be in your basement, attic, utility closet, or even in an outside access panel. If you’re not sure, then try following the ductwork and work your way back.
Third Step – You may find out right on the unit whether you have gas or electric heat. Sometimes it can be that simple. Therefore, you may start by looking at the labels. But if not, then you can typically tell by looking at the front panel.
A gas heat exchanger uses a burner to produce heat. There’s usually a small window located on the front of the heater. Look inside the window, and if you see a blue flame, it’s a gas heat exchanger.
Other units might have a small metal panel that is easy to remove. You can also check behind there to see if you see the blue flame.
Unfortunately, electric systems don’t have that access window or panel. This makes them make a bit of noise. Although a gas forced air system uses burners in a combustion chamber to heat the air, electric furnaces use electric coils. These coils turn hot when there is electricity running through them. The hotter you need, the hotter the coils will be.
Gas units usually have a black cast iron pipe, copper pipe, or yellow plastic hose connection. On the other hand, electric forced-air heating systems typically have heavy gauge wiring covered by flexible metal.
But if you’re still not sure if it’s forced-air heating gas or electric, you can copy down the unit’s brand name and model number. After copying, go ahead and conduct an internet search by the model number. This will undoubtedly give you the answer that you need because there is vast information about these different models on the web.
Are Most House Heaters Gas or Electric?
Natural gas heats most of the homes nationwide, but other fuels dominate regionally. It is estimated that approximately 48% of all U.S. homes use natural gas for heating.
Research by the Census Bureau data also shows that electricity is used in 37 percent. Approximately 14 percent of all U.S. homes use other fuels.
The climatic effects of the fuels used for heating could be significant, especially when the electric power sector begins a long transition away from coal and natural gas.
Currently, natural gas piped directly into homes is the dominant source of heating fuel in every region but the South, where more than 60 percent of households use electricity.
Gas vs. Electric Heat
Electric heaters are less expensive to run, easier to install, and don’t require a chimney as gas heaters do.
Concerning maintenance, gas heating has advantages over electric heating.
Gas is typically less expensive than electricity, and gas heaters are more efficient in warming up larger rooms.
Electric heaters may be more cost-effective in small spaces.
Types of Heaters
Both gas and electric heaters differ in various. There are different types of gas heaters and different types of electric heaters. Let’s take a look at them in this section.
Types of Electric Heaters
There are two types of electric heaters. They include:
- Radiation heaters – This heating element reaches high temperatures and is packaged inside a glass envelope, emitting heat as infrared radiations. A reflector directs the heat away from the heater, and the radiation travels through air until it reaches a heat-absorbing body. They provide spot heating. Examples include infrared heaters.
- Convection heaters – Heating elements heat the air next to it by convection. Hot air rises, and cold air rushes in to fill the gap and is heated. Therefore, a constant hot air current flow is set up. It is ideal mainly for closed spaces. Examples are ceramic and oil-filled heaters.
Types of Gas Heaters
There are also two types of gas heaters. They include:
- Flued heaters – These types are installed permanently. Flue installation should be at the correct height to extract all the emitted gas.
- Non-flued heaters – These types of gas heaters are vent-free or flueless. The good thing about them is that you can use them in a room with proper ventilation. However, the ventilation might end up cooling the room.
The cost of installing gas heaters is more compared to electric heaters. This is because they need a centralized furnace with flue outlets to install them properly.
On the other hand, electric heaters are comparatively cheaper, which makes them preferred by most homeowners.
A gas heater or furnace requires a chimney to emit emissions due to the burning of gases. Therefore, installation usually requires air ducts and vents throughout the house. The heater itself is also quite large and requires professional installation.
However, portable electric heaters don’t require any installation. Wall-mounted electric heaters need to be installed, but the installation is easier than gas heaters, which means you can even do it yourself.
When it comes to efficiency, gas heaters are more suitable for larger homes than electric heaters. The reason for this is that the heating is faster than electric heaters.
Households with only a few members won’t require quick reheating because the storage is usually enough. This means that electric heaters can work properly for homes with only a few members.
When it comes to safety hazards, radiation heaters produce focused heating, which makes them pose ignition dangers.
Ventless gas heaters, on the other hand, have to be installed in spaces with proper ventilation. You also have to turn them off before going to sleep.
Partially combusted gas might emit carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, which are hazardous.
Heating removes moisture from the air, which can aggravate conditions of dry skin and eczema. Fortunately, you can use a humidifier to improve the humidity level.
Can You Switch from Gas to Electric Heat?
Gas and electric furnaces are two common types of heating options for residential buildings.
Together with heat pumps, these heating options have significantly replaced oil furnaces. Furnace conversion is designed to switch furnaces from one fuel to another.
The main objective of a furnace conversion is to keep the primary components of the furnace but only change a few smaller parts to use a different fuel.
A good example of conversion is when a propane furnace is converted to a natural gas furnace.
In this case, small nozzle and adapter changes are necessary for the burners and gas lines. However, the rest of the system can stay intact, which helps you save money.
Possibilities of Conversion
The good news is that furnace conversion is not just limited to propane to natural gas. You can also switch modern furnaces in reverse – from natural gas to propane.
If you have additional replacement components, you can convert older oil furnaces to propane or natural gas. But when electricity is involved, it’s impossible for the conversion to happen.
This is because electric furnaces use heating elements, coils of tightly insulated metal that produce heat through electrical resistance.
Therefore, they don’t have the ignition and burner systems that oil, natural gas, and propane furnaces share. This is what makes conversion between gas and electric systems impossible.
Knowing whether your heat is gas or electric is relatively fast and straightforward. All you have to do is follow some of the tips outlined in this post and be sure to conduct more research.
I hope this post has helped you learn from all the helpful information we’ve provided. If you happen to have any questions or feedback, feel free to reach out through email. We’re always here to help however we can.