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Switching to Electric Heating: A Homeowner’s Guide

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If you are a homeowner in search of a new and efficient heating system, you may want to consider switching to electric heating. Electric heating systems are becoming increasingly popular as they are often more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly compared with other HVAC systems. In this article, we will go over the pros and cons of converting your house to electric heat and guide you through the process of switching.

Why Consider an All-Electric HVAC?

Many homeowners are looking at options that move them away from fossil fuel use. Heating accounts for nearly half of a household’s energy usage. If you take steps to heat your home more efficiently and with cleaner sources, it can make a big difference in making your living space eco-friendly and sustainable.

What is an Electric Heating System?

Many homeowners wonder what their options are to reduce their carbon footprint and are exploring ways to switch to electric heat. The most popular HVAC system that utilizes electricity to generate warmth instead of oil or natural gas is a heat pump. A heat pump works by extracting heat from the outside air and using it to warm up your home’s interior. Other electric heating options are:

Radiant Heating – Underfloor electric radiant heat systems use electric cables, mats, or panels embedded in floors to provide an even and steady flow of warmth throughout the space.

Baseboard Heaters – Baseboard heaters consist of electric coils and a fan that blows warm air throughout the room.

Electric Furnaces – An electric furnace uses electricity to generate heat, which is then delivered to your home through a ductwork system.

For this guide, we will focus on electric heat pumps, their pros and cons, and what you should consider when looking to switch.

The Electric Grid

One concern about switching to electric heating is the pull on the grid. There can be large swings in regional demand for electricity depending on weather and other factors. A large draw of power by electric appliances during a cold snap can put stress on the grid. However, new technology such as inverter heat pumps can reduce spikes in electricity usage.

What is Inverter Heat Pump Technology?

Inverter heat pump technology is a type of heating and cooling technology that allows a heat pump system to function with varying outdoor temperatures and heating needs inside the home. In traditional heating and cooling systems, the compressor unit turns on and off to regulate the temperature, resulting in an inefficient use of energy.

However, with inverter heat pump technology, the compressor functions at a variable speed that adjusts to the temperature needs, allowing the system to achieve consistent temperature control more efficiently. Like adapted cruise control, which can sense the car ahead and slows down, inverter heat pump technology can sense it needs to slow down or speed up. This means the heat pump can operate at a lower, more efficient energy level when it’s not needed at full capacity, saving energy and reducing energy costs.

Ductless Inverter Heat Pump Technology

Ductless systems provide an even more efficient way of heating and cooling the home. A single ductless outdoor unit can be connected to multiple indoor units that are installed in each room or zone of your house. Each individual indoor unit can be programmed with its own temperature setting, allowing you to heat or cool different parts of the home independently without wasting energy on areas that don’t need to be heated or cooled. The ductless technology also reduces wasted energy that can be lost through ductwork.

Additional reading: Ducted vs Ductless Heat Pumps

Other Benefits of Inverter Heat Pumps

Consume Only The Energy You Need – Zoning systems driven by inverters provide precisely the amount of warm air necessary to attain the desired temperature – no more, no less.

Consistent Room Temperature – Conventional heat pumps often have temperature fluctuations, while inverter-driven heat pumps adjust to maintain a consistent room temperature, even when the temperatures dip.

Heats Up Quickly – Inverter heat pump systems have higher rotation speeds, which enables them to cool or heat quickly and efficiently.

Energy Use is Even and Steady – Traditional units consume more energy and experience spikes in energy usage every time the compressor turns on. In contrast, variable-capacity heat pumps use less current during startup, resulting in lower energy consumption without any surges.

Additional reading: Heat Pumps 101: FAQs to Get You from Amateur to Expert

Pros and Cons of Electric vs Gas Heat

When it comes to choosing an HVAC system, many homeowners are torn between electric and gas heating. Let’s look at the pros and cons of both options.

Benefits of Electric Heating Systems

Here are a few of our favorite benefits of switching to an electric heating system:

Energy Efficiency – Electric heating systems use electric energy efficiently which can lead to lower energy bills.

Quiet Operation – Electric heating systems operate more quietly than a traditional heating system, without the noise of a traditional heating system.

Environmentally Friendly – As the electrical grid transitions towards sustainability and greater efficiency, electric heating systems will gradually become more environmentally friendly. Although at present, the electricity grid relies heavily on fossil fuels and an efficient gas furnace may be a better option, this situation is likely to change in the coming decade.

Can Be Versatile – Electric heat pumps can also cool your home in summer.

Drawbacks of Converting Gas Heating to Electric

Although there are many benefits to switching to electric heating systems, there are some cons to consider as well. These include:

Upfront Costs – Electric heating systems can have higher upfront costs than traditional heating systems, as they require the installation of new equipment and wiring. A home may also need energy efficiency upgrades such as insulation to get the benefits.

Power Outages – During power outages, electric heating systems may not work, leaving you without heat, especially if you don’t have a backup system. Although this is a rare occurrence, it’s important to be aware of this possibility.

Higher Energy Prices – In some areas, electricity may be more expensive than other fuels, making electric heating more costly than other options in the long run.

Not Ideal for Every Home – Homes with a lot of windows or older homes with less insulation may find that a heat pump can’t keep their home comfortably warm. Gas furnaces put out a hotter temperature than electric heating systems.

Checklist for Switching Your Home to Electric Heat

Switching to all-electric in your home can be a significant decision with many factors to consider. Here are some important things to check as you make your decision:

Energy Usage and Efficiency – Consider your energy usage, and how it’s likely to impact your energy bills. Ensure that you choose an electric heating system that is efficient, and that you have adequately insulated and sealed your home, which will help it retain heat more effectively.

Type of System – There are different types of electric heating systems, each with its pros and cons. Consider which type of electric heating is best suited for your home, budget, and energy consumption.

Availability of Repairs and Maintenance – Ensure that you have access to skilled and qualified technicians to install, repair, and maintain your electric heating system. This is particularly important if you have a unique home layout that may require more specialized services.

Costs – Consider the upfront costs, long-term costs, and energy savings when evaluating the cost of installing an electric heating system. It is also wise to research local energy rates to see if you would see a return on your investment.

Power supply and backup systems – Make sure your electric heating system is connected to a reliable power source, and that there are backup options in the event of a power outage.

Environmental Considerations – If you’re committed to reducing your carbon footprint, consider choosing an electric heating system that uses renewable energy and reduces spikes in demand such as inverter heat pumps.

How to Switch to Electric Heating

Once you have decided to make the switch to electric heat here is a plan for converting from gas to electric heating:

Assess Your Energy Needs – Before making the switch to electric heating, determine how much energy you need to heat your home. A professional HVAC consultant can help with a Manual J procedure. This information will help you determine the right size and type of electric heating system that is best for your home.

Get Quotes – Get quotes from licensed HVAC professionals who are skilled in electric heating installations. Make sure you understand the up-front and long-term costs before making a final decision.

Schedule Installation – Once you have selected the right electric heating system and a reputable HVAC professional, schedule the installation.

MaintenanceRegular maintenance of your electric heating system is important to keep it functioning correctly. Perform regular checks, replace filters, and keep the system clean. It’s also important to have an HVAC professional examine it regularly to catch problems early on.

Electric heating such as a heat pump is a great choice for homeowners who want an efficient, affordable, and low-maintenance option. With the right planning and professional installation, you can enjoy the benefits of electric heating while keeping your home warm and comfortable.

Check Your Electrical Panel

If your home, particularly an older one, has 100-amp or even 60-amp electrical service, you may be able to run a smaller heat pump – especially if it’s of lower capacity such as a mini-split. If you’re using a larger heat pump in combination with several other appliances or an electric vehicle, it may lead to your breaker getting tripped regularly and the need to reset your system.

To ensure this won’t happen, make sure that when having your heat pump professionally installed, they check to see if there is enough capacity on the electrical panel (which should be at least 200 amps) for all of these devices. If it isn’t enough, hire an experienced electrician who can upgrade this standard before you switch to electric heat. You should expect to pay at least a couple of thousand dollars for that work.

Costs of Switching to Electric Heat

The cost of switching from gas to an all-electric HVAC system may vary depending on the size of your home, local labor costs, and the type of equipment chosen. However, in general, you can expect to pay between $5,000 and $30,000 for installation depending on the size and type of system. In addition to this cost, keep in mind that you may also need to pay for an electrician to upgrade your electrical panel, as well as any extra wiring that needs to be done. You may also need to upgrade or weatherize your windows and insulation.

While this is more expensive than getting a standard gas-powered HVAC system, there are many other benefits of switching to electric heat, such as improved air quality and lower energy bills over time. Additionally, tax incentives and rebates may be available for heat pump installation.

Benefits of Working with a Professional HVAC Company

It’s important to hire a professional who is experienced in installing electric HVAC systems, as they will know how to best optimize your system to maximize efficiency. They can also help you choose the right type of equipment for your home, and make sure that the wiring is installed correctly. Switching to all-electric in your home can be a smart and cost-effective choice when done correctly. It’s important to discuss your options with a professional and carefully consider the factors above to choose an electric heating system that is what you need for your lifestyle.

Switching to Electric Heat in Portland

When it comes to heating your home, you want the most cost-effective option that keeps your family comfortable. Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning experts are ready to make sure that you have the best system for your home and lifestyle. Our consultants will help evaluate your home to ensure you have a long-lasting HVAC system that will keep you comfortable in all seasons. We will guide you through the decision so you can avoid extra costs, fewer repairs, and enjoy a long-lasting system.

Our maintenance plans keep your heating system running like clockwork without any stress or hassle. No matter what you need, we’re always just a phone call away.

About the Author

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Amanda Jacobs, Internal Project Manager

Amanda Jacobs is an Internal Projects Manager and 3rd generation member of Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning. She received her MBA from Seattle University and has worked for a leading HVAC training and consulting firm. When not talking HVAC on the Jacobs Blog, you can find her on the golf course or whipping up her famous vegan chili.