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Electric Heating: Is It Worth It?


In this modern world, home and business owners are constantly on the lookout for high efficiency, lower energy usage, and cost-effective systems. When it comes to heating, most Albertans have stuck to gas-powered furnaces. In fact, Statistics Canada reports that 97% of Albertan homes are heated with natural gas. In recent years, electric heating has picked up more steam but it is still a relatively new technology this far north. If you’re debating the switch to electric heating, you may be wondering if it’s worth the hype. This week, we are going to share some insights about this alternative temperature control system and what it could mean for Albertans.

Types of Electric Heating

For the sake of this article, we are going to focus entirely on systems that heat your entire home and not room-by-room units such as baseboard or space heaters.

  • Electric Furnace. Functioning in much the same way as your gas unit, electric furnaces heats the air and distributes it throughout the home through the use of a blower motor and air ducts. But instead of using a pilot light and natural gas, it switches on a series of electric heating elements. Boilers utilize water to heat each room in your home. And finally, heat pumps pull existing heat from the surrounding air and force it through the home. These units also work in reverse to deliver cool air as an efficient air conditioner.
  • Electric Boiler. While furnaces use air to heat up your home, boilers use water. But don’t worry, in most cases, they don’t require a holding tank. Running water passes through a heated element and then is distributed throughout the home.
  • Heat Pump. The most popular electric option, the heat pump works by pulling existing heat from the surrounding air and forcing it throughout the home. It can even extract warm air on those chilly winter days. In the summertime, the heat pump works in reverse and delivers cool air, making this unit both a heater and an air conditioner.

Benefits & Considerations

  • Efficiency. Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE, is a measurement of how much heat is produced compared to the fuel required to produce it. Natural gas heating at its most efficient can hit up to 98.5% AFUE. While that may seem impressive, electric heating runs at nearly %100 AFUE. That means virtually none of the electricity being used is going to waste.
  • Effectiveness. For Albertans considering electric heating, the cold weather should always be considered. Due to the nature of how the air or water is heated or extracted, it tends to take longer to heat up the entire home than a traditional gas unit. This means that homeowners have to be well ahead of cold snaps and realize that electric heating doesn’t offer the same intensity as gas furnaces do.
  • Cost. The initial installation cost for most electric heaters is typically less than that of a gas furnace. The running costs, however, tend to be higher. This is because electricity is almost always more expensive than natural gas in Alberta.

Heating your home through electricity is possible, but it’s not for everyone. Assessing your needs is an important step in deciding whether to proceed with electric heating. Our experts at 4 Star Electric can help you determine if your current electrical system can be outfitted to support a brand new heating system. Contact our friendly and experienced team today for a consultation.

Written by 4-Star Electric

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