I have a natural gas furnace but I want to use electric heat?

What is better for the environment? I have a natural gas furnace, but in my area all of our electricity comes from hydro dams. So would I be better off using electric heaters to go more green? We have very cold winters and they last about 5 months. I am thinking of buying some plug in electric heaters, is this a good idea? I must confess that I also want to save money as our natural gas is going up in price this winter by 30%, would using electricity save me money?

5 Responses to “I have a natural gas furnace but I want to use electric heat?”

  1. Mike88 Says:

    No, stick with gas for now, any unused electricity from the dam will be used elsewhere. Also heating your house with a high efficiency gas furnace creates nearly no pollution, its a very clean fuel. If you do want to use electric get an electric furnace installed with a heat pump. Using portable heaters will cost a fortune in your electric bill, and its bad for the environment.

  2. PR2 Says:

    No it will not save you money, but look to green sites for better ways to heat your home if you are that concerned about environmental issues. The greenest gas is methane which pollutes our environment and to burn it is cleaner than releasing it. It comes out of the ass and fermenting poo of all mammals. If you install a septic tank you will have your own gas supply. Or eat allot of veggies and stick a tube where the sun don’t shine.

  3. more slack Says:

    Natural gas is still the cheapest way to heat your house, and electricity the most expensive. Of all the hydrocarbon fuel options of is also the lowest CO2 emitter, and comes from mostly North American sources.

    Another way to look at it is, the hydro you’d be using for heat would have to be made up for from another source, such as coal. Coal is the very dirtiest fuel there is.

    Spend the money instead on making your house more efficient. Consider solar panels to reduce your grid load.

  4. Classy Granny Says:

    Stick with the gas. You could set it fairly low and use one electric heater in a room where you spend the most time, but shut it off when you aren’t in there.

  5. PhilC Says:

    I have to disagree with some of the existing answers on a few points.

    First, most are correct in saying that generating heat from electricity is not a cost-effective thing to do, unless on a very small scale (e.g., a space heater in one room for short periods of time). Heat pumps, however, (especially geothermal that extract or dissipate heat from or into the ground) can be very, very economical because they transfer heat instead of creating it.

    Fossil-fuel systems (gas, propane, oil) are most efficient when the temperature is very cold for long periods of time. Heat pumps are more efficient than fossil-fuel systems at milder temperatures (e.g., spring and fall months).

    "Dual Fuel" systems — a heat pump with a fossil fuel backup — allow each system to operate at its most efficient, the heat pump when it’s mild and the fossil fuel when it’s colder.

    Much depends on the age of your gas furnace whether it would make economical sense to replace it; but adding a heat pump to make a "dual fuel" system could easily be feasible with a reasonable payback.

    The hydro power likely runs at nearly full capacity during peak times already, so you can’t really say that your electric heat will come from hydro (it’s quite complex, actually).

    I suggest contacting an HVAC dealer who can look at your particulars regarding duct work, fuel prices, equipment costs, home size, insulation, and all the factors necessary to make an intelligent decision. Your electric and/or gas companies may be more than willing to help, too.

    I do agree that buying electric space heaters would not be the best solution, though.