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The Different Types of Furnaces


There are five different kinds of furnaces: electric, natural gas, oil, propane, and geothermal furnaces. Electric and natural gas furnaces are the most common, however, that doesn’t necessarily make them the best. In this blog post, we will cover the five different types of furnaces and what they do, what makes them different, and their costs. We will also be discussing which one might be the best for you and your HVAC needs. 

Electric Furnaces

As the name suggests, electric furnaces are powered using electricity. They tend to be cheaper and safer than the other types of furnaces and that is what makes them so popular. Electric furnaces, like natural gas ones, are also available nearly everywhere. While they may be cheaper to install than natural gas furnaces, electric furnaces cost more in the long run. As stated by Modernize Home Services, it costs 63% more to heat a home using an electric furnace than to use a natural gas furnace. Nevertheless, electric furnaces have one huge pro: they have long lifespans. They can last up to thirty years while other types of furnaces usually last fifteen to twenty years. They also do not require a venting system for fuel, unlike other furnaces such as natural gas, oil, and propane ones.  

According to Home Advisor, the average electric furnace installation costs $4,059. The unit itself costs between $500 to $1,500, but the additional costs for installation come from labor, drywall repair, permits, and more. Electric furnace installation usually costs less to install than other furnaces. They also do end up costing more though as mentioned above. Electric furnaces have a cheap installation, but how much it costs to run them quickly overrides it.

Electric Furnace

Natural Gas Furnaces

Natural gas furnaces are the most popular furnaces. One reason why is because they are more affordable to run than electric ones. Another reason why is that as mentioned in the “Electric Furnace” section, it costs significantly less to run a natural gas furnace than an electric furnace. Gas furnaces cost more to install than electric ones, however. They also require a venting system so that they can transfer fuel. The venting system is an additional cost. Gas furnaces end up being cheaper than electric furnaces because they cost less to run. Gas is cheaper than electricity so you will find yourself paying less for fuel over the years than if you decided to go with an electric furnace. 

The price of gas furnaces and installations varies greatly. Some sources say that they cost between $2,000 to $5,000. Other sources say they cost between $3,000 to $10,000. All in all, the cost depends on the HVAC company, the furnace brand, the efficiency of the furnace, and the venting system. Some venting systems require drainage and multiple heat exchanges. This is usually the case with high-efficiency furnaces. When shopping for a natural gas furnace it’s important to take into account how many factors influence how much you will be paying for it. Ask the HVAC company you choose what each part costs to make sure that you are getting the most out of your money. If an HVAC company refuses to answer, seek out a different HVAC company to install your natural gas furnace. 

HVAC Technician Working on a Natural Gas Furnace

Oil Furnaces

Due to the regional availability of oil, oil furnaces are not accessible to some customers. Oil has to be stored in a tank and refilled regularly. The tank has to be checked frequently. Depending on the size of the oil tank will depend on how often it will have to be refilled. Expect to refill an oil tank at least twice during the winter. One major reason why customers choose not to go with oil furnaces is because they are less efficient than natural gas and electric furnaces. Not only are they less efficient, but the oil in them can give off a distinct smell. The oil can also be dangerous because it is highly flammable. 

Like natural gas furnaces, the price of oil furnaces varies significantly. Modernize has calculated that the average oil furnace costs $4,848. The cost includes the installation, the HVAC unit, and the energy efficiency rating of the unit. One of the biggest reasons why the price of oil furnaces varies is because of different brands. Some brands offer longer warranties, higher energy efficiency ratings, and lower costs associated with installation. Depending on your HVAC needs, these factors may or may not be worth the cost.

Oil Furnace

Propane Furnaces

Like oil furnaces, propane furnaces are largely only available to customers in certain regions. Most propane furnaces are used in rural areas. They are similar to natural gas furnaces, but they have a different opening and a different spring. Propane furnaces have a smaller opening. Their springs are a different spring tension than the ones in natural gas furnaces too. Like natural gas furnaces, propane furnaces require a venting system so they can transfer the fuel from the tank to the furnace itself. Propane furnaces, also like oil ones, require a tank. Depending on if you own the propane tank or not depends on how often you will have to refill it. If you don’t own it, then the company that does should refill it a couple of times a year. If you own it then you should take into account the size of it and check it frequently. 

As propane furnaces are not as popular as other ones, there is less information about the average price of them. Propane furnaces’ price and installation also vary because of their demand. Just like in the “Oil Furnace” section the prices of units aren’t set in stone due to several factors. These factors are the same as oil furnaces in that energy efficiency ratings, longer warranties, and costs play a role in why the prices vary. The price of the propane tank is a factor too. If you are buying or renting your propane tank can influence how much you have to pay for fuel. Propane furnaces may be right for you if it is available in your area, but has several downsides.

Geothermal Furnaces

Geothermal furnaces heat homes by bringing heat up from the ground and transferring it. Unlike other furnaces, they don’t work through combustion as they simply take the head already available from the ground. Geothermal furnaces work through a series of hoops that can be different shapes and sizes. The hoops are usually vertical, horizontal, or open. The hoops are buried underground or under a water source. Geothermal furnaces help homeowners to save money as they do not require fuel. As mentioned before, they take what is already available to them. They are available everywhere as they can work in any climate. Geothermal furnaces also have the longest lifespan out of any furnaces currently on the market. A geothermal furnace that is taken care of can last more than fifty years, however, certain parts of the unit will have to be replaced during that time. 

Most geothermal furnaces aren’t like traditional furnaces; they are usually only one small part of a geothermal HVAC system. A geothermal system is capable of heating and cooling a home. It’s important to take that into account when looking at the price. EarthRiverGeothermal estimates that the cost for a geothermal system and the installation of it is $12,000 to $30,000. The factors that influence the cost of geothermal systems are the efficiency of the units, the type of loops used, and the brand of the units. Geothermal systems cost more than other systems due to their longevity and their fuel efficiency. 

Which One is Best?

There is no best type of furnace for everyone. The best furnace depends on your price range, your needs, and what is available to you. For example, oil and propane furnaces would likely be more popular if they were available everywhere. Oil and propane furnaces both cost less to run than electric furnaces. Electric furnaces are the cheapest to install, but quickly surpass their low cost because of how much it costs to run them. In the end, each type of furnace has its pros and cons.


The five different types of furnaces may differ, but all share the same purpose in heating a home or building. While electric and gas furnaces are the most common they aren’t the only options. In this blog post, we talked about the five different types of furnaces and what they did, what made them unique, and what factors play into how much they cost. Do you live in Jefferson County and the surrounding areas and need to install a furnace or service your current one? We can help! Our phone number is 636-475-9384. We offer free estimates and same day service when viable. 

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