An electric furnace is a furnace that runs using electricity as its main power source to both generate heat and push the air through the central heating system. In many cases, an electric furnace is considered one of the most costly types of furnaces to run. However, in some cases, especially where there is a lack of natural gas infrastructure or where it does not get very cold, it may be one of the few convenient options available.
The electric furnace works by using electricity to heat elements inside the furnace structure. A fan then draws cold air from intakes and forces it past the heating elements, which heat the air and send it into the home. The process is very similar to the way a forced-air space heater may heat a room.
Many may be surprised to learn that an electric furnace is one of the most efficient types of furnaces to run, if one is looking strictly at the heat loss aspect. There are no noxious gases being created and therefore no need to have flues or other discharges for those heated gasses, so all heat goes into the home. However, when compared to natural gas or heating oil, electricity tends to cost more, making it a bad choice from a price perspective.
For those who do have an electric furnace, there are a number of other advantages in addition to the efficiency. First, nearly every place in the modern world has infrastructure already in place for electricity. This may not be the case for natural gas. Second, there is no need to worry about carbon monoxide or other harmful gasses because they simply do not exist. Most electric furnaces are also very safe from a fire risk standpoint as well.
An electric furnace does not remove as much moisture from the air, either. This can be a big benefit in colder climates when they air gets especially dry. Maintaining more humidity in the home can lead to a much more comfortable environment than other furnaces may be able to provide, though the dry air can be corrected with a humidifier during those dry months.
In the end, the efficiency benefits hardly outweigh the economic liabilities associated with an electric furnace, at least for many people. Still, for those who have no choice or who want a maximum amount of comfort, it may be a hard product to beat. While no heating system is perfect, each one, including electric furnaces, have their good points.