When your home’s current heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) starts to give out, it’s time to consider a new, more modern system. As you search online, you’ll see that HVAC systems can be electric only or powered by natural gas. Either one will benefit your home, but which one is better?

At Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric, we’ve seen how a new HVAC system can provide a home with warmth and cool air. For over 15 years, we’ve installed electric and gas-fueled HVAC systems in hundreds of homes across Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. We work with the top brands to ensure homeowners have various HVAC unit options.

Electric and natural gas-powered HVAC systems are the two options homeowners encounter, and in this article, we will review their key differences and shared similarities in the following areas.

  • HVAC operational design
  • Energy efficiency
  • Differences in pricing
  • Installation and maintenance

By having a detailed comparison at your disposal, you’ll be prepared to find an HVAC system that best pairs with your home, whether it’s electric or gas.

What is the Difference Between Electric and Natural Gas HVAC Systems

Both of these systems are capable of providing a home with heating and cooling year-round. Electric HVAC systems only use electricity to generate heat, whereas gas HVAC units use natural gas as a primary fuel source.

The inside of these two systems also differ in how they generate heat but are similar in how they produce cool air.

HVAC Operational Design

Electric and gas-powered HVAC systems share similar cooling parts but are designed to generate heat differently. Both systems rely on a refrigeration cycle to extract indoor heat. Inside both systems are an evaporator coil, compressor, and condenser coil that interact with refrigerant to produce cool air throughout a home.

On the heating end, gas and electric HVAC systems are more different than anything. Gas-powered HVAC systems generate heat through a furnace that uses heat created by natural gas to warm air before it’s circulated throughout a home. Electric-only HVAC systems can have different heating designs.

  • Electric furnace: These furnaces do not use natural gas. Instead, they use electric coils that use electricity to generate heat and are packaged with air conditioners for cooling. These systems aren’t commonly installed in Los Angeles and the surrounding cities since air-source heat pumps are more efficient at heating while requiring less energy.
  • Air-source heat pump: Instead of using natural gas, air-source heat pumps pull in the surrounding air and extract the heat from it. The extracted heat then goes through a complex procedure where it’s used to create warm air circulated throughout a home.

Because of their two-in-one design, air-source heat pumps are the leading option for electric HVAC systems if homeowners want something other than a natural gas-fueled HVAC system. Because electricity and natural gas are two different forms of energy, it can be tricky to compare their energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency

Both electric and natural HVAC systems have highly efficient units and units that meet minimum requirements for energy efficiency. Although both systems have different energy sources, they all follow specific efficiency standards set by the United States Department of Energy.

Here’s a look at the different ratings used to measure the energy efficiency of electric and gas HVAC systems.

  • Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE): Used for gas furnaces, the AFUE minimum rating is .80, which means 80% of natural gas is used for heating and the remaining 20% becomes waste. Some HVAC systems have furnaces with an AFUE rating of .98, which are highly efficient in terms of energy used for heating.
  • Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF2): The HSPF2 rating is exclusive to air-source heat pumps and measures their ability to produce warm air efficiently during cold weather. The minimum HSPF2 rating is 7.5 for split heat pump systems and 6.7 for packaged heat pump systems. A highly efficient heat pump has an HSPF2 rating of 10 or higher.
  • Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER): The cooling portions of both electric and gas HVAC systems measure their energy output for cooling using the SEER rating. The minimum rating allowed by the federal government is 13, and the most efficient cooling systems have a SEER rating of around 20.

All HVAC manufacturers must include these ratings on an energy guide label attached to the HVAC unit’s surface. Homeowners can use these ratings to compare the available electric and gas HVAC systems.


The price for both electric and gas HVAC systems can cost over $10,000, but electric systems, such as heat pumps, can cost a little more than natural gas-fueled HVAC systems. An electric HVAC system may cost more upfront but can cost less to operate than some gas-powered HVAC units.

Although their upfront cost is higher, homeowners with a new electric HVAC system installation can take advantage of available tax credits for heat pumps. High-efficient gas-powered HVAC systems are also eligible for certain tax credits.

In terms of monthly energy bills, electric and gas HVAC systems have differing price ranges due to certain factors such as usage, size of a home, and fluctuating gas and electricity rates. In the following section, we’ll review how similar these systems are in installation and maintenance.

Installation and Maintenance

Installation and maintenance for an electric and gas HVAC system are more similar than different. Both systems can take a couple of days to install, but the total installation time can depend on the size of the home and the number of ductwork required.

Because these systems offer heating and cooling, it’s recommended to have them serviced twice a year before the start of summer and winter, respectively. An HVAC tune-up helps keep the system running smoothly and allows certified technicians to inspect the system’s overall efficiency.

Both systems also rely on air filters to capture dust, pollen, and other particles. It’s recommended to check the air filter once a month and replace it every few months to ensure that your home is circulating contaminants.

Is an Electric or Natural Gas Furnace Right for Me?

As homeowners start their journey to find a new HVAC system, they must first consider whether to go toward an electric or gas HVAC system. Now that you know the differences between these two types of HVAC systems, you can weigh out their features to see which is best suited for your family’s heating and cooling needs.

Whether electric or gas-powered, our technicians work with only the top brands to consult homeowners on which HVAC system is right for their home. At Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric, we understand that not all homes are the same, but each home can be paired with one HVAC system that can keep that house cool during the summer and warm during the winter.

If you’re interested in a new HVAC installation, contact us using one of the buttons below. You can also book an appointment with a certified HVAC technician.

As you weigh out your HVAC options between electric and natural gas, check out this article that goes over the different factors that affect the cost of installing an HVAC system. After reading this article, you can plan out a budget for a new HVAC system.

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