Your furnace is the powerhouse behind your home’s heating system, and this furnace comparison will walk you through the different types of furnaces.


A furnace is one of the main components of your HVAC system. When you set your thermostat, you activate the furnace to begin heating air. A fan switches on and circulates this warm air through your home. How the heat is transferred to the air depends on the type of furnace. 

Any furnace comparison should start with an analysis on which type of furnace is most appropriate for your home. This might depend on what energy sources are readily available and your budget.


There are four main types of furnaces: natural gas, oil, electric, and propane. Electric furnaces can heat the air by exposing heated elements, while other types of furnaces typically require a heat exchanger or chamber that warms the surrounding air. Finally, the thermostat signals the furnace to shut off when the set temperature is reached.

Natural gas furnaces are highly economical. While older gas furnaces were only about 65% efficient on average, newer gas furnaces can be up to 98% efficient. Natural gas is also the most popular way that Americans heat their homes; nearly half the country currently uses this energy source. However, usage varies widely by region.

Oil furnaces are most commonly found in the northeastern United States. They are slightly less efficient than gas furnaces, typically between 80-90%, but the upfront cost is lower. Natural gas furnaces can cost up to 25% more to purchase.

Electric furnaces are the cheapest to purchase, sometimes half the cost of a gas furnace. They’re also easier to install and typically last up to 10 years longer. But with the cost of electricity much higher than gas, you’ll pay for the difference with your monthly energy bill.

Propane is a byproduct of oil and gas production. It’s easily stored in tanks and used by almost 10% of U.S. households. This is a great option if gas and oil aren’t readily accessible in your area.


Choose the right size

It’s essential to have the right size furnace for your home. This is typically measured in BTUs, and calculating the correct size depends on many factors. The size of your home, local climate, ceiling height, and even the number of windows all have to be taken into consideration. This is best left to a professional, so make sure to contact a qualified local HVAC expert to help you choose a furnace.

Compare furnace reviews

Don’t just go for the cheapest furnace. A lower-priced unit may end up costing more to operate and repair if it runs less efficiently. Check out customer reviews on any furnace you’re considering before you buy, and ask an HVAC professional for their opinion, too. HVAC professionals often have  insider information, such as firsthand experience with furnace filter pressure drop comparison, which is important because the type of filter you put on your furnace can reduce its efficiency.

Climate and region

Where you live will determine the climate and the availability of energy sources. We’ve already explained that different types of furnaces are more popular in different areas; this is because while gas furnaces are more efficient in some areas, electric furnaces will be a better choice in others.