When it comes to providing heating options for your home, many people turn to natural gas to power their heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) units. Gas is an incredible power source for sustaining climate control in your house and for the other appliances in your home as well. However, when it comes specifically to your HVAC system, is gas the safest or most efficient option?
Before we unpack the pros and cons of natural gas as a source of power, it is important to understand how gas is used to heat a home. A furnace or boiler is a common conduit for gas-powered heating, and it accomplishes this by burning fuel internally so that it can heat air, water, or steam, before moving that source throughout your home or property to keep it at a comfortable indoor temperature.
This is why many furnaces are called forced-air furnaces, as the method they use puts heated air directly into the rooms of your house. There are a variety of other furnaces that can create heat with electricity, or by burning alternative sources of power like oil, coal, or wood, but the most common power sources tend to be natural gas or liquid propane gas.
What Are the Benefits of a Gas-Powered HVAC?
Homeowners and contractors have debated the most effective way to heat and cool a home for quite some time. Should central air be powered by electricity, gas, or another option? What are the most effective ways to reduce energy costs without sacrificing comfort and safety?
When it comes to gas, several different benefits put it ahead of the other options. Some of these include:
- More Affordable Than Other Fuel Sources – Since gas is typically less expensive than other fuels like electricity or oil, it can help lower your home’s heating costs. This can allow homeowners to invest in more advanced and sustainable options for their HVAC furnace by keeping costs low.
- The Efficient Use of Gas as Fuel – Because gas-powered systems are so effective, the majority of the fuel they use is turned into heat with little waste. As a result, you won’t need as much energy to heat your home properly and this can lower your expenses.
- A Faster Method for Heating Than Electricity – Natural gas can heat the air of your home quicker than electricity or most other fuel options. Gas burns quickly to raise the temperature of your furnace, as opposed to relying on slower methods that convert electricity into usable heat.
- Better in Harsher Environments – In cold climates, gas furnaces are typically more dependable than other options. Natural gas furnaces function well regardless of the weather and do not strain when temperatures drop to low or even below-freezing levels.
If you are worried about consistent heating in unpredictable climates or are looking for a more traditional way to save on your HVAC bill, natural gas is a great choice. There is a reason gas has remained as central to the industry as it has, with effectiveness that puts even the more cutting-edge technology to shame. When looking at the safety and sustainability of gas-powered HVAC however, does it measure up to more modern options like electricity?
How Do I Keep My Gas-Powered HVAC Running Safely?
While natural gas can be a powerful energy source for any HVAC unit, it is important to make sure that it is also a safe one. This can mean avoiding some of the more dangerous issues gas lines can run into, as well as making sure to schedule regular inspections, repairs, and replacements when needed.
When examining your current gas line setup and trying to decide how safe an option it is for your HVAC system, these are a few good things to look out for:
- Be Aware of Harmful Carbon Monoxide Emissions – If a natural gas HVAC system produces carbon monoxide, it is not operating properly and could be harmful to both you and your family, as well as the environment. Your HVAC system needs to be checked at least once a year. This can guarantee that it continues to run properly, keeping you safe and enabling your HVAC to continue to be eco-friendly.
- Clear Out the Area Around Your Furnace – Other items should be kept away from the furnace as these can often lead to a fire hazard. Be especially cautious when handling flammable substances like paint thinner powerful cleaners. We advise keeping flammable material far away from the furnace and allowing for at least a foot of clearance on all sides.
- Have Your Older Furnaces Inspected Often – The potential for a furnace to become unsafe will increase as it deteriorates with age. For example, toxic gas can leak into your home air if an older furnace’s heat exchanger has cracked. This is why regular inspections can be important at this stage. When a master plumber thinks a furnace is too old to continue operating safely, they will be able to let you know.
- Schedule Repairs the Moment There is an Issue – Shut off your gas HVAC system if it ever begins to malfunction, then immediately call your neighborhood gas and plumbing company for repairs. Any delays can harm you, your property, or the properties around you. Quick action will help you keep your heating system running safely.
Making sure that gas-powered HVAC systems run safely is a responsibility for many homeowners around the country. In New York City, the Department of Buildings has created the Local Law 152 inspection, which rotates different city districts through a schedule of mandatory gas line inspections for the sake of continued safety in older neighborhoods. Additionally, NYC also requires these inspections be made by a master plumber, to better ensure the safety of the building, its occupants, and the surrounding city area.
Can a Natural Gas-Powered HVAC Unit be Good for the Environment?
One of the largest benefits of gas-powered appliances that may be shocking to most consumers is the eco-friendly status of gas-powered HVAC units. While many would assume that as a fossil fuel, natural gas would be bad for the environment, the opposite is true. This is due to how inefficient many of the other power sources like electricity or oil can be when powering a home.
Since natural gas burns cleanly, it emits fewer emissions than other fuel sources. This means that, unlike other fossil fuels, gas emits very little sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxide, both of which can lead to breathing issues. Choosing natural gas for your heating unit also lowers the demand for electric power in your neighborhood, which can also be good for the environment in the long run. Additionally, gas is a more sustainable option for both homes and businesses because it is less likely to spill or leak than oil or gasoline.
While gas-powered HVAC units are effective, they also require a fair bit of upkeep to maintain that efficiency and safety. But with a little care, the benefits of a natural gas system for your HVAC unit are clear.