While many homeowners utilize electricity to run their central air conditioner in the summer and propane or LP gas to run their heater in the winter, this switching between fuel methods can seem inefficient and inconvenient, especially if you find yourself facing an empty fuel tank mid-winter. You may wonder whether it's cost-effective (or even logistically possible) to use electricity to power your furnace instead, eliminating the need for an LP storage tank and associated gas bill. Read on to learn more about the factors you'll want to consider when making the switch, as well as what you can expect when swapping out your propane or LP furnace for an electric one.

What should you consider before making the switch?

Often, one of the main drivers of your decision to switch away from gas heat is the price of natural gas or propane. While electricity rates are generally set by your electric company, which is usually required under state or federal law to provide some advance notice to consumers before a rate hike, the cost of propane or natural gas can fluctuate on a daily or even hourly basis. 

Even if you time your LP purchases for the summer slump, when prices are generally lower, you may find that you're paying far more to heat your home in winter than you're paying to cool your home in summer, even if you're in a relatively mild climate without many days of sub-zero temperatures.

High demand for LP and propane gas during the winter can often cause already-high gas prices to rise even further, leaving you stuck between a rock and a hard place if your gas tank runs empty months before the spring thaw. Unless your propane or LP tank has sufficient capacity to keep your home going all winter long, you may find yourself bundling up to ration heat. 

Finally, there's the risk--albeit a remote one--of harmful gas leaks that could cause fire or even an explosion within your home. If you have a gas pipeline straight to your home, it's likely your gas provider will become aware of any leaks before you do, but an LP tank stored at your home may leak for some time before the odor (or faster-than-normal fuel consumption) draws attention, putting you and your family at risk. 

How can you transform your home's heat source from propane to electric?

Although some homes with electric heat utilize heated coils in the walls or ceiling, electric furnaces are quite popular in homes that have central heating and cooling ductwork. But while it's fairly simple to convert a propane furnace to run on natural gas (and vice versa), transforming one of these furnaces into an electric-only one is complicated and time-intensive.

Instead, the better bet is generally just to purchase a new furnace that runs exclusively on electricity. These furnaces operate much like propane and natural gas ones, but instead of using gas to ignite a flame that creates heat, these electric furnaces heat up coils over which air is flowed. This warmed air is then distributed to the rest of your home through your ductwork.

Most of today's electric furnaces are designed to be ultra-efficient, heating the air throughout your home without using much more electricity than a tiny space heater. This can help insulate you against future utility rate increases while lowering your overall energy consumption: something that's good for both your wallet and the environment at large.

Fortunately, if your old furnace is still fairly new or otherwise in good shape, you may be able to sell it locally, either to a private party or to an appliance store. This can allow you to easily defray the cost of a new furnace while getting rid of a device that, while useful, can also become a ticking financial bomb whenever gas prices rise. For more information, contact companies like Arnold Service Co.