Waiting for Your Gas Furnace to Break?

A senior couple sit at a desk and make their emergency plan.

You might have heard climate advocates sing the praises of heat pumps. They’re incredibly efficient climate-friendly devices that can keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. But replacing the heating and cooling system in your home can get expensive. There aren’t a lot of people who would elect to do this before it’s absolutely necessary.

It’s common (and understandable), therefore, to hear people say they’ll consider making the switch to a heat pump when their gas furnace finally breaks down. Perhaps you’re one of them. In order to actually do it, though, you need to make a plan. Or else you might find yourself in the difficult situation of being forced to get new gas equipment, even if you don’t want it!

When the heat goes out in winter, for example, you can’t wait around very long before getting things fixed. And extreme heat can make going without air conditioning dangerous during summer in some areas. There’s a good chance in either case that there won’t be enough time for an electrician to run new circuits or for the utility to upgrade your service before your HVAC professional comes to install new equipment. So, planning ahead offers you the best chance for making the switch to a heat pump.

There are several steps involved in making the switch off of gas and to a heat pump:

  • Get an evaluation and quote from a heat pump installer
  • Ask an electrician to check that there’s capacity in your electrical panel or hire one to make the required upgrade
  • Hire an electrician to run any necessary new circuits so that your switch from gas is possible in the event that your existing system breaks unexpectedly
  • Budget for the inevitable (that gas furnace isn’t going to last forever!)
  • Be ready so you can actually make the climate-friendly choice you already want to make!

How to afford the switch:
Most households in America don’t have large savings they can use to upgrade to climate-friendly heating and cooling equipment. It’s true, heat pumps are expensive. But so are gas furnaces and central air conditioning. Personal finance advisors, therefore, often recommend preparing financially for the eventuality that your home heating and cooling system will fail (inevitably at the most inopportune moment).

This means costing-out a heat pump upgrade, budgeting savings, and preparing the groundwork for the fateful day that your gas system quits. Fortunately, there’s a good chance that you’ll find a heat pump system will be less expensive than the gas equivalent, thanks to incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act. This savings calculator can help you find out just how much might be available to you.

The most important thing, though, is that you don’t wait. Talk to a heat pump installer and an electrician in your area today. Make a plan now, even if your upgrade won’t happen for a few years still. And once you’ve made a plan for yourself, spread the word: tell your friends, neighbors, and wider community why they should have a plan too!

About the Author
Brett Matulis, Communities Program Director, ecoAmerica

Additional Resources

American Climate Leadership Awards 2024

American Climate Leadership Awards High School Students 2024

Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Children and Youth Report 2023

Path to Positive Communities – Ambassador Training

Path to Positive Communities Resources

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