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How Many Watts Does a Furnace Use? Power Consumption Explored

a home high energy efficient furnace in a basement

Furnaces are a crucial part of a home’s infrastructure, especially in cold and northern regions. Furnaces ensure that houses stay warm in the winter, keeping people safe and comfortable. But furnaces can also use a lot of energy and run up utility costs. How many watts of power does a furnace use? Do furnaces consume a lot of power during regular use?

Furnaces do use a lot of energy, but exactly how much energy depends on what type of furnace you have. There are various different types of furnaces from electric to propane to natural gas. Each type uses a different amount of energy from the others. Electric furnaces use the most electricity because they do not have a secondary fuel source to tap into. But gas furnaces still use some electricity to run the blowers and the pilot light and other minor things. Electric furnaces can use as much as 50,000W (50 kW) if they are large. On the low end, electric furnaces can use as little as 10,000W (10 kW). Gas furnaces typically use less than 1,000W of energy.

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Electric Furnace

Electric furnaces use a lot of energy. On average, electric furnaces will use around 30,000W per hour. That is far more than most other household appliances. Having to use electricity to continuously heat a house using electric heating elements rapidly runs up the power meter. That amount of electricity can quickly become expensive. The average estimated cost to run an electric furnace over the course of a year is $2,000. That translates to an additional $166 per month in electricity bills.

Low High Average
Wattage (W) 10,000 50,000 30,000

Luckily, gas furnaces use considerably less wattage to function, but they do require you to pay for an additional fuel source.

furnace system in the basement
Image Credit: J.A. Dunbar, Shutterstock

Gas Furnace

Gas furnaces use far less power than electric furnaces. Gas furnaces generally use between 400W and 800W. Most of that power is used by the furnace’s fans and blowers. The blowers use electricity to circulate warm air through the house. They are also used to remove potentially harmful fumes and exhaust from the furnace and vent it out of the house. Some gas furnaces also use electricity to maintain a pilot light or as a starter to fire up the gas furnace when it is off. The average gas furnace uses around 600W of power per hour.

Furnace Blower

Furnace blowers use the most electricity when it comes to gas furnaces. However, electric furnaces also use blowers to circulate air. Electric furnaces generate most of their power usage from the heating element, but they also use power from the blower. Here is how much power different types of furnace blowers will potentially use.

Single Speed Blower 500W – 1000W
PCS Multi-Speed Blower 400W – 800W
Variable Motor (Two Stage Furnace) 100W – 600W
Variable Motor (Single Stage Furnace) 200W – 300W

For electric furnaces, these numbers will pale in comparison to the total energy usage but for gas furnaces, they can make a big difference in total energy use.

a furnace blower
Image Credit: J.J. Gouin, Shutterstock

Furnace Power Usage Compared

When it comes to other large appliances, electric furnaces reign supreme. Other energy-guzzling appliances include things like space heaters, air conditioners, hot tubs, and ovens. All of those appliances typically hover around 4000W. In comparison, electric furnaces burn 30,000W or more. Even on the low end, around 10,000W, electric furnaces still use twice as much power as the next appliance.

Appliance Typical Wattage
Refrigerator 150W
Gas Furnace 600W
Oven 2000W
Space Heater 4000W
Air Conditioner 4000W
Hot Tub 5000W
Electric Furnace 30,000W

Gas furnaces fare better. Gas furnaces that use around 600W use less power than most other large appliances. The only large appliance more energy efficient than a gas furnace is the refrigerator which uses around 150W per hour. You do have to factor in the cost of running a gas furnace. The costs vary by region depending on propane and natural gas costs for your hook up.

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There are two main types of furnaces, gas and electric. Gas furnaces do not use very much power, but electric furnaces use a boatload of electricity. The wattage of an electric furnace is roughly 100x that of a gas furnace. Electric furnaces outstrip nearly every other large appliance in the home by wide margins. If you are looking to save money on power, it would be a good idea to switch from an electric furnace to something more efficient, preferably a gas furnace.

Featured Image Credit: oasisamuel, Shutterstock


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