There is a fair chance you’ll need to replace the HVAC or heating system in a rental home to either meet tenant expectations, government energy efficiency regulations or end those constant repair bills. Make the wrong choice and you’ll waste money or lose tenants – or both. Let’s look at the best forms of heating for your rental property along with the information you need to determine what is best for your particular situation.
The Benefits of Electric Heat
Electric heat has a number of benefits in its favor. It is already available pretty much everywhere. Electric heat is safe. Electric radiators are also easy to install and don’t require as much infrastructure as new natural gas heating systems. If someone says a particular room is cold, installing new electric radiators doesn’t create any kind of health hazard. It requires little maintenance. And newer electric furnaces are much more efficient than their predecessors.
The Issues with Electric Heating
One downside is that it can be expensive to run, especially if tenants turn up the heat in their apartments. In contrast, a natural gas heating system typically heats up the whole building to a pre-set temperature. Another issue with electric heating is that you’ll get no heat if there’s a power shortage.
The Benefits of Gas Heat
The high cost of electricity has driven many to consider using natural gas instead. Natural gas is also becoming popular because of its environmental-friendliness. There is less of an impact to the planet when you heat with natural gas than electricity from coal fire plants or with fuel oil. This makes natural gas heating a great choice if you want to market the building as green.
If you’re building a new building, integrating natural gas lines means you could have gas-powered furnaces, water heaters, clothes dryers, grills, ranges and HVAC systems. This allows you to save money on utility costs across the board. While the installation costs are higher for gas heating systems than electric ones, you’ll recoup the investment within several years.
Better yet, much of this infrastructure will work as long as the gas is flowing, though some appliances will need the power to operate. Gas outages are rare unless you forgot to pay the bill.
The Issues with Gas Heating
There are a variety of issues with gas heat. Annual gas safety certificates are essential since gas leaks are a fire hazard. Inspections of plumbing and boilers become a critical maintenance task.
Another issue with gas systems is that they need more maintenance than electric heaters, and these services are more expensive than replacing an electric heating element. Plumbing engineers experienced with calculating gas load can determine the right system to install if you’re going to be heating water as well as the residential spaces with gas heat, and they should be called in to inspect and maintain it, too.
Another factor to consider is the infrastructure. If your building is located in the city, it probably could be connected to the gas line. However, less densely populated areas may not have access to natural gas lines.
If you’re building a new building or looking at long-term energy savings, then natural gas is typically the best choice. If you’re retrofitting an existing building or don’t have natural gas service for a property, electric heat is the better choice.