Furnace Repair Brampton

Are Gas Furnaces Bad for The Environment?

are gas furnaces bad for the environment

If you’re a homeowner considering purchasing a new furnace, you’ve probably asked yourself whether or not traditional gas furnaces are bad for the environment. With rising concerns about global warming and its potential effects on our planet, it’s more important now than ever to make responsible decisions regarding heating your home.

While gas furnaces present some environmental issues, there is still hope that they can be used responsibly to reduce their overall impact on the Earth’s climate.

In this blog post, we’ll explore why and how natural gas furnaces contribute to global warming so you can decide if they’re right for your home and the planet!

How Gas Furnaces Work

Before we dive into the environmental impact of gas furnaces, it’s important to understand how they work. Gas furnaces generate heat by burning natural gas, which fuels the furnace’s combustion chamber. This process releases hot gases that travel through a heat exchanger, warming the air circulating throughout the building.

Now that we’ve outlined the basic function of a gas furnace let’s take a closer look at the environmental impact of this common heating method.

The Combustion Process

The combustion process is what sets gas furnaces apart from other heating methods. When natural gas is burned, it produces heat and releases CO2, water vapour, and other byproducts. Combustion requires oxygen to be drawn into the furnace through an air intake. Oxygen mixes with the gas fuel in the combustion chamber, and a spark ignites the mixture, creating a controlled flame. This flame provides the heat necessary to warm the air circulating throughout the building.

Emissions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Other Pollutants

As mentioned earlier, the combustion of natural gas releases CO2 into the atmosphere. CO2, a greenhouse gas, contributes to climate change by trapping heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. Other pollutants, such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, can be released during combustion. These pollutants can contribute to smog and other air quality concerns, negatively impacting human health.

Environmental Impact of Extracting and Transporting Natural Gas

In addition to the emissions produced during combustion, the extraction and transportation of natural gas can also have negative environmental impacts. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is commonly used to extract natural gas from underground rock formations. This process requires large amounts of water and can lead to groundwater contamination. Additionally, pipelines that transport natural gas can leak, leading to environmental damage.

  1. The Environmental Impact of Gas Furnaces

While gas furnaces are an effective way to heat homes and buildings, they also have a notable environmental impact. The combustion of natural gas used to heat buildings releases greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change. Additionally, gas furnaces can negatively impact air quality, leading to respiratory concerns for those exposed. In this section, we’ll explore these environmental impacts in greater detail.

Gas Furnaces and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Gas furnaces release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere during combustion, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and lead to a rise in global temperatures. This increase in temperature has a range of negative impacts, including rising sea levels, more frequent and severe natural disasters, and struggling ecosystems.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), residential and commercial buildings accounted for 11% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.

Negative Impact on Air Quality

The combustion of natural gas in gas furnaces can also negatively impact air quality. Burning fossil fuels such as natural gas releases pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide into the air. Exposure to these pollutants can cause respiratory issues, especially for those with pre-existing conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Additionally, these pollutants can contribute to smog, reducing visibility and leading to other air quality concerns.

Examples of studies have shown the potential negative impacts of gas furnace emissions on air quality. For instance, a study conducted by the American Chemical Society found that gas furnaces in a residential community in Chicago contributed to elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide, which can cause respiratory irritation and other health concerns.

  1. Ways to Reduce Your Footprint

If you’re concerned about the impact of gas furnaces on the environment, there are several steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. This section will explore several ways to make your home heating more environmentally friendly.

High-Efficiency Gas Furnaces

Investing in a high-efficiency gas furnace is one of the most effective ways to reduce your impact. These models use less fuel to produce the same heat, reducing CO2 emissions. High-efficiency gas furnaces typically have an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating of 90% or higher. It means 90% or more of the fuel is converted into usable heat. In comparison, older, less efficient models may have an AFUE rating as low as 50%.

Programmable Thermostats

Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is by using a programmable thermostat. These devices automatically adjust your home’s temperature based on your schedule, so you can save energy when you’re not at home or sleeping. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save up to 10% on your heating bills by turning your thermostat back 7-10 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours daily.

Alternatives to Gas Furnaces

If you’re looking for a more significant change, there are alternative heating methods that are better for the environment than gas furnaces. One option is a heat pump, which uses electricity to move heat from the air or ground outside your home inside. These systems are highly efficient and can provide both heating and cooling. Another option is a solar thermal system, which uses energy from the sun to heat water or air circulated through your home.

Regular Maintenance and Air Sealing

Finally, regular maintenance and air sealing can help your gas furnace operate more efficiently and reduce emissions. A well-maintained furnace will run more efficiently and produce fewer pollutants. Additionally, sealing air leaks in your home can prevent heat from escaping, so your furnace has to work less to maintain a comfortable temperature. Weatherstripping or caulk can fix air leaks around windows, doors, and other areas.


To sum up, gas furnaces can impact the environment due to their release of greenhouse gases and pollutants. The emissions level depends on your furnace’s efficiency and how well it’s maintained. However, you can take steps to reduce your carbon footprint, such as investing in a high-efficiency model, using a programmable thermostat, and sealing air leaks. Ultimately, the best way to reduce your environmental impact is by considering alternative heating methods such as a heat pump or solar thermal system.

Gas furnaces can be bad for the environment if not managed properly. However, with the right steps, you can take action to reduce your impact and create a more sustainable home.

Following the tips outlined above, you can ensure that your gas furnace is as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible.