Ever wondered how apartment buildings heat their units? Many of us don’t give this a second thought, but it’s worth considering since gas and electricity prices vary. So, do apartments use gas or electric heating?
Apartments can use either gas or electric heating. Gas heating is more common in older apartment buildings, while electric heating is more common in newer buildings. Gas heating is cheaper and more efficient than electric heating, but the latter is safer and easier to maintain.
In this article, I will provide an in-depth explanation on how apartments are heated. I’ll also cover how to know which type of heating your apartment building uses, and whether or not the heating type matters. Finally, I’ll discuss some useful ways to save money on your heating bill.
How Apartments Are Heated?
Apartments are typically heated with central heating systems that use either gas or electricity as the power source. These systems are designed to heat the entire apartment complex at once. They are usually located in the basement or another central location within the building.
Electric and gas heating systems work differently, but the end goal is to generate heat that will warm up the apartment. Let’s take a closer look at each type of system:
Electric Heating Systems
Electric heating works by using a system of wires and coils to create heat. The cables are made of a material that has a high resistance to electricity, such as copper or nickel. The coils are materials with low electrical resistance, such as aluminum.
In simple terms, resistance is the measure of how difficult it is for electricity to flow through a material. The more resistant a material is, the more heat it produces when electricity flows through it.
Electric heating systems work by using this principle to generate heat. The coils in the system are connected to a power source, and electrical current flows through them. This causes the coils to heat up, and the heat is then transferred to the surrounding air.
The air heated by the coils rises and circulates around the room, eventually warming the entire room. The process is similar to how a fan works, except in reverse. Fans use electricity to create motion, while electric heating uses motion to create heat.
Gas Heating Systems
Gas heating uses a system of pipes and a furnace to create heat. The pipes are made of metal and connected to the main gas line. The furnace is typically located in the apartment building’s basement.
The furnace has a burner that is connected to the gas line. When the furnace is turned on, the gas flows to the burner. The burner is then ignited, causing the gas to start burning.
Have a Question? Ask HVAC Technician
Click here to use the chatbox to speak with one of our technicians.
No in-home service calls. No appointments.
The heat from the burning gas is then transferred to the metal pipes, which transfer the heat to the air around them.
As the air in the room becomes warmer, it rises and pushes the cooler air toward the floor. The cooler air then moves into the space created by the rising air, eventually heating the room evenly. This movement of air is known as convective heat transfer.
How To Know Which Type Of Heating Your Apartment Uses?
Now that you know how gas and electric heating systems work, it’s time to figure out which type of heating your apartment uses.
Here are a few tips:
- Look for a gas meter on the side of the building. If you see one, there’s a good chance your apartment uses gas for heating (as well as cooking and hot water).
- Check your lease agreement. It should specify what type of heating your unit has.
- Ask the landlord or property manager. They will be able to tell you whether the building uses gas or electric heating.
- Look for a boiler in the basement (for gas) or an electric heat pump (for electric).
- Ask your neighbors. Chances are, if they’re using gas or electric heating, you are too.
- Check your utility bills. If you see charges for natural gas, that means your apartment uses gas heating. If you see costs for electricity, your apartment probably uses electric heating.
- Look for gas lines: If you see a gas line running to your building, your apartment likely uses gas for heating.
- Check if you have an exhaust vent. This metal pipe goes from the furnace to the outside of the building. If you have this type of vent, your apartment uses gas heating.
Does The Type Of Heating Matter?
The type of heating in your apartment doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re comfortable. However, there are a few things to keep in mind since gas and electric heating systems each have their own pros and cons.
Here’s a roundup of the benefits and drawbacks of gas and electric heating:
Gas Heating Pros
- Gas is generally more affordable than electricity, so gas heating systems can save you money on your energy bills.
- Gas systems are more energy efficient than electric systems, so you’ll likely see smaller energy bills with a gas system.
- Gas furnaces also tend to heat homes faster than electric heat pumps. Because of that, gas systems are common in areas where temperatures may get extremely cold, such as the northern states.
Gas Heating Cons
- Gas heating systems require annual professional maintenance to keep them running efficiently and safely.
- If your home doesn’t have access to natural gas lines, you’ll need to install a propane tank, which can be expensive.
- Gas furnaces produce carbon monoxide and other pollutants, so they’re not as environmentally friendly as electric systems.
Electric Heating Pros
- Electric heat pumps produce fewer emissions, so they’re more environmentally friendly than gas furnaces.
- Electric systems are easier to install than gas systems since they don’t require special venting.
- Electric heating systems don’t produce carbon monoxide, so they’re safer than gas furnaces.
Electric Heating Cons
- Electricity is generally more expensive than gas, so electric heating systems can raise your energy bills.
- Electric heat pumps take longer to heat a home than gas furnaces.
Key Takeaway: If you’re looking for an affordable option to save money on your energy bills, gas heating is probably your best bet. However, if you’re concerned about reducing your carbon footprint, or you want a system that’s low maintenance and easy to operate, an electric system might be a better choice for you.
That said, remember to consult with a professional before making any final decisions about your home’s heating system. They can help you determine which type of system is best for your needs and budget.
How to Save Money on Your Heating Bill?
Heating your apartment can be expensive, but, thankfully, there are ways to save money on your heating bill:
- Make sure that your apartment is well-insulated. Well-insulated apartments stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, so your heating and cooling costs will be lower.
- Use a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats can save you a lot of money by automatically lowering the temperature when you’re not home and then raising it again when you need it.
- Only use heating when you need it. If you’re leaving the apartment for a while, turn the heat off or down so you’re not wasting energy.
- Dress warmly. Wearing layers of clothing or using a blanket can help you stay warm without having to crank up the heat.
- Invest in a good quality heating system. A high-quality, energy-efficient heating system will cost more upfront but will save you money in the long run. For best results, choose an Energy Star–certified system. That way, you’ll know you’re getting a system that’s been independently verified to meet strict energy-saving standards.
- Make sure that your heating system is running efficiently. If the system is more than 15 years old, it might be time to replace it with a newer and more efficient model. More recent systems are much more efficient than older ones so you could see significant savings on your heating bill.
Apartments are typically heated using either gas or electric heating systems. The type of system used can affect your monthly usage costs, the level of maintenance required, and your comfort.
Knowing which heating system is used in your apartment complex can help you understand your heating bill and make changes that could save you money.
Following the tips in this article can help you lower your heating costs and keep your apartment comfortable all winter long.