Gas vs. electric heating costs

Written by russell huebsch
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Gas vs. electric heating costs
A typical gas meter. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Eddie~S)

As oil and gas become more scarce and fuel costs rise, many are considering the price differential between electricity and natural gas. Which costs more can depend greatly on geographic location and what type of appliances you use. You may even want to factor in the safety concerns of a gas system. For those who wish to go greener, alternative energies can reduce monthly bills and reduce greenhouse gases.

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Identification

Electricity is produced by capturing the heat from the combustion of fossil fuels. Some methods of electric heating, such as electric resistance, can run at close to 100 per cent efficiency, according to the Department of Energy.

Natural gas takes millions of years of heat and pressure on organic materials to form. You can usually find natural gas on top of oil deposits, the Energy Information Administration reports. Natural gas burns cleaner and more efficiently than liquid oil.

Location

Where you live has a tremendous impact on the straight-up costs of electric and/or gas heating, according to energy guru Michael Bluejay. Prices can even vary from town to town within the state. In general, natural gas costs more in the West Coast states and Florida. Thus, you really need to check various providers before you can find the lowest rates.

Appliances

What type of appliances you use also has a drastic effect on the difference between electric and gas heating costs. Although exact usage may vary, the average cost of an electric appliance tends to be slightly higher when using the national averages for cost per kilowatt for electricity vs. the gaseous British Thermal Unit. According to Michael Bluejay, a normal Kenmore stove burner costs £9.20 to run compared to £19.40 for the electric version. However, an oven from the same manufacturer on average costs £18.10 to run by gas vs. £17.3 for the electric companion.

Safety

Gas heating presents a few more concerns than electric, Australia's Better Health Channel reports. Gas heaters can spring leaks and ignite from the pilot light. You must also worry about keeping the house well ventilated to prevent lethal carbon monoxide build-up. While electric heating does not use flammable gas, electricity can warm up nearby by combustibles and start a fire, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports.

Energy Saving Tips

Several methods and alternative energies exist to reduce the cost and carbon footprints of electric and gas heating. The Department of Energy reports that solar panelling produces almost no emissions and can safely and affordably account for up to 80 per cent of an average household's needs. When shopping, look for the Department of Energy's EnergyStar label on high efficiency products.

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