Is Gas Cheaper Than Electricity For Appliances?
Andrew Dehan6-Minute Read
UPDATED: August 08, 2022
When it comes to utility costs, electricity and gas are the two major contenders. But if you had to choose between them, which is the better option? As usual, the answer for this depends on your circumstances. This choice largely depends on your needs and what you’re looking for in your home.
Here we’ll cover the expenses of gas vs. electric, including operating costs and installation costs. We’ll compare gas and electric versions of three major appliances: your water heater, furnace and stoves/ovens. Then we’ll try to weigh both and tackle whether gas or electric is right for you.
Let’s get started.
Gas Vs. Electric: What’s The Cost?
Is gas cheaper than electricity? The answer is almost always yes when talking about operating costs. Gas appliances may have a higher upfront cost but will save homeowners money on the utility bill.
In general, operating costs for appliances using natural gas are cheaper than those fueled by electricity. According to Washington Gas, a 2,300-square-foot home in the Washington, DC, area could save around $350 a year by switching from electric to gas.
Where electricity is derived from a variety of sources (including natural gas), the heat from gas comes from burning natural gas. Natural gas is historically a cheap source of fuel. Using it to heat your home and your water can be more efficient than electricity.
Though operating costs associated with gas are cheaper than electricity, there are other costs to consider. For example, if your home isn’t set up for natural gas, you’ll need to pay a plumber install a gas line. You’ll also need to pay for new appliances.
So, is gas or electric cheaper? That depends on your home and the specific appliances. There are also some other costs to consider.
Other Cost Factors To Consider
Consider whether gas or electricity would be cheaper over the appliance lifespan. When talking furnaces, for example, an electric furnace can last 10 or more years than its gas counterpart.
Paying attention to appliance lifespan and replacement cost is important when weighing electric vs. gas. Consider also:
- Location: Natural gas prices vary nationally. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has a helpful map of which states are most expensive. For example, people in Maine or Florida pay over twice as much for natural gas than those in much of the midwestern U.S.
- State regulations: 17 U.S. states have deregulated energy markets. This means you can choose how you buy your electricity and/or natural gas. Research what regulations are in your state. You may have the opportunity to shop around for the best price.
Gas Vs. Electric Appliances: How Do They Compare?
What’s The Cost To Convert Energy Sources?
Converting from electric to gas is much more difficult than converting from gas to electric in most cases. Since you already have electric throughout the house, it’s not hard to add an electric line for a new stove or electric water heater. Running a gas line for gas appliances is much more expensive.
According to HomeGuide, the average cost to run a gas line for a new gas appliance can cost $350 - $750. That doesn’t include the cost of installing the actual appliance. There may be other costs on top of this depending on your current setup.
For instance, if your home is currently heated with electric baseboard heat, switching to a gas furnace will require new ductwork to be installed. This can easily add hundreds if not thousands in additional costs.
Still, the cost savings on utility bill of switching to gas or electric may be worth it. Depending on what’s more affordable in your area, the upfront costs could be recouped due to lower utility bills.
Should I Power My Home With Gas Or Electricity?
There are pros and cons of using gas or electricity. Most homes are on the electrical grid, but only about half of them have access to natural gas. Natural gas appliances are more affordable to operate, but are generally more expensive to purchase and install. Still, if the power goes out, you’ll be able to use your gas appliances.
There are some big drawbacks to gas. You have to access to a natural gas supply and there’s additional danger of a gas leak. On top of that, natural gas is a nonrenewable fuel source, so its affordability is directly tied to its supply.
The main drawback with electric appliances is they cost more in operation. Otherwise, they’re cheaper to buy and install, generally have a longer lifespan, require less maintenance and are more energy-efficient. On top of that, if you ever plan to get power from renewable sources (like solar or wind), you’ll need electric appliances to take full advantage of that.
The Bottom Line: Pick The Energy Source That Works For You
What it boils down to is you need to pick the right energy source for you and your house. Both gas and electric have their upsides and downsides. If your home is setup for just electric, do the math to determine if installing gas lines is worth it for the monthly utility bill savings. Depending on where you live, the savings may not be that great.
If you’re concerned about your major appliances going down, consider getting a home warranty to cover their repair and replacement, giving you one less thing to worry about.