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Which is cheaper: gas or electric?

Joe Minihane
Written by  Joe Minihane
Updated: 06 Apr 2023

If you're looking to save money on your energy bills, it's handy to know just how expensive gas and electricity are. Let's compare the two side by side.

Gas vs electricity: what’s the difference?

This is an important question to consider when it comes to heating your home and running your appliances.

Gas systems use a boiler to send hot water to connected radiators, taps and showers, and often also supply heat to cookers and ovens.

Electricity, meanwhile, has the capacity to power everything in the home, from your TV to your kettle, while also delivering warmth through devices such as storage heaters and electric radiators. While not all homes are connected to a natural gas supply, electricity is available to just about every home and also more versatile.

boiler

Is gas cheaper than electricity?

On the face of it, gas is significantly cheaper than electricity. The current Energy Price Guarantee at the time of writing, due to run until June 2023, prices gas at 10.3p/kWh, while electricity is over three times more costly, at 34p/kWh.

However, there are other factors to consider. Gas boilers are inefficient compared with electric systems, while having an Economy 7 or Economy 10 meter installed by your electricity supplier means that you can slash the cost of electricity for seven or ten hours during off-peak hours, usually overnight. This isn’t an option for gas.

It’s also worth remembering that gas boilers require regular maintenance and can be expensive to repair and replace when the time comes.

Is it cheaper to heat my home with gas or electric?

If you already have a gas boiler installed, then it is slightly cheaper to use gas than electric. However, this requires being smart, and taking energy-saving measures such as switching off radiators in rooms you are not using. You can also save money by turning down the temperature on your thermostat. Even doing so by a single degree can make a difference.

Electric heaters have improved greatly in recent years, however. And it’s also worth remembering that, if you don’t have one, installing and maintaining gas-based central heating requires a large outlay. It may be more cost efficient to retain your electric system rather than installing a new gas-based one.

Is it cheaper to cook with gas or electricity?

Gas ovens are much cheaper to run compared with electric ones. However, this only tells half of the story. Ovens tend to need to be left on for longer, while electrical appliances such as microwaves and air fryers can often do the same job in much less time, using less energy in the process.

Those with electric ovens should make use of the internal fan if it has one, as this means you don’t need it turned to a higher heat, saving money in the process. It’s also a good idea to batch cook lots of food at once and freeze it, thereby limiting your oven use.

Electric-based induction hobs are also as speedy and adaptable as gas cookers and are easier to clean too.

Gas fires, electric heaters and wood burners

While electric heaters may not be aesthetically pleasing, they tend to be portable, require less cleaning, and can be quickly turned off and stored away when not needed. Although gas fires are cheaper to run, like boilers they cost a lot to install.

Wood burners look great, but are far more expensive to run, especially during colder spells. It’s also worth remembering that some local authorities are planning on limiting their installation and use due to environmental concerns.

What’s the greenest way to heat my home?

With the government banning the installation of gas boilers in new-build homes from 2025, and an increasing understanding of gas’s detrimental impact on the environment, green options are becoming increasingly popular.

Heat pumps are seen as the future of green heating. Powered by electricity, they gather up heat in the air and ground surrounding your home, using it to warm the inside of your property as well as your water.

Biomass boilers are also having a moment, using wood pellets, chips or logs instead of gas.

Currently there are grants of up to £5,000 available from the government for those who want to replace an old gas boiler with a heat pump or biomass boiler. This, in theory, lowers the cost to around the same as installing a new gas-based system.

It’s vital to remember that such systems only work to the best of their ability when paired with better insulation throughout the home. Doing this will save you money in the long term, but the initial cost can be prohibitively high if you don’t have the cash to hand.

In the meantime, you may be able to get a green energy tariff from your supplier. In short, these mean that the energy you pay for comes from green sources.