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Gas vs electric appliances – which are cheapest to run?

Gas versus electric boilers – which are more expensive? Does it cost more to run an electric or gas oven? If you’ve always wondered which is more cost-effective, read on.

Gas versus electric boilers – which are more expensive? Does it cost more to run an electric or gas oven? If you’ve always wondered which is more cost-effective, read on.

Written by
Dan Tremain
Energy and business energy expert
Last Updated
18 JANUARY 2024
6 min read
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Is gas cheaper than electricity?

Gas is considerably cheaper than electricity per unit. Under the energy price cap, energy customers in the UK will pay a capped rate of £1,923 for their gas and electricity until the end of December 2023. The actual rate you’ll pay depends on where you live, how you pay your bill and your meter type, but here’s what you’ll pay on average:

Average unit rates for energy customers in Great Britain on default tariffs
  Average capped rate Daily standing charge
Electricity 27.35 pence per kilowatt hour (p/kWh) £0.53
Gas 6.89p/kWh £0.30

As it stands, electricity is roughly three times the price of gas per unit. The standing charge, which is the fixed amount you must pay daily for energy, no matter how much you use, is also higher for electricity. However, when it comes to deciding on the best energy source to heat and power your home, there are other factors to consider.

We know the price of energy is a massive concern for many of our customers right now, especially as we look towards the end of the Energy Price Guarantee. To help you make the best decision for your household, we look at how gas and electricity stack up when it comes to two important household needs: heating our homes and cooking our meals.

Is gas central heating cheaper than electric?

Gas heat is cheaper than electric in terms of running costs, but gas central heating tends to be more expensive to install.

Around three in four households in England and Wales have gas central heating, according to the 2021 census, and they benefited from lower average fuel costs than customers with electric, oil or coal heating.

However, if you’re in need of an upgrade and weighing up whether to install a new gas or electric boiler in your home, it’s worth considering the following pros and cons:

Gas vs electric boiler

  • Gas boilers are more expensive to maintain
    Electric boilers don’t require much maintenance once they’re up and running as they don’t involve pipework or a gas flue. Gas boilers, on the other hand, will need to be serviced once a year.
  • Electric boilers are safer
    You eliminate the risk of a carbon monoxide leak by choosing an electric central heating system.
  • Electric boilers are more efficient
    Electric heating systems are typically 99-100% efficient. Although new gas boilers are considerably more efficient than in the past, and should be at least 90% efficient, that means you could still be wasting up to 10p for every pound you spend.
  • Electric boilers have a longer life
    A new gas boiler should last for around 10-15 years, compared to 15-25 years for an electric boiler.
  • Your house may not have a gas supply
    Although new gas and electric boilers are similarly priced, if you don’t have a gas mains supply, you’ll have to factor in the costs of installing a gas pipe – which will be expensive. Having a gas boiler and radiators installed could cost you over £5,000, compared to under £4,000 to install a new electric heating system.
  • Gas boilers may soon be banned
    Although the UK government has yet to make any announcements, it’s widely believed that they will need to ban the sale of new gas boilers from as early as 2025. This will help them achieve interim targets associated with their legally binding commitment to reach net zero by 2050.

How to reduce electric boiler running costs

Electric radiators are more expensive to run but there are ways to cut costs. One way to cut your electricity bills is with Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs.

These give you a cheaper electricity rate at night, and a higher one during the day. The difference between them is the number of off-peak hours you get. With Economy 7, it’s seven hours, and with Economy 10, it’s 10.

This can be of real benefit if you use electric storage heaters, which store heat overnight – when your tariff’s cheaper – for use the following day.

It’s always beneficial to keep tabs on how much electricity you’re using, especially if an off-peak tariff could work in your favour.

Although it may be out of reach for many of us, if you are able to invest in solar panels for your home, you could reduce your electricity bill considerably. They could potentially even make you money because you can sell the energy you don’t need back to the grid.

Did you know?
Under the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme you could get a grant worth £5,000-7,500 to replace your gas, oil or electric heating system with a cleaner, low-carbon alternative.

The grant should mean it will be no more expensive to install more efficient heating systems like heat pumps than it would to install a traditional gas boiler.

Which are cheapest – gas fires, electric heaters or wood burners? 

If you’re looking to up the heat in certain rooms, you can find low-cost electric heaters and they don’t require any installation – all you need is somewhere to plug them in. Electric fireplaces also tend to be cheaper to buy and install than their gas counterparts. Gas fires can be pricey to fit, and wood burners even more so.

Electric fires are also more efficient, converting 100% of the energy used into heat. But your electric heater or fireplace will cost more than the gas fire to run, since electricity costs around three times as much as gas. Electric fireplaces also do not produce as much as heat.

It’s hard to deny that there’s a certain charm associated with a wood-burning stove, but they typically only offer up to 80% efficiency. Given the current high prices of electricity and gas, it may be relatively cheaper to run a wood-burning stove, but then there’s the issue of pollution to consider.

In the UK, wood-burning stoves are responsible for producing a greater proportion of fine particulate pollution than all road traffic, and this can have a serious impact on your family’s and neighbours’ health.

Electric or gas ovens – which are cheapest to run?

Although electric ovens are typically cheaper to install, they’re likely to cost you twice as much to run because of the higher costs of electricity. That’s true even when factoring in that electric ovens are more efficient than gas ovens.

People tend to have a clear preference for cooking with gas vs electric depending on what they’re used to. On the one hand, many people prefer cooking with gas because they can change the temperature instantly and precisely. On the other hand, electric ovens provide consistent temperatures once they’ve warmed up.

Given the costs of switching, it’s likely you’ll want to stick with the oven you’ve got until that’s not an option anymore. If you are in the market for a new oven, it’s also worth considering that electric ovens are safer, and are easier to clean and maintain.

Top tips for cheaper energy bills 

Whether you use gas, electric or both, there are a number of ways you can cut down on your energy use and lower your energy bills:

  • According to the Energy Savings Trust, washing at 30 degrees instead of 40 and running one fewer washes per week, you could save £29 a year.
  • Turn off appliances instead of leaving them on standby. This could save you up to £55 a year.
  • If you and your family can stick to a four-minute shower, this could save the typical household £70 per year. You can also fit an energy-efficient shower head to increase your savings.
  • Use your oven more efficiently. Simple changes can save you money, including using the fan-assisted setting and keeping the oven door closed during cooking. Batch-cooking and freezing dishes for later can also save you time and money.
  • Turn down your thermostat. Just one degree lower could potentially save you money.
  • Use a smart thermostat to control your heating.
  • Turn off lights in rooms you’re not using. This could save you up to £25 a year, according to the Energy Savings Trust.
  • Draught-proof your home. Installing insulation and draught-proofing can help you reduce heat loss from your home, increasing your energy efficiency and saving up to £95 on your heating bills.
  • Understand your energy bill so you can see what you’re spending – it also contains important information you’ll need if you want to switch to a cheaper tariff.

Can a smart meter help me save on my gas and electricity bills?

Smart meters are available for both gas and electricity. The meter can send you information via an in-home display to show you exactly how much energy each appliance uses.

Using a smart meter can help you monitor your energy usage and will automatically send meter readings to your supplier – so you’ll get an accurate bill, not an estimated one.

If you monitor it carefully, a smart meter could help you reduce your energy consumption, which means cheaper energy bills.

Frequently asked questions

What is greener and cleaner, gas or electric heating?

According to a government report, electric heating appliances produce no direct greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, gas is a fossil fuel that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when it’s heated.

Most CO2 emissions from our homes currently come from gas heating. That said, electricity can contribute to CO2 emissions. 

The government has set a target for 100% of our electricity to be generated with zero carbon emissions by 2035. By 2020, 43% of our power came from renewable energy sources like solar, wind, bioenergy and hydroelectric sources.

What are greener alternatives to a gas and electric heating?

As part of its plan to drive down the cost of clean heat, the government is committed to finding affordable, low-carbon alternatives people can use to heat their homes.

Renewable alternatives currently available include:

  • Heat pumps – heat is taken from the air outside or from the ground to warm up your home and hot water.
  • Biomass boilers – burn natural materials to produce electricity from cheap and plentiful renewable sources like wood and animal dung.
  • Solar panels – draw energy from the sun and turn it into electricity to power your home or heat your water.

See if you could get help to update your heating system to a low-carbon alternative from the government’s boiler upgrade scheme.

Are greener alternatives more expensive?

Typically, the installation costs of green heating systems are more expensive than a gas or electric boiler. But as well as their environmental benefits, the running costs could eventually work out cheaper than gas or electricity. 

There are also a couple of government schemes and grants available to incentivise householders to move to renewable energy:

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