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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 a gas oven or an electric one? 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 a gas oven or an electric one? If you’ve always wondered which is more cost-effective, read on. 

Sofia Hutson
Utilities expert
6
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Last Updated 21 JANUARY 2022

Is gas cheaper than electricity?

A unit of gas costs, on average, 4p/kWh (kilowatt hour) - while electricity costs 16p/kWh. That makes electricity four times the price of gas.

But, when it comes to heating your home, there are other factors to consider. For instance:  

  • Gas boilers are more expensive 
    Gas boilers cost more to repair and maintain than their electric equivalents. 
  •  Gas boilers aren’t totally efficient  
    Even the newest gas boiler won’t offer the same efficiency that a modern electric boiler could.
  • Your house may not have a gas supply 
    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 is likely to cost you in the region of £3,500 to £5,000.

Electric night storage heaters don’t involve pipes or flues, so cost a lot less to install. 

Gas central heating vs electric radiators – which are cheapest to run?

Gas radiators are cheaper to run than electric radiators, but gas central heating tends to be more expensive to install.

Gas accounts for around 85% of home heating in the UK. 

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. 

Did you know?
In the next decade, the government plans to replace fossil fuel boilers with low-carbon heating systems. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme will offer households a £5,000 grant to replace their old boilers with cleaner, more efficient low-carbon heating systems. 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. It’s anticipated that these cleaner heat systems will be smaller, easier to install and potentially cheaper to run.

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

Electric heaters tend to be the cheapest of these to install. Gas fires can be pricey to fit, and wood burners even more so. 

But your electric heater will cost more than the gas fire to run, since gas is far more fuel-efficient than electricity. Your wood burner will probably be the most expensive of the three to run – you could easily get through a £5 bag of logs in a weekend. 

Some people feel there’s a certain charm associated with a wood-burning stove, but electric heaters have other benefits. They’re easy to install and clean, and often they’re portable.

Gas vs electric ovens – which are cheapest to run?  

Because of the higher costs of electricity, electric ovens are likely to cost you more to run.  

However, electric appliances are more efficient than they used to be, and cost isn’t the only factor to think about. You might also want to consider which is safer, and which you prefer cooking on. Electric hobs tend to have a smoother surface for cooking on, and often they’re easier to clean.

How to use your oven more efficiently 

One way to try and cut your energy bills is to get clever with how you cook: 

  •  Use fan-assisted cooking if possible – this allows you to cook at a lower heat 
  • Try to cook several things at the same time 
  • Don’t open the oven door during cooking 
  • Batch-cook and freeze dishes for later 

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: 

  • Do one less wash a week
  • Turn off appliances instead of leaving them on standby
  • Fit an energy-efficient shower head
  • Spend one minute less in your shower.
  • 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.
  • Replace traditional bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs.
  • Draught proof your home
  • 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

Compare and save 

One of the easiest ways to see if you could make savings on your energy bills is by comparing quotes with Compare the Market. Just give us a few details about yourself, and we’ll do the rest.

Frequently asked questions

What is greener and cleaner, gas or electric heating?

According to a government report in 2018, electric heating appliances produce no direct greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, gas is a fossil fuel which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when it’s heated. In fact, the majority of CO2 emissions from our homes come from gas heating. 

That said, electricity can contribute to CO2 emissions. That’s because we use around 40% of gas to generate electricity . The only truly greener alternative is to switch to renewable energy sources like solar, wind and heat pumps to generate our electricity for a carbon-free and cleaner future.

Did you know?
As part of a government plan to decarbonise heating and meet the 2050 Net Zero carbon emissions target, new homes won’t be allowed to have gas boilers installed from 2025.

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 to traditional heating systems and ways for people to heat their homes using systems from renewable sources including the sun, air, ground and even animal dung.

Renewable alternatives 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.

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 number of government schemes and grants to help householders with costs of moving to renewable energy. For example: 

  • The Smart Export Guarantee – pays households to export their unused renewable energy back to the National Grid – for example, solar, wind or hydro.
  • Boiler Upgrade Scheme  – from spring 2022, households can receive a £5,000 government grant  to replace their gas boilers with greener heat pumps.
  • Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive – quarterly payments over seven years for people who have renewable heating technology, for example, biomass boilers, biomass pellet stoves and heat pumps.

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

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