Which is cheaper? Gas or electric heat?

Although most of us are still struggling to stay cool in the hot August temperatures, the fast approaching beginning of the school year tells us those cooler fall days we’ve all been longing for are just around the corner.

Fall and spring are great times to try and save money by not running your air conditioner or heater, but unfortunately, we aren’t able to make those sixty and seventy degree temperatures last all year long. Soon we’ll be getting big utility bills for heating our homes to combat winter frostbite. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still try to save money. If you’ve been wondering whether gas or electric is cheaper for heating your home, here are some things to consider.

The Cost of Fuel

The cost of natural gas compared to electricity has some people confused about which option is really cheaper. Some may be convinced that gas is the cheaper alternative, while others think that electricity is the cheaper option. But what do the numbers say?

Information from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs about last winter’s projected home heating costs shows lower costs were expected for electric heating rather than natural gas. This is opposite of what some people were expecting based off of past trends.

Fluctuating fuel costs can make it difficult to predict a long-term winner when it comes to fuel costs for heating your home. But to say electric is the cheaper choice after looking only at fuel costs for last year could be an error when there are other factors to consider as well.

Equipment Costs

Gas furnaces last approximately 15 to 18 years, according to Consumer Reports, and the average cost for gas furnace systems is around $3,000. However, this does not include installation costs, so doubling this figure is probably not unreasonable, especially if you don’t shop around for a good deal on equipment and labor. Often people are in a hurry when the replace their home heating systems, so they are willing to pay a higher price to have a warm home.

In comparison, the life of an electric furnace is around 20 to 30 years and the equipment costs around $500. The installation for an electric furnace also tends to be quicker, resulting in a savings in installation costs as well. However, keep in mind the price for each system can vary greatly according to manufacturer and size of the unit needed for your home’s square footage.

Repair and Maintenance Costs

Once your heating system has been humming along for a few years, it may need maintenance or repairs. The average repair bill for a heating system is around $300, but it could be as low as $50 or as high as $800 or more, depending on the condition of your system.

But that isn’t the only thing to consider. Whether or not you are able to get service on your furnace should also be a consideration before you make a decision on what to buy. Consumers often overlook this part of the equation, only to have regrets later when they either can’t get parts or can’t find anyone to fix things when there’s a problem.

So which is cheaper for heating your home when it comes to gas vs. electric? In general, the answer is probably electric, but you still have to consider your individual situation and the factors listed above.

Can you think of other factors can affect whether gas or electric is the cheaper choice for heating your home?

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One Comment

  1. I use electric for heating our home as it is convenient, but when it comes to cost, I think using gas is cheaper. That said, I’d still go for electric.