More and more people are switching to using electricity instead of gas in their homes to do their part to help the environment.
However, one needs to wonder, does this make their homes more energy efficient?
Modern electric appliances make a home several times more energy efficient than one running on gas. When electrification is done correctly, a homeowner can enjoy the same comfort of a gas-powered home with cheaper long-term operating costs.
This article will discuss why some think gas, especially natural gas, is more efficient.
The most common home appliances will also be compared based on energy source and efficiency.
So, read the rest of this article to find out the details.
The two primary sources of energy for households are gas and electricity. Some argue that gas, including propane and natural gas, is more efficient than electricity.
But why do they think this? Well, there are a few reasons, which I’ll discuss below.
The main reason behind this is that the rates for gas are generally cheaper than electricity, as in two to three times more affordable depending on your state.
This might suggest that running gas-powered appliances at home is more energy efficient.
Also, most homes in the United States are already equipped to run on natural gas. Buying appliances that run on existing gas lines prevents homeowners from spending a lot of money to retrofit their homes to run on different electric devices.
Several sources also say that gas appliances are more efficient at their job – mainly space heating, air conditioning, water heating, and cooking.
They’re efficient because they usually deliver heat faster than their electrical counterparts.
Gas-powered heaters, like furnaces and boilers, can also provide higher temperatures than electric heaters.
This is convenient for those who want their hot shower quickly available during the morning rush.
It’s also advantageous for those who live somewhere with very cold temperatures and want to keep their homes cozy.
Other people also consider the whole process of transmission. Including extraction, processing, generation, and distribution, the entire supply chain of natural gas is about 90% efficient.
This means that about 8%-10% of the source energy is lost along the line before it reaches your home. It also takes less energy to extract natural gas.
A large chunk of source energy is lost when producing electricity, primarily during generation. Only 25%-27% of the electricity arrives, making it much less efficient than natural gas.
Three things consume the most energy in your average home:
- Temperature control
- Water heating
While some consider gas appliances more efficient, some modern electric appliances are three or even four times more efficient.
Here are your electric alternatives to various gas appliances:
Regarding temperature control, you must have separate equipment for heating and cooling when you’re running on gas: the furnace and an air conditioning unit.
A heat pump combines these functions into one unit, as it can heat and cool your home. This immediately eliminates the energy needed for an entirely different piece of equipment.
Also, because you are running a single appliance system, you only have to worry about one system’s installation and acquisition cost instead of two.
Electric heat pumps are also 2 to 4 times more energy-efficient than their gas-powered counterparts.
Other people may argue that heat pumps are only suitable for moderate climates. Some heat pumps need a backup furnace to work in colder climates.
However, newer heat pumps work very well in cold weather. In temperatures as low as 5°F (-15°C), these newer heat pumps can deliver 70%-80% of their rated heating capacity.
Heat pumps provide space heating, and the same technology is used to heat water. Heat pump water heaters can also be 2-4 times more energy efficient than a gas-burning heater.
Gas-powered water heaters are considered more efficient because they deliver hot water quickly. However, this comes at a price.
This is because it is normal for these heaters to have a pilot light constantly burning to be ready to heat water at any time.
These gas-powered water heaters are less energy efficient because fuel is constantly burned to keep this light on. Heat energy is also wasted as it is released into the air or environment, not just into the water.
Also, as previously mentioned, gas costs are much cheaper than electricity. However, with their energy efficiency, an electric heat pump water heater can run on less energy than their gas counterparts while still delivering the same heat.
Gas stoves use an open flame to heat your pots and pans for cooking. The gas stove’s flames heat your cookware directly. Still, heat energy is wasted as it is released into your kitchen environment instead.
You have two choices when going electric: a conventional electric stove or an induction cooktop.
A conventional electric stove uses coils or a heating element to heat your cookware. It takes longer to heat coils which will then heat your cookware, resulting in the use of more electricity.
Some heat energy is also wasted as it warms up the air surrounding the stove.
Induction cooktops are powered by electricity and don’t use heat to heat your cookware.
Instead, it uses magnetic induction to heat the cookware itself. You can place your hand on the heating hob without getting burned. It’s almost completely cold.
Therefore, no wasted heat is released into your kitchen, and energy is spent entirely on cooking your food. Induction stoves are around 5%-10% more energy efficient than conventional electric stoves.
Depending on the model, they are also about three times more efficient than gas stoves.
The learning curve can be steep for those unfamiliar with induction stoves, so you might want to try a smaller one before going all out with a four-hob cooktop.
If you want to read more about induction cooktops, the Electric Power Research Institute has published a paper that discusses this technology, its comparisons with other cooktops, and the benefits of induction cooktops.
Electric appliances, especially smart ones, offer more features and are much easier to manage than their gas-powered counterparts.
Electric appliances offer more control and can be turned on on-demand, on a chosen schedule, have timers to shut off if a device has stayed idle for too long, and systems offer much more precision. Less energy is wasted.
It’s now easy to install solar panels with batteries that can store energy in your home. This way, your home can still run during a blackout. Home wind turbines are also available commercially.
The use of renewable energy makes your home more energy-efficient when you take into account the whole process of generating electricity.
Many types of renewable energy are 100% efficient, as power isn’t lost or wasted during generation or transmission. With your own source of electricity, you also save on your utility bill, making your home more cost-effective.
With technology constantly progressing, natural gas appliances are also becoming more and more energy-efficient.
However, as people get more concerned about eco-friendliness and doing their part to help ease climate change, consumers are turning to more appliances that run on cleaner, greener electricity.
With this in mind, electric appliances may take priority when it comes to continuing to improve their energy efficiency.
Yes, natural gas is cheaper than electricity. Still, all-electric homes can win out with lower operating costs because of their efficiency.
However, natural gas can still be efficient for space heating and temperature control if the ducting is good quality and your home is well-insulated.
Also, if your home currently runs on natural gas lines, the savings you may get from lower operating costs may pale in the face of retrofitting your home.
Appropriate research is needed to see what work needs to be done to switch to electricity from natural gas. It may turn out that sticking with current gas lines and appliances will be more cost-effective in some instances.
When electrification is done right, all-electric homes are very energy efficient.
Electric appliances can be several times more energy-efficient and cost-effective than gas-powered ones.
Homes can also run on 100% efficient renewable energy, further enhancing their appeal.
For more information about all-electric homes, including a rundown of the pros and cons, check out our article here.