With the soaring power costs, the simple act of turning on your heater can trigger mini anxiety attacks.
It’s a conundrum: gas heater owners are worried about the rising oil prices due to the conflict in Ukraine, while those using electrical heaters are likely to get a shock at the end of June as the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) lifted its standard electricity rate.
Recent datasuggests that the situation will last until 2027, so many homeowners are looking for ways to save on household expenses, including home heating.
Really Simple Money developed this quick guide to gas and electric heaters so you can choose the best one for your home.
Gas vs electric heaters: cost
Gas heating systems are cheaper to run, while electric heating systems are cheaper to install.
However, there are a few considerations to this comparison such as the type of space you are heating, whether the gas heater is flued or unflued, or the type of fuel you are using.
There are several things to remember that may make a gas heater costlier to run. You must take into account the following:
- Your heating requirements – an electric heater is usually more suitable for a smaller home
- Energy cost in your state – check the gas prices and electricity rates in your state
- Logistics – If you choose a gas heating system that uses bottled gas, you should factor in the cost of delivery
- Available alternatives – If you are using solar, then it will significantly affect your bills, potentially making electrical heaters a more affordable option.
Below is a price list of similar-sized portable heaters that you can use to compare the cost of electric and gas heaters. Take note that these are unflued heaters that don’t require installation.
Portable electric heater prices recommended retail prices
- Dimplex 1.5KW Mini Cube Portable Electric Fire Heater MINICUBE-B $164
- Nobo 1000W Panel Heater NTL4S10-FS40 $405
- Dimplex Oakhurst Electric Fire Heater $999
- Dimplex Pemberley Wall-Mounted Heater $1,189
Portable gas heater prices recommended retail prices
- Gasmate HWS0012 Portable Hot Water System $259
- Rinnai Cosyglow Unflued Natural Gas Radiant Heater 650SN
- Bromic Stratos Brahma Gas Heater $1, 859
- Planika Outdoor Gas Fire Pit $6, 599
Source: Appliances Online (June 2022)
Gas vs electric heaters: efficiency
In general, a gas heater is considered more energy-efficient than electric heaters based on cost per energy unit and heat output.
Compared to electricity, gas can convert a higher percentage of energy to heat, so you can warm up a room faster.
But take note that this is based on the idea that you are comparing efficiency according to sourcing power from the mains and coal-fired source. If you are generating electricity from an alternative source such as solar, then an electric heater is more energy efficient to operate.
It’s best to check your heater’s en energy efficiency rating. For instance, if your gas heater has an average of 5.8, it means that the system can convert 90% of its power output to heat.
Do the following to make sure that you are getting an power efficient heater:
- Select a heater with a good energy star rating
- Choose the right size of heater for the size of the room you want to warm
- Pick a heater with multiple controls, which will allow you to adjust the heat output
- Regularly check your heater as older models tend to be less power efficient
Benefits and Downsides of Gas and Electric Heaters
Gas and electric heaters each have their pros and cons. To help you decide which one is suitable for you, we have laid out the most important merits and demerits for each option.
Gas Heater Pros
- More affordable to operate
- More energy efficient
- Ideal for large homes
- Don’t require electricity
Gas Heater Cons
- Higher upfront cost
- Requires separate purchase of gas (depends on the type of heater)
- Requires proper ventilation
- May cause air pollution
- May require installation
Electric Heater Pros
- Lower upfront cost
- More affordable to run if you are using solar power
- Plug and play
- No need for ventilation
- Generally safe and easy to use
Electric Heater Cons
- More expensive to operate
- Can heat small homes
- Less power efficient
- Down without electricity
- Requires more time to heat spaces
What are the alternatives?
Many homeowners are now using other alternative ways for home heating. Reverse cycle air conditioners are becoming popular because the appliance can warm your space in winter while cooling down in summer.
Also, many homeowners are investing in solar thermal panels, which can be combined with electrical heaters.
And let’s not forget that modern heat pumps can provide heating solutions and can even reduce energy costs if properly installed and used.
So, which is the best option for your home?
Whether you are looking into gas, electric, or an alternative system, your choice should be based on three factors: your energy source, your location, and the space you need to heat.
If your home is a bit big, you rely on the mains electricity, and you are living in an area with freezing temperatures most of the year, then a gas heater might be the ideal choice.
If your home is small, you have access to alternative energy such as solar, and you live in an area that is warm most of the year then an electric heater could be best.