Explore Energy

Most of us pay hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars every year for our energy use, whether it’s only electricity or a mix of electricity and gas. As such, any savings we can make are valuable!

So, between gas and electricity, which is cheaper and what’s better for the environment?

We will cover answers to both these questions, and more.

Gas vs electricity: is one cheaper than the other?

Depends on what you’re powering! Heating has the potential to be cheaper through electric appliances nowadays (see below); however, others can be more efficient using gas (e.g. a stove). While electricity usage charges are typically more expensive, look at the efficiency of all your appliances to decide whether gas is cheaper or not.

That’s to say, while gas only makes up a part of your energy bill, it has cheaper usage (the price you pay for how much you consume) and supply charges (the cost to transport it to your home) than electricity. This means you could potentially save money by relying solely on gas for some household appliances.

However, gas can only be used to power a few appliances that can cost more to purchase than their electric counterparts; including:

Furthermore, consider that modern electrical appliances have become more energy efficient.2 Depending on the efficiency of all your appliances and your usage them, the cost efficiency of gas or electricity appliances will differ from household to household.

 


Even if gas is cheaper, it may wind up being more expensive than electricity if

your appliance guzzles energy.


 

What’s more powerful – gas or electricity?

Gas is less powerful than electricity. This means you need to consume more gas to reach the same output of electricity. It takes 3.6 megajoules (MJ) of gas to equal one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity.1

When working out which new appliance to buy for your home, doing a bit of maths could help you figure out which one uses more energy. Relax; we’re not going to ask you to do this. There are plenty appliance energy usage calculators out there that can help you.

Once you have a rough understanding of how much energy they use, it’s easier to work out (roughly) what would wind up costing more, given that gas charges are cheaper than electricity in Australia.

Is it cheaper to heat with gas or electric appliances?

Due to rising gas prices and modern electric heaters (like reverse cycle air-conditioners) becoming more energy-efficient,2 it might actually be cheaper to warm your home with an electric heater vs a gas heater. However, this will differ depending on which appliance you choose and where you live.

a woman oven shopping comparing gas vs electricity

Installation and running costs

Typically, gas appliances cost more to buy and install but have cheaper running costs than electrical ones. However, some modern electric appliances, like split-system heating, are actually more efficient and cheaper to run than most gas systems.

Different models and brands use varying amounts of power, so it pays to keep in mind the energy efficiency rating of the gas or electric appliance you have or plan on installing. The more efficient the device, the less power you’ll use, and the lower your energy bill will be. There are also ways to reduce your gas bill, such as periodically turning the gas system off, maintaining it and adjusting the thermostat. Likewise, there are ways you can save on your electricity bills, such as taking advantage of off-peak tariffs and controlled loads.

You will need to weigh up if gas is still cheaper to run in your household vs running purely electric appliances and whether it is worth a more expensive installation cost. Also, your home may not have access to gas if it isn’t available in your area.

Find out more about the energy consumption of everyday appliances.

Frequently asked questions

Is gas safe?

Gas power, just like electricity, is safe when used correctly and maintained, but there are risks that you should be aware of. Gas is flammable, meaning a leak can cause an explosion or fire if the gas comes into contact with a spark or flame. Some types of gas, including natural gas, can also force breathable air out, making it difficult to breathe over time if your gas system is leaking. It’s vital you take action if you smell a gas leak.

A chemical called mercaptan is added to gas fuels to make the odourless gas smell like rotten eggs. According to the Queensland Government, if you smell a gas leak, you should:

  • turn off the appliance
  • open windows to ventilate your home
  • contact your energy provider
  • in case of emergency (fire, explosion or uncontrollable gas leak) contact emergency services by dialling 0003

You should also ensure your gas appliances are properly maintained so that they operate smoothly and safely. Instructions should be laid out by the manufacturer when you purchase the product.

What if I have solar electricity – is gas still cheaper?

Solar power can be costly to set up; however, having solar power means the running costs of electricity could become cheaper in the long run. You may also be able to use any credits you get from your panels to pay the electricity bill, which could lower the amount you spend on energy in general.

You can also combine solar energy with a gas or electric booster for specific appliances, mostly water heating systems, that will kick in if there isn’t enough sunshine to power the heater.

Which is more environmentally friendly – gas or electricity from coal fired generation?

Gas is a fossil fuel; however, burning gas to generate energy generally produces lower emissions than burning coal.4 Electricity that is sourced from green renewables like wind, hydro and solar is cleaner than both gas and coal-fired power.

What is a seasonal gas rate?

A seasonal gas rate charges different amounts for gas usage depending on the season. For example, as gas is typically used for heating, the price you pay during the winter months will be set at a higher amount during ‘peak season’. You’ll typically be charged a smaller amount in the non-winter months, or ‘off-peak season’.

You may be charged for how much gas you use within a set period or at a fixed rate for ‘peak season’ and ‘off-peak season’. This type of gas tariff is common in Victoria.

Compare electricity and gas plans with ease

Different plans will affect the cost of both electricity and gas considerably. As such, it pays to compare different options from a variety of brands.

Comparing quotes for electricity and gas could help lower your energy bills, and we’re here to make the process simple. Use our free energy comparison service to compare plans from a number of providers by tariff type, usage and supply charges, and more.

Sources

1NSW Government – Department of Primary Industries (2016). Comparing running costs of diesel, LPG and electrical pumpsets. Accessed 14 May 2021.
2Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (2019). East coast gas prices need to follow export prices down. Accessed 20 April 2021.
3Queensland Government (2018). Using natural gas and LPG safely. Accessed 20 April 2021.
4Met Group (2021). Natural Gas vs Coal – Environmental Impacts. Accessed 15 June 2021.

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