Ovens compared (cost per year for just baking, no burners)
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Natural Gas vs. Electric appliances
Last update: February 2015
Gas is almost always cheaper than electricity.
Your situation might be different depending upon local and
current prices, though. To do an accurate comparison,
you'll need to check your bills to find the rates for electric
and gas that you're paying to your particular providers.
There's no way around this; you can't get meaningful results if
you skip that step.
Also, if you don't already
have gas service, then signing up for it means that you'll pay
~$12/mo. or so to the gas company for the privilege of being
their customer. You're also looking at the cost
of having the gas lines run if your home doesn't already have
them. These things can quickly erase the savings of gas
appliances over electric in many to most situations.
While gas is generally
cheaper, it does have a couple of downsides.
With gas your house is more
likely to explode. And the byproducts of gas
combustion from ovens and heating are unhealthy to breathe,
and can actually kill pet birds. For these reasons, I
use electric instead of gas in my own home. Of course,
my energy use is so small that the extra cost of electricity
is minimal for me. Likewise, I hope to help my readers
reduce their energy consumption so that the difference between
electric and gas costs for them is insignificant.
I don't have comparison tables for electric vs. gas
heat specifically yet, but I do have quite a bit of info about saving
energy on heating.
from DoE. Divide price by 10 to get price per therm or per
Cost of Natural Gas
Natural gas prices are all over the map, literaly.
First of all, prices vary greatly by region. The price in
Florida is double the price in California. Prices have
also jumped wildly in short periods of time. The average
U.S. price doubled from 2005 to 2008, and then fell by half from
2008 to 2011. (The chart at right shows prices for the
last few decades.) Still, even when gas prices are at
their highest, it's generally cheaper to run appliances on
natural gas instead of electricity.
The national average price of residential gas was $1.29/Ccf
in 2014. (source)
(Ccf and therms are roughly the same, more on this later.)
But average prices are useless for calculating your own costs
and savings potential since costs vary widely by area and
because they can change quickly. That goes for
state-by-state averages too, because the price from your own
provider likely differs at least somewhat from the state
On this site I have to use something for calculations
and defaults, so I often use $1.30/therm or Ccf, which is close
to the 2014 average.
Natural gas is measured in Ccf or therms. For
calculation purposes, they're essentially the same (1 ccf = 1
therm). There's no direct conversion because ccf
measures the volume of gas, while therms measures the energy
in the gas, and the amount of energy varies by the quality of
gas. It's like trying to state how many calories are in
a loaf of bread—it depends on the bread. In the U.S. in
2013, the average was 1 therm = 1.025 ccf. (source)
That's so close that for most purposes, therms and ccf are
essentially interchangeable. Based on the above:
Ccf = hundred cubic feet. The "C" is roman
for one hundred. Ccf ÷ 1.025 = therms.
Mcf = thousand cubic feet. The "M" is roman
for one thousand, not an abbreviation for million. Mcf
÷ 10 = Ccf. Mcf ÷ 10.25 = therms.
Btu = British thermal unit. Btus x 100,000 =
Some gas bills measure the gas in cubic meters instead of
therms. One therm is 2.75 cubic meters, and 1 cubic
meter is 0.36 therms.
Cost of Electricity
The average cost of residential electricity was 13¢/kWh
in the U.S. in 2014, though as I explain elsewhere, average
rates are all but useless for figuring how much you pay
for electricity. The average U.S. household used 909
kWh/mo. in 2013 and would pay $118.17 for it at the 13¢/kWh
average rate. (Dept.
of Energy) Like gas,
the cost of electricity varies by location. Don't assume the
state rates are accurate for you, because rates vary even within
Comparing the operating cost of electric vs. gas appliances
Above I provide calculators for comparing the cost of
gas and electric appliances. For those who prefer to
crunch the numbers themselves, here's what you'll need to know:
The price of electricity in kWh.
The amount of electricity used in kWh.
The price of gas in therms.
The amount of gas used in therms.
#1 and #3 are easy to find, just look at your bill. For
electricity, make sure you add all the kWh costs for
electricity, since some utility companies have separate
charges for delivery and fuel. (More on
#4 is usually the hardest, because the amount of gas used by
appliances for a given task or amount of time is usually not
so easy to find. But I'll make it easy by listing those
figures for you now, and throw in the electric version for
comparison, in the table at right.
Gas used by the pilot light
gas used by pilot lights is substantial. At
$1.40/therm, you're looking at $183/yr. to run the pilots in a
furnace and a water heater, not even counting a stove.
Pilots could easily account for over 70% of summer gas usage,
and 40% of total usage. (Murphy)
If your furnace has a pilot, turn it
off during the non-heating months. (You can't just blow it
out, because gas will still flow, and soon your house will blow
up.) For your stove, turn off the burner pilots and use a
click-lighter to light them. And the next time you replace
your appliances, get the ones that have electric ignition.
In the winter, the energy from the
pilot lights isn't wasted since it adds heat to your home.
But when you're not running a heater, then pilot lights are 100%
While Murphy's pilot
light article gives 3.3 therms/mo. for a water heater
pilot light, his water
heating page suggests 4.2 therms, as follows:
510 Btu per meter revolution, with ten revolutions in 11.2
hours. That's one revolution every 10÷11.2 = 0.893h.
At 30.4375 days in a month times 24 hours/d, that's 730.5
h/mo. So 730.5 h/mo. ÷ 0.893 h/rev = 818 revs/mo.
That's 818 revs./mo. x 510 Btu/rev = 417,180 Btu/mo..