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Is it Cheaper to Heat with Gas or Electric?

Home energy costs are tied to everything from heating your water and running the dishwasher to powering your lights and refrigerator, among other things. However, It is estimated that over half of all home energy costs are directly related to heating and cooling. Since heating your home can be such a costly endeavor during the winter months, and with energy costs continuing to rise, more homeowners are looking for ways to reduce consumption or find less expensive means to stay comfortable and warm.

If you’re in the market for a new furnace, or if you’re doing your homework so you’re prepared when you need to replace your current furnace, there are two heating types to consider – systems that run on gas and systems that run on electricity. Both are popular options, but it’s important to understand the differences between each one to determine the better choice for your needs and budget. 

Cost of Gas vs. Electricity

The first thing to consider is how the cost of gas and electricity compare, particularly in your area. As a general rule, natural gas tends to be more expensive than electricity, though this can vary widely depending on market conditions and where you live. Even though gas may cost more than electricity on a per-unit basis, it’s not wise to do a direct comparison. That’s because there are many other factors to take into account, including operating efficiency and installation cost. 

Installation Cost

If you’re starting from scratch and installing a brand-new heating system, you should know that a system that runs on gas tends to be quite a bit more expensive to install. However, you’ll want to look at the whole picture and whether or not and whether or not it might be worth it to pay a higher installation cost to achieve lower heating bills in the future.

The reason why a gas system is so much more expensive to install is because it requires the installation of a gas line, venting, and other components not required with an electric system. Electric heating systems, one the other hand, require less infrastructure so they are not only less expensive upfront, but they can also be installed much more quickly and easily. 

Maintenance Costs

In terms of maintenance costs, gas heating systems tend to be more expensive than electric systems. This is because gas systems require more frequent maintenance and repairs due to the additional infrastructure and components required for them to work properly. Electric systems, on the other hand, require less maintenance and repairs, which can save money in the long run.


A major difference between electric heat and gas heat is efficiency. For instance, although electricity is usually far cheaper than gas, it doesn’t heat as efficiently – meaning, you’ll have to use more energy to get the same amount of heat. On the other hand, gas heating systems are typically much more efficient. So, even though the price of gas is higher, you won’t need to use as much of it to create the same amount of heat, and therefore,  gas systems tend to be cheaper in the long run. 

Other Types of Heating

In addition to electric and gas heating systems, there are other types of heating systems available. These include geothermal systems, which use the energy of the earth to heat a home, as well as wood-burning systems, which utilize wood to create heat. Additionally, solar heating systems are becoming increasingly popular and can be used to provide a more eco-friendly and cost-effective heating solution.

Just as with electric and gas heating systems, these other types of heating options have their pros and cons. For instance, solar heating systems have a very high up-front cost and are weather dependent. Geothermal systems can only be installed in certain areas and require a certain type of skilled technician to install and maintain them. 

Gas or Electric: Which is Better?

If you already have the infrastructure to install a gas furnace, or don’t mind paying a bit more for installation, a gas furnace is usually the way to go. Gas heats faster and the higher cost of fuel will ultimately be offset by the increase in efficiency. 

However, not everyone wants to make the big upfront investment that a gas system requires. There are also safety concerns with a gas furnace as it has the potential to leak carbon monoxide. However, this risk is very low in a properly installed modern gas furnace because a carbon monoxide alarm will be installed to alert homeowners of any potential issues.  

If you’re still trying to choose between gas or electric, know that people choose one or the other for various reasons depending on their needs, budget, and what works best in the area in which they live. If you would like to discuss the pros and cons of each, give WM Buffington a call. We’re a professional HVAC company that has been serving residents in the Central Pennsylvania region for over 70 years. If you live in the area, we can explain your options and help you decide on the best heating system for you!  

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