In Today's Market, Is Gas Heating Cheaper to Run than Electric?

Ok so I know this could be a bit of a can of worms in terms of the responses that could come back but with winter coming, I am curious to know whether gas or electric heating is the most economical in the current climate.

Trying to keep it simple………in that in a room that I am trying to heat I have a Braemar Ecostar wall mounted gas unit that is 10 years old. At the time of buying it had 4.5 (out of 5) star efficiency and so was considered at the time to be a highly efficient unit. In the same room I also have a Panasonic 7.1Kw split system that was only installed this summer so one would assume is more energy efficient when it comes to heating.

Question is, in today's world is gas generally cheaper than electricity to heat a room when you already have the units installed?

I typically shop around every 12 - 18 months in order to ensure that I am getting the best deal for gas and electricity I can so hopefully that helps to show that the rates I am paying are generally competitive.

Any info would be great.

Cheers

Comments

  • Needs a poll, but Electric all the way and get rid of gas full stop.

    • I would love to be able to do that but it will cost too much money as we have ducted heating upstairs to all bedrooms. It would be great to do away with that service charge that you pay for pretty much nothing but in this house it won't work.

      In the next house though I would like to specifically aim for a single fuel source with that being electricity with decent solar up top.

  • The price of gas has increased heaps - originally before Australia figured out how to export it overseas and shift it from East Coast to West it was cheap as chips.

    Environmentally gas not great either. Where as electricity is starting to improve with use of renewable - plenty to improve though.

    The reverse cycle will be more efficient for sure.

    Best to consolidate on electricity and get rid of the gas supply charge too.

    • No gas is shifted from the East Coast to the West in fact the East coast draws gas from the NT and SA but not WA as they are not even connected.
      The locations of gas fields and pipelines in Australia means there are three distinct gas regions: the East Coast which includes Queensland, NSW, the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia; the Western region which includes Western Australia; and the northern region which includes the Northern Territory. All three regions sell gas to domestic and international customers. The East Coast gas region is an interconnected market with pipelines joining the five States and the ACT. The recently completed Northern Gas Pipeline has now also joined the Northern region to the East Coast market near Mount Isa.

      • The main change was the development of export terminals in QLD and export of the previously domestic only gas supply particularly from Bass straight. Essentially the large gas exporters found it cheaper and easier to buy cheap gas from down south than to develop new fields in QLD and NSW (particularly with the controversy around CSG).

    • Thanks for the info. Everything everyone has said pretty much leads to the same thing. Electricity is cheaper to run when you have a decent, modern split system.

  • Also if you have solar, that also offsets your electricity cost.

  • You can find out kW/h costs for the electric, and MJ/h for the gas heater. Have a look at your bills and multiply by the cost per unit to obtain an hourly running cost for each and Bob's your uncle.

    I think you'll find gas would be cheaper - but obviously without knowing what you pay for gas and electricity - you'll have to do that calculation yourself. Would be a different story if you were paying for a brand new installation, but that cost is sunk.

    You might find the following link useful: https://www.finder.com.au/winter-heating-costs Although I still think it would be worthwhile to do some back of the envelope calculations yourself.

  • It’s cheaper for me to use the split aircons than the ducted gas, might be different if I could control the gas per room.

  • Oil Economy similar to gas ..More people use it ..more they are at loss in longer run.
    Get solar installed and get rid of gas stuff altogether.
    You will eventually end up paying for those things with you savings.

  • This may not compare to your scenario, but here is what I have:

    I live in Orange, NSW so we have cold winters and usually have the heating on solidly for about 3 months and intermittently for another 6 weeks or so and someone is home all day, so usage is high.

    I had whole house ducted Gas heating. System was 16 years old and of average efficiency. I also have a gas cooktop and water heating. Winter bills were about $1300 per quarter.

    Late 2019 I replaced the gas heater with reverse cycle A/C.

    My electricity bill increased by about $500 for the winter quarter, but the gas bill dropped by about $1000 for roughly the same period.

    It's a little hard to compare as the gas and electricity quarters differ but I estimate I will save at least $1000 per year on heating. (On the other hand, my summer power bills will escalate as I can now cool the house in the hotter months).

    Now just have to install solar to help offset the electricity.

  • Gas is a little cheaper than electric heaters that use power directly (fan heaters, bar heaters, column heaters) for the same amount of warmth produced.
    Reverse cycle aircon doesn’t produce warmth directly, instead shifts the cold away/warm in. And modern systems can shift a kW of warm in for much less than a kilowatt of electricty.
    Your Panasonic probably provides 5kw of warmth for each kilowatt of power (called the COP, or coefficient of performance).

    The outcome is your RC aircon is likely half the cost to run for equal warmth.

  • Hell no. Connection bill alone kills it. Just instant heat or gas top only. Unless you have more things connected to gas I can't see the connection bill worth it

    • Hell no to what? OP is asking for a comparison…

      I'd say it's safe to assume that most houses with gas heating would also use gas for hot water and potentially stovetop. So avoiding the connection charge is not possible.

      • Indeed. The house we live in had all that when we moved in. I toyed with the idea to change away to go with a single source but it just wasn't viable.

  • 50% discount on gas supply charges, none for electric (WA). Power bill is $450, gas bill $99 I'll go for gas

    • Except that a reverse cycle split system will produce around 5x as much heat per joule as a gas system. So unless the price (per joule) of gas is 1/5th of that of electricity its cheaper to use the AC.

  • 'In Today's Market, Is Gas Heating Cheaper to Run than Electric?'

    You need a poll.

    Yes, is my response.

  • The most cost-effective way would be to generate electricity using an engine running on gas, then run your reverse cycle air-conditioning on it. This would get you more heat than burning the gas directly.

    Large commercial places take this a step further by using the waste heat from the engine to heat building, then they either use the electricity themselves or sell it back to the grid.

  • Solar (no battery) with air con and cutting your gas supply completely is the cheapest option in the long run today's market. Depending on how long you expect your solar system to last/how much you spend on your initial capital you can get ROI in 3-5 years.

  • 1 Watt = 1 Joule per second

    1 kWh = 1000 watts for 60 minutes * 60 seconds
    1 kWh = 1000 watts for 3600 seconds
    1 kWh = 3600000 watt seconds = 3600000 joules
    1 kWh = 3.6 MJ

    Gas price is around 2.5c/MJ
    Electricity is around 20c/kWh

    This gives price ratio of 12.5%

    Regular electric and gas heaters are almost 100% efficient in converting energy to heat (a little bit goes to light) so for a regular heater if the gas price is 1/3.6 = 28% or lower of the price of electricity its worth using gas rather than electric. 12.5%<28% so gas is better.

    However a reverse cycle AC uses heat pump technology to achieve a higher efficiency than a regular gas or electric heat. This is often around 5x. Meaning 1kwh of electricity produces 18MJ of heat.

    So therefor the calculation for a reverse cycle heater is actually 1/18= 6%. This means unless the cost of gas is 6% of the cost of electricity its not worth using. 12.5%>6% so AC is better. This is also before you take into account the health and environmental risks from buying fossil fuels inside your house.

    Reverse cycle AC all the way!

    • Actually for OPs exact situation if they purchased this Panasonic 7.1 the COP is only 3.79 so the calculation would be.

      1kWh input = 3.6x3.79MJ = 13.64MJ heat output
      1/13.64 = 7.3% which is still better than using gas which costs ~12.5% of electricity.

  • hell no, that 7.1kw split can easily keep half of your house warm, unless you have the ducted heating to compare, the split win easily.

  • We had a slight cold snap in Melbourne over the weekend and I decided to use the split (which is in the lounge) over the wall furnace.

    I have to say that the ability to heat the whole room and pretty much keep it constant was much better than the furnace ever has been.

    That alone got the tick of approval from the wife.