Electric vs Gas Heating: What's the Best? (2023)

When the weather’s miserable outside, nothing beats a warm and cosy home. But a toasty home comes at a cost – especially as the bulk of most people’s energy bills goes on heating and hot water.

Heating’s also one of the areas where you can make the biggest savings on your home’s carbon footprint. So, it’s important to make sure your heating system isn’t just cheap to run, but energy-efficient too.

But does that mean you should go with gas or electricity? Is electric or gas heat cheaper? In this blog, we’ll explain the differences between heating with gas vs. electric. And weigh up the pros and cons of electric vs. gas heating, to help you decide which is best for your home.

Electric vs. gas heating: what’s the difference?

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth explaining the main differences between using gas, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), oil and electricity to heat your home.

Gas-based systems(and LPG or oil-based systems)usually rely on a boiler to burn the fuel and heat water. This water is then circulated through radiators or in pipes under the floor to heat the home. As the floors or radiators warm-up, they heat up the air in your rooms through what’s known as convection.

There’s more variety inelectric heating systems. While modern gas systems use a central boiler (hence the phrase ‘central heating’); electric systems traditionally rely on separate heating appliances in each room. This might be a simple plug-in fan or bar heater. Or a more sophisticated network of storage heaters that run on cheap off-peak electricity.

Pros and cons of electric heating

Advantages of electric heating

  • a large variety of products are available. From storage heaters to air-source heat pumps to small electric heaters
  • no carbon dioxide output
  • low maintenance costs, unlike boilers
  • modern electric systems have smart heating controls. Helpingyou manage your heating efficiently
  • if you've added a room or converted your loft. Air conditioning electric systems can heat a single room effectively
  • better home air quality
  • Energy tariffs likeEconomy 7andEconomy 10could help you pay less for your electricity – it will depend on when you use it

Disadvantages of electric heating

  • electricity unit prices are more expensive than gas
  • can be expensive to install like air-source heat pumps
  • older storage heaters manufactured before Jan 2018 are not as efficient
  • basic storage heater models can lead to overheated rooms and wasted energy
  • some older storage heater models contain asbestos. If you're concerned about this, you can visit AIC (Asbestos Information Centre).They have a list of storage heaters that contain asbestos


Pros and cons of gas heating

Advantages of gas heating

  • cheaper cost to run your heating
  • modern boilers are more energy efficient
  • easy to control your heating needs across your home, made even easier with a smart thermostat


Disadvantages of gas heating

  • gas boilers use fossil fuel, burning it for heat contributes to global warming and climate change
  • under the government’s current plans, there's a gas and oil boiler ban in newbuild homes only from 2025
  • boilers need regular maintenance. Generally on an annual basis from a Gas Safety engineer
  • upgrading your boiler to a newer model can be expensive
  • old and badly maintained systems can be dangerous and leak carbon monoxide

Which is better for the environment - electric or gas heating?

Cost isn’t the only deciding factor when considering your heating needs. There’s also the very important issue of the environmental impact.

Gas is a fossil fuel. So, burning it to generate heat releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. This is why heating is the biggest sourceof CO2from most homes. Thisoutweighs any other CO2-emitting activities, like driving or flying.

Reducing the impact of home heating on the environment

In fact, heating our homes is responsible for around 15% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions[2]. It’s why from2025new properties won’t be allowed to have gas boilers. And if we’re to help the UK reach its Net Zerocarbon emissions target by 2050, older properties will need to eventually switch to alternative ways of heating too.

Using electricity to heat your home can contribute to CO2 emissions too. Since we still use gas to generate about 40% of electricity. But the good news is that renewables – like solar and wind power – generated almost as much electricity as gas in 2019 - a record 37%. So, if you combine electric home heating with a zero carbon electricity tariff, you know that your heating will be carbon-free.

(Video) Gas vs Electric Water Heater (Which is Best?)

What about heat pumps and hybrid systems?

These newer home heating technologies work differently and can be very efficient too.

Air-source heat pumps

Air-source heat pumps(ASHP) and ground-source heat pumps (GSHP) get heat from the outside air or directly from the ground and transfer it into your home. Much like a fridge working in reverse. And because heat isbeing moved – not generated – this way, much less power is needed.

A heat pump system can also provide hot water. But because heat pump technology works best at lower temperatures, you often need a bigger hot water tank to get hot water from this type of system too.

Electric vs Gas Heating: What's the Best? (1)

Hybrid heating systems

Another option is ahybrid system. These combine the best of old and new technologies by pairing a heat pump with a conventional gas, LPG or oil boiler.

So the heat pump provides most of the heating and hot water.But when the temperature drops outside the boiler kicks in.

Read about air-source heat pumps

What about the installation and running costs of heat pumps?

The running costs of gas and electric heating are much closer when you look at a ground-source heat pump(GSHP) or air-source heat pump(ASHP) system.

A well-designed heat pump installation may have a coefficient of performance (CoP) of 3.5 or better. This sounds complicated, but what it simply means, is that for every unit of energy it uses, it produces 3.5 units of heat.

This makes it about four times more efficient than gas central heating! And, based on standard tariffs, on a par with running costs.

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Heat pumps are comparatively expensive to install. But the good news is that the government offer grants to help with the upfront installation costs, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme can offer up to £5,000 towards a heat pump.

Gas vs. electric boilers?

Did you know that if you’re replacing your old gas boiler, electric boilers are now an option? They work much like a kettle with the heating element inside warming up the water. And they’re also quick and easy to install – like electric heaters, there isn’t any pipework or gas work required to connect up the system.

Other electric heating systems that are low carbon and cheaper to run

  • Solar water heating systems These arealso known as solar thermal systems and theyuse the sun’s (free) energy to heat up yourwater.
  • Heat pumps. These use heat from the outdoor air to provide hot water. Read more about air source heat pumps.

Replace your boiler

Radiators, storage heaters or underfloor heating?

It's not just a case of considering the different ways to heat your home: from oil to gas and electricity. You also need to consider how you spread the heat around your home – whether you use radiators, storage heaters or underfloor heating.

Radiators

These come in all shapes and sizes. But what they all have in common is that they’re usually water-filled, metal panels connected to a central heating system. And you typically have one in each room you want to heat.

Storage heaters

These are a type of electric radiator. Storage heaters contain special types of bricks (made from materials, like clay) that store a lot of heat. They generate heat overnight when electricity is cheapest. And then gradually release this throughout the next day.

Gas or electric underfloor heating

Underfloor heating relies on a series of pipes, or electric heating elements (like that found in a kettle), placed under the entire floor of a room. In water-based systems, the heat comes from a range of sources – like a boiler or heat pump. In electric systems, the elements simply heat up when switched on.

Underfloor heating has the advantage of covering a huge surface area. So, it doesn’t need to get as hot but gives out an even, warm temperature. This makes underfloor heating a great match for heat pumps as these are better at providing low, consistent heat, rather than very hot temperatures.

Find a storage heater

Which heating type is cheaper - gas or electric?

Gas or electric heating system costs break down into two types of cost: the installation and running costs. So, let’s look at both, to compare electric heating vs. gas cost. Whether you live in a 2-bed flat or five-bedroom house.

Gas heating installation costs

The typical cost of installing a gas-fired central heating system – including a boiler, radiators, controls and pipes – can be anything from £3,000 to £4,500.

Electric heating installation costs

Low-cost electric heating is much cheaper, with basic electric heaters starting at less than £20 each. the cost of an electric heating system increases if you’re looking at putting modern-day storage heaters in. These cost around £400 each – and you’ll usually need one in each room.

(Video) Gas Boilers or Electric Heating - Which is Cheaper UK 2022

How much does electric heating cost to run?

On the face of it, the gas vs. electric heating cost is much cheaper. A single kilowatt-hour (kWh) unit of gas costs around 4.65p, whereas the average price for a kWh of electricity is more than 20p. This doesn’t mean that electric heating running costs are four times those of gas, however!

So, is electric or gas heat cheaper?

Using off-peak electricity, conventional electric heating may cost about twice as much[1] as gas heating to run.

And here’s why: electric heaters are essentially 100% efficient. In other words, all the electricity they use is turned into heat. The same isn’t true of a gas or oil-fired central heating system. Even an A-rated boiler wastes about 10% of the energy in its fuel. Some additional heat may be lost from the pipework. While a small amount of electricity is needed to run the boiler and its pumps.

How can you make your electric heating system more cost-effective?

Low-cost electric heating systems can often be timed to take advantage of off-peak tariffs too. An off-peak period is when the average cost for 1kWh of electricity is less than 10p.And you can buy smart controls to manage your home’s heating from your phone. So, you don’t even need to be in to turn it on or off or set up aschedule to heat your homefor when you return.

Making the switch from gas to electric heating

Whatever your current set-up – whether you’re using a combi, conventional or back boiler – you’ll need to remove the existing central heating system (boiler, pipes and radiators). But the good news is electric heaters are quick and easy to install. There aren’t any pipes or flues to connect, for a start. So, your system will be up and running in no time at all. And it has the additional benefit of being low carbon!

What’s best for you: electric orgas heating?

They each have their strengths. While simple electric heating is cheaper to install, it can be more expensive to run. Heat pump systems are much more efficient and can cost less to use – particularly on off-peak electricity – but they have higher installation costs.

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The environmental impact of your home heating is a big factor now too. It’s quite plausible that fossil fuel heating systems might be banned altogether to help the government meet its Net Zero targets by 2050. And this could pave the way for a new generation of efficient heat pump systems – powered by electricity from renewable and low-carbon sources – ultimately becoming the way we heat our homes in the future.

View heating options

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Sources:

[1] Gas price of 4.17p per kWh vs off-peak electricity at 9.76p (via Energy Saving Trust). Assuming gas efficiency of 90%, multiply unit cost by 1.11 to get 4.63p for a gas kWh – roughly half the price.

[2] It’s surprisingly hard to find a single authoritative figure. This 2012 report says that heat accounts for 32% of all greenhouse gases (table 1), and that domestic heating represents 48% of this (table 2), giving 15.4%. This is in the same ballpark, saying that (in 2014) households were responsible for 40% of UK emissions, of which heating represented 29%. This works out at 11.6% of the total, but electricity is rapidly getting far greener, which is inflating the heating figure over time (their prediction is that it will be 42% of domestic emissions by 2030).

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FAQs

Is it better to have electric heating or gas? ›

Electric heaters are generally safer than gas as they do not burn fuel to generate heat. This eliminates risks such as carbon monoxide emissions and explosions. There are no water-filled pipes, so there is less risk of damage to the property from leaking or burst pipework.

Is it cheaper to heat with electric or gas 2022? ›

Is electric heating cheaper than gas? No. When it comes to using energy, gas is typically cheaper than electricity. Looking at Ofgem's price cap rates, gas can cost up to 7p per kWh (going up to 15p in from October 1, 2022), and electricity up to 28p per kWh (also going up to 52p).

Is it worth changing from gas to electric heating? ›

Electric heating is better for the environment, easy to install, virtually maintenance-free and allows for individual programming, so you can adjust the temperature room by room depending on your needs. It is versatile, cost-effective and efficient, making it the ideal alternative to keeping your home warm.

What is the most efficient form of heating a house? ›

Furnace. In general, furnaces are the most efficient of the heating systems, especially if you have natural gas. They work by heating air with a component called a heat exchanger and pushing it into the home through a duct system, using a fan (often referred to as a blower).

What will replace gas boilers in 2025? ›

In 2025, gas boilers will be replaced by renewable heating systems in all new-build homes. This is part of a government effort to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

What is the cheapest way to heat a house? ›

Gas boiler

A gas boiler is still the cheapest way to heat your home – though that's set to change soon, with the cost of gas rising more than twice as quickly as electricity.

Should I fix my energy prices until 2023 UK? ›

You should only fix your energy prices until 2023 if you can source a cheaper fixed tariff than that of the October 2022 price cap increase.

Is it cheaper to heat your house with gas or electric? ›

Gas is generally a cheaper energy source than electricity. Operating costs for home appliances fueled by gas are typically less expensive than those which are powered by electricity.

Is electric heating the future? ›

Just like cars, the future of heating is going be electric! Electric heating systems such as electric boilers, electric radiators and electric underfloor heating already have some amazing benefits such as very fast heat up times and close to 100% efficiency at the point of use.

How much more expensive is electric heat vs gas? ›

Electric Heat vs Gas Heat Monthly Cost

In 2021, on average, it cost around $750 to heat a home with natural gas in winter and nearly $1.270 to heat with electricity.

Are electric radiators cheaper to run than gas? ›

High ongoing cost - A unit of electricity costs more than a unit of gas and, as electric radiators tend to take longer to heat up, you'll likely find having electric heating is more expensive than gas heating on a monthly basis, simply because you're using more of a energy source that is already higher in price.

Why don't we use electric boilers? ›

As electric boilers waste little energy, some may deem that they are more energy efficient. However, the work that goes into producing the electricity that fuels these boilers is carbon intensive and can thus ultimately cause more pollution than gas boilers.

Which type of heating is cheapest to run? ›

Infrared Heaters – the lowest wattage per heat provided makes these the cheapest to run.

What is the most efficient heating system for cold climates? ›

Ground source heat pumps (a.k.a. geothermal systems) have long represented the gold standard for zero-carbon heating systems in cold climates. These systems provide unparalleled efficiencies, maintenance savings, and expected lifetimes that make them a smart choice for forward-thinking homebuyers.

Is it cheaper to heat hot water with gas or electric? ›

Gas water heaters are cheaper to use than electric heaters because, on average, gas is cheaper than electricity. You'll spend more money using an electric heater than a gas heater. Gas water heaters also heat water faster than electric units and are helpful in a power outage.

Can I change my gas boiler to electric? ›

It is not at all difficult to replace your existing gas boiler with an electric boiler. The plumbing of heating and hot water is the same and can be adapted/fitted to the new electric boiler.

What happens when gas boilers are banned? ›

What will replace gas boilers in 2025? The ban means that gas boilers won't be installed in new homes, which will be designed to be heated differently from day one. But what it doesn't mean is that you'll be shut off from all gas in 2025. Millions of homes are heated by gas boilers, and will continue to be beyond 2025.

Is it still worth buying a gas boiler? ›

Absolutely. In fact, replacing an old gas boiler with a modern energy efficient model is a great way to cut your heating costs and reduce your carbon footprint.

Is it now cheaper to heat with electric? ›

Experts say that putting an electric, portable heater on over central heating will cost people more. An expert at energy contract comparison site Bionic says: 'Using an electric heater will cost about twice as much as using your central heating – but it can also depend on how much of your house you're choosing to heat.

What is the cheapest form of heating UK 2022? ›

The Top 10 Tips for Heating your Home in the cheapest way in 2022
  • Invest in a terracotta heater. ...
  • Consider your actions. ...
  • Add a shelf to the space just above your radiator. ...
  • Stop your chimney from causing draughts. ...
  • Check your radiators. ...
  • Inspect areas that may cause draughts. ...
  • Invest in rugs. ...
  • Add curtains to your rooms.
21 Feb 2022

What is the cheapest way to heat your home this winter? ›

Reverse-cycle air conditioning is the most cost-efficient ways to heat your home quickly, while portable electric heaters can be more expensive to run and take more time to heat up.

What does Martin Lewis say about fixing energy prices? ›

Jacob Rees-Mogg has confirmed people who fixed their energy prices at a higher rate will be able to swap to a state-subsidised tariff with no exit penalties, money saving expert Martin Lewis has told LBC.

Who is the cheapest energy supplier in UK 2022? ›

Cheapest energy providers: April 2022
SupplierMonthly cost
Cheapest SVTSquare1£151.50
Cheapest VariableUtility Warehouse£161.26
Cheapest FixedBritish Gas£219.82
Energy Price CapMost Providers£164.25
26 Mar 2022

What does Martin Lewis say about energy bills? ›

Martin Lewis has issued a stark warning to householders, saying there is no price cap and if you use more energy, you will pay more for it. The MoneySavingExpert founder put a message on Twitter to confirm there is no cap on how much you pay.

Will natural gas prices go up 2022? ›

Effective September 1, 2022, the procurement component of the core sales rate will decrease 0.546 ¢/therm to 96.994 ¢/therm. This decrease resulted from an overall 3.059 ¢/therm decrease in commodity price and a increase of 2.513 ¢/therm in account adjustments.

Why is electric heat so expensive? ›

Because of electricity generation and transmission losses, electric heat is often more expensive than heat produced in homes or businesses that use combustion appliances.

Why is electricity more expensive than gas? ›

For electricity, it's mainly the environmental taxes that make it more expensive, despite it being the more environmentally friendly option for customers to use. Since electricity uses renewable technology, such as wind and solar, those charges are applied to it instead of to gas.

How are new homes heated after 2025? ›

The government has announced that by 2025, all new homes will be banned from installing gas and oil boilers and will instead be heated by low-carbon alternatives.

What is the cheapest way to heat a house UK? ›

The cost of heating your home with gas (British Gas)

Gas is generally much the cheapest form of heating, but its cost depends on a number of factors, including your supplier, tariff and boiler.

What is the future for heating homes? ›

Starting in 2025, low-carbon heating systems will be installed in all new build homes as alternatives to gas boilers. It's anticipated that the systems in these new developments will include heat pumps, heat networks, hydrogen and direct electric heating.

Is it cheaper to heat your house with gas or electric? ›

Gas is generally a cheaper energy source than electricity. Operating costs for home appliances fueled by gas are typically less expensive than those which are powered by electricity.

Is it more expensive to heat with gas or electric? ›

Less expensive to operate: Almost everywhere in the country, natural gas is significantly cheaper than electricity. If you live in a cold climate and run your heater a lot during the winter, a gas furnace can save you money over the long run.

Which is cheaper to run gas or electric central heating? ›

So, is electric or gas heat cheaper? Using off-peak electricity, conventional electric heating may cost about twice as much as gas heating to run. And here's why: electric heaters are essentially 100% efficient.

Which is cheaper to run gas or electric? ›

Gas energy is much cheaper to run than electricity on a regular basis, but the overall costs of installation, maintenance and running expenses tend to favour electricity, with the average lifetime of products also outlasting that of gas.

Will natural gas prices go up 2022? ›

Effective September 1, 2022, the procurement component of the core sales rate will decrease 0.546 ¢/therm to 96.994 ¢/therm. This decrease resulted from an overall 3.059 ¢/therm decrease in commodity price and a increase of 2.513 ¢/therm in account adjustments.

Why is electric heat so expensive? ›

Because of electricity generation and transmission losses, electric heat is often more expensive than heat produced in homes or businesses that use combustion appliances.

Is it now cheaper to heat with electric? ›

Experts say that putting an electric, portable heater on over central heating will cost people more. An expert at energy contract comparison site Bionic says: 'Using an electric heater will cost about twice as much as using your central heating – but it can also depend on how much of your house you're choosing to heat.

Is it cheaper to heat one room with electric heater? ›

In a nutshell, it depends how much of your home you want to heat. Overall, for heating the same space, an electric heater costs more than twice as much as using central heating. However, electric radiators can be more cost effective if you're heating a small area of your house like one or two rooms.

Why is electricity more expensive than gas? ›

For electricity, it's mainly the environmental taxes that make it more expensive, despite it being the more environmentally friendly option for customers to use. Since electricity uses renewable technology, such as wind and solar, those charges are applied to it instead of to gas.

Is an all electric house more expensive? ›

Based on study findings, all-electric homes cost more upfront in comparison to gas homes. Electric homes in cold climates were also found to have higher ongoing utility costs.

Is electric heating the future? ›

Just like cars, the future of heating is going be electric! Electric heating systems such as electric boilers, electric radiators and electric underfloor heating already have some amazing benefits such as very fast heat up times and close to 100% efficiency at the point of use.

What is the cheapest way to heat a house UK? ›

The cost of heating your home with gas (British Gas)

Gas is generally much the cheapest form of heating, but its cost depends on a number of factors, including your supplier, tariff and boiler.

Is it cheaper to heat water with gas or electric immersion heater 2022? ›

It is more expensive to heat water using electricity than it is with gas. The majority of households will need to use an immersion heater for at least two hours per day to ensure the water is warm enough, which can tot up to significant heating bills.

Will electricity prices go up in 2022? ›

To help households with higher energy bills, the government announced some measures to partly help with the steep rise in March 2022, with further measures announced in May 2022: There will be a £400 credit on electricity bills this winter through 6 monthly instalments starting in October.

Should I fix my energy prices until 2023 UK? ›

You should only fix your energy prices until 2023 if you can source a cheaper fixed tariff than that of the October 2022 price cap increase.

How much does it cost to heat a house UK per day? ›

Heating trends show that household energy bills for two or three people in a three-bedroom house cost £53 in a cold week, or £8 per day. But they are higher on cold weekends as people have their boilers on during the day, meaning average daily energy costs will hit £10 this weekend and over the Easter school holidays.

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