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Most of us don’t have the luxury of building our own homes which would enable us to specify what fuel sources are used to power it and its appliances. Instead, we must roll with what we have and only change things up when forced to. The debate of gas vs electric appliances is nothing new. But once it’s time to replace an appliance, it’s one you’ll need to settle in your own mind, appliance by appliance.
You’ll certainly need to consider:
If you are concerned about energy and the environment, you’ll also want to know more about the state of the US electrical grid and whether going all-electric is going to be a problem.
And then there are safety considerations. And we’re not just talking about fire or smoke hazards that can happen during cooking.
Recent reports about health dangers posed by gas ranges also need to be assessed. And if they raise concerns in your mind, you’ll need to decide if you are willing to take the suggested practical measures to minimize health risks.
So, let’s dive in.
In most parts of the country, natural gas is less expensive than electricity. I’d say cheaper, but given the rising and volatile cost of utilities, neither is cheap anymore. Shrinkthatfootprint.com says, when it comes to heating:
“Natural gas heat costs about 75% of the price of electric heat over a year for a home.”
Another factor, especially when it comes to hot water and cooking, is whether your part of the country is prone to power outages.
Here in Oklahoma, when we have a power outage, it tends to be dramatic — like 2 to 3 days to a week or even a month or two. My mid-1960s house was built with gas connectors in place for the cooktop, wall oven, dryer, central heater, and hot water tank. Gas was also added to the fireplace for gas logs. So, when there’s a power outage, gas provides a reliable heat source for stovetop cooking, hot showers, and keeping several rooms warm.
As a result, my fuel of choice when it comes to heating things tends to be gas. An all-electric retrofit is simply impractical in terms of cost, and I want to be able to stay warm and cook if the power goes out in the winter.
But that’s not to say you can’t decide on a fuel choice appliance by appliance. For example, I have contemplated adding a 240-volt power source near the cooktop/wall oven. Since the gas wall oven won’t work in a power outage anyway, I won’t lose anything by going electric. But I don’t know how easy it would be to run a 240-volt line to that location. Nor do I know if my old fuse box can even handle that. Updating a fuse box is a major expense.
If you have your heart set on a different fuel source, get a quote. Just be aware that unlike an electric appliance that simply plugs in to work, gas appliances should be installed by a pro.
Of course, if your home doesn’t have natural gas service, a line has to be run to the home and on to the appliance in question. Again, a major expense.
Regardless of which fuel choice you make, when it comes to appliances, you want to upgrade to the most efficient ones you can afford. Be sure to read those yellow EnergyGuide and ENERGY STAR labels!
Every summer and winter, the power grid and its reliability make headlines. The push toward all-electric vehicles and moving toward an all-green power grid has also been in the news.
It’s not our task to cover the ins and outs of the reliability of our electrical grid. But suffice it to say a lot needs to be done to generate more power and move electricity around the country more reliably and efficiently, and it won’t happen quickly.
But it is important to know that our electricity is currently generated from a number of energy sources.
As the US Energy Information Administration chart below shows, as of 2022, nearly 60% of our electricity is generated using natural gas and coal. It should also be noted renewables like wind and solar are weather based and/or daylight hours only.
It’s also important to know the US does not have a master, country-wide power grid, much less a master plan. Our grid is split among 6 entities. And currently it’s not easy, if not impossible, for those entities to share their power if another needs it.
Courtesy North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a not-for-profit regulatory authority
NERC has also assessed the areas of the country with the highest risk factors for electrical interruptions.
Just keep these factors in mind as you make appliance choices for your home. Even if you opt to go all-electric for environmental reasons, just know your electricity isn’t necessarily green.
It can be hard to compare the two because different energy sources are measured and sold in different units. And of course, prices fluctuate from year to year. So, a guide based on 2021 prices may be totally irrelevant to today.
There are a number of free online calculators you can try. You will need to know the cost per unit of each energy source and about how much you’ll use a month. Good luck!
Depending on the bells and whistles you choose for features, gas dryers tend to cost a bit more up front.
Also, gas dryers:
Electric dryers are generally less expensive to buy, but:
Before you buy a new one, be sure to check out our blog "The Rough and Tumble World of the Clothes Dryer" for buying tips.
Forbes.com neatly lays out the pros and cons of each.
Gas tank-style water heaters:
Electric tank-style water heaters:
Before you buy, be sure to read our blog "How to Choose a Water Heater that’s Best for You."
And when it comes to maintenance, no matter which you choose, your hot water tank should periodically be drained in order to get rid of sludge and limescale. Read how to do it in our blog "How to Drain a Water Heater."
This comparison is tricky because there are several kinds of electric stoves and ranges. The coil-type electric cooktop we all grew up with is no longer the only option.
According to ConsumerAffairs.com:
“The most energy-efficient, fastest, cleanest and highest-performing ranges use electric induction technology. These ranges employ electromagnetic fields to heat the cookware directly and can boil water at least 20% faster than a gas stove.”
As to be expected, ranges with this type of technology are more expensive, although prices are dropping. Plus, features found within the oven cavity, regardless of the kind of range top, vary greatly, adding to cost differences.
But by in large, induction aside, gas cooking appliances may cost a bit more upfront but are more efficient and cheaper to operate.
Kitchenaid.com put together this handy chart:
They also point out that gas ranges have the reputation of being preferred by chefs. And, of course, electric ranges have no open flame.
If you are shopping for a new stove, first check out our blog "How to Buy a Stove."
All appliances can have safety hazards. And when it comes to gas, beyond being aware of cooking with an open flame, anyone with a gas heater or other gas appliances should have a carbon monoxide detector. This has been standard advice for years. It’s also why gas hot water tanks, gas dryers, and gas heaters should be vented to the outside.
But recent studies performed by several groups — PSE Healthy Energy, Stanford University, Consumer Reports, and Harvard University — have uncovered disturbing scientific data. Gas ranges can emit significant amounts of toxic pollutants like benzene, methane, hexane, toluene, nitric oxide/nitrogen dioxide NOx, carbon dioxide, and more.
The various studies did tests in the home as well as in the lab. And it didn’t matter if a gas appliance was high end or basic, old or new. The results were the same. Cooking with gas released unhealthy toxins.
Perhaps even more disturbing, the PSE study found methane leaks in 76% of them even when the gas stoves are turned off. To date, no one has pinpointed if those leaks when turned off is with the gas connection itself or how gas ranges themselves are built. Speculation points to the connection.
What’s the big deal over these emissions?
Tom’s Guide sums it up:
“The World Health Organization (WHO) and EPA have linked these emissions to cardiovascular problems, respiratory illness and even cancers. Worryingly, recent research…linked households with gas stoves to childhood asthma and found that 12% of cases in the U.S. could be the result of using a Gas Stove.”
Even before the studies, some municipalities across the country, with the goal of going green by reducing dependence on fossil fuels, have passed laws (or have been thinking about doing so) in order to ban the use of natural gas in new homes and buildings.
But since the studies, momentum is growing.
The state of New York has passed a gas ban law, with some exceptions. According to CNN:
“The law bans gas-powered stoves, furnaces and propane heating and effectively encourages the use of climate-friendly appliances such as heat pumps and induction stoves in most new residential buildings across the state. It requires all-electric heating and cooking in new buildings shorter than seven stories by 2026, and for taller buildings by 2029.
“The state’s budget doesn’t ban gas in all new buildings – there are exceptions for large commercial and industrial buildings like stores, hospitals, laundromats, and restaurants, for instance.”
In response, a number of states have passed bills to prevent municipalities from banning natural gas. The graph below dates from early 2022.
It should be pointed out that although there are standards for outdoor pollution, currently the US has no standards for indoor air quality.
Because of these studies, your decision whether to choose gas or electric appliances should also include health concerns — in addition to the others listed earlier — into your considerations.
If the studies have raised concerns for you, here are some ideas suggested by various experts.
To check for cookware compatibility, thespruceeats.com suggests holding a magnet to the bottom. If it clings, it will work. If it doesn’t, it won’t. A soft cling means it probably won’t work well. A heat diffuser induction plate can also be purchased. It sits directly on the induction cooking surface with a non-compatible pot or pan like aluminum, all copper, and glass on top of it. That way you don’t have to replace your cookware.
Regardless of brand and whether you are purchasing electric or gas appliances, Certified Appliance Accessories has the installation connectors you need.
You can use our heavy-duty, porcelain broiler pan and grill sets in your new oven or on your grill, regardless of fuel source. The same can be said for our dryer vent ducts. Plus we have dryer duct installation kits that include electric cords.
Choosing an appliance should never be a snap decision. Do your research. And keep us in mind when it comes to those installation accessories.
Certified Appliance Accessories—Your Appliance Connection Solution.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only. Certified Appliance Accessories is not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information.