Gas vs electric appliances
Save money and energy by researching your appliance options
by Rosemary Avance, Ph.D.
ConsumerAffairs Research Team
It’s fun to pick out brand new appliances, but you’ve got a lot of choices to make! Before you pick out your new appliance's color and features, you need to decide if you want gas or electric. There are benefits to both, so I’ve broken down the pros and cons to help you figure out which option is right for you.
What’s cheaper: gas or electric?
Natural gas is almost always cheaper than electricity. Choosing all gas appliances can save you up to 30 percent on your utility bill. But while we all want to save on utility bills, there’s more money on the line than just utility costs.
If your home is only set up for electric appliances, converting to gas will cost a pretty penny. You’ll probably spend between $250 and $700 to reroute a gas line and install a gas appliance, and that doesn’t include the cost of the appliance itself. You might be eligible for rebates from your utility company if you do convert to natural gas, so be sure to give them a call before you make the decision.
Converting to electric will also be pricey: You’ll have to install an electric line and cap the gas line, which will put you out at least $350 per line.
Bottom line: Converting from one system to the other is expensive. Gas appliances cost more upfront, but over time, gas will save you money on your utility bill.
Is gas or electric safer?
Home safety first
It’s important to make sure your new appliance is safe for your family. Both gas and electric appliances have a few potential safety hazards you should be aware of:
Gas: If you use gas, be sure your home has proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. You’ll also need to install and regularly test a carbon monoxide alarm, if you don’t already have one.
Electric: Electric appliances carry a slight risk of fire and electrocution if they're not installed and maintained properly. All appliances and home wiring systems should be kept up to date and used according to directions to ensure safety.
Gas is greener
Gas takes the trophy as the more eco-friendly option for any appliance. Gas dryers in particular use 30 percent less energy than electric ones, which will reduce your carbon footprint. That’s something to feel good about!
How to choose your appliances
Your choice between a gas or electric stove and oven will depend on how picky you are about your cooking and which type is more convenient for you.
Gas: If you want a stove or oven with a long life, gas is the way to go. Gas cooking appliances have fewer parts and are easier to maintain. Gas stovetops are also preferred by chefs because they heat faster and more evenly than electric, so you can sauté your food to perfection.
Electric: If baking is your forte, you may prefer an electric oven. Electric ovens heat more evenly than gas. If you’re new to cooking, you might prefer an electric oven and range, which are a bit easier to use. Electric stovetops are also easier to clean since newer models have smooth tops with no coil burners. It’s a pain to scrub burned food off a gas stovetop’s grates and drip pans.
Bottom line: Gas and electric stoves and ovens are similar enough that most average cooks can get by with either one. Professional chefs tend to prefer gas stoves while bakers often prefer electric ovens.
While manufacturers no longer make gas washing machines (they were replaced by high-efficiency electric washers), you can choose gas or electric for your dryer.
Gas: Gas dryers are usually a little more expensive to buy, but you’ll see substantial savings on your utility bill in the long run. Gas dryers dry clothes faster and use less energy. And although gas dryers use some electricity (just like gas stoves), it's minimal compared to electric models.
Electric: Electric dryers are cheaper initially, so they might be a good choice if you’re on a budget or if you don’t plan on staying in your home long-term. Gas dryers require a vent to the outside, but some electric dryers don’t; you may be forced to choose a ventless electric dryer depending on your laundry room’s setup.
Bottom line: Gas dryers are cheaper to operate but more expensive to buy. Your choice will probably depend on the setup of your laundry room.
If you’re a grill master, you might be wondering whether you should choose gas or electric for your outdoor grill. The differences really center on how you plan to cook your food.
Gas: A gas grill connects to a gas line (for fixed grills) or a propane tank (for portable grills). Gas grills tend to infuse food with more of a campfire flavor than electric grills since they use an open flame. Gas grills might also be restricted in your area, so be sure to check local ordinances before you buy one.
Electric: Outdoor electric grills tend to be smaller than gas grills but can be moved and used anywhere there’s an outlet. It is easier to maintain a constant temperature using an electric grill, which gives you more control over your food while cooking.
Other options: When it comes to grills, charcoal and mesquite impart the most authentic grilled flavor. They are also usually cheaper and can be easier to transport to campsites and other locations since you don’t have to hook up to your gas line or outlet.
Bottom line: Gas grills aren’t as convenient as electric, but they result in a more authentic grilled flavor. Before you buy a grill, you’ll have to decide what’s more important to you: speed or flavor.
If you already have gas or electric lines running to your fireplace, you might find it easiest to go with what you have. If you’re open to new installation, there are pros and cons for both types.
Gas: Gas fireplaces have faux logs but use a real flame to create a warm, cozy atmosphere. But gas fireplaces are one instance where gas is not cheaper to operate; it takes more gas than electricity to make the same amount of low-grade heat, so your bill will be higher for gas.
Electric: Electric fireplaces create heat that is warm and inviting, but they don’t have that familiar flame. Instead, they just radiate ambient heat from warmed coils like a space heater. On the other hand, they’re more efficient and will keep your heating bill lower than a gas fireplace. They’re also a bit safer since they stay cool to the touch and have no flames.
Bottom line: If you want a real flame, go with gas; if you care more about cost savings, electric’s the way to go.
If you want to replace appliances without doing any renovations, you may be stuck with the type that matches the hookups in your home. If you’re building a home or open to converting, you’ll have more options. Whatever you end up choosing for your home, do your research to find an appliance brand that’s fun, functional and safe. Check out our guides on dryers, grills and ovens to get started!
- 5/12/17 Last Updated