Gas or electric? Making smart energy choices for your home

The choices you make when building or renovating a home - like deciding between gas or electric for your hot water and cooking - will affect both your lifestyle and your energy bills.

Progress Your Home
5 min read
If you’re building a new home or getting stuck into some renovations, you have a lot of decisions ahead of you.

Classic colour schemes, family-proof flooring, budget breakdowns… and the right energy choices to meet your family’s needs. The choices you make – including deciding between gas or electric for your hot water and cooking – will affect your energy bills, your lifestyle and the environment. So, we’ve broken down the pros and cons for you.

Don’t land yourself in hot water

When it comes to water heating, being cost-effective is key; hot water systems can account for 25% of the average Aussie household’s energy usage1.

In anticipating your usage and picking a suitable solution, there are a few factors to consider; like weighing up your city’s weather, the needs of your bustling household and doing the right thing by the environment.

Electric hot water systems

Electric hot water systems typically have a lower set-up cost and are reliable in delivering hot water on demand.

The downsides:

• conventional electric systems are generally the most expensive system types to run and produce more greenhouse gases than other systems2
• if the power goes off you may be without hot water, depending on whether you have a storage or instantaneous system.

Solar hot water systems

Looking for a more environmentally friendly option? You might want to consider rooftop solar – the panels heat water using the power of the sun and keep it warm in an insulated storage tank, for you to tap into as needed. Solar can help to reduce energy bills, typically providing between 50-90% of your hot water needs3.

The upfront costs associated with solar hot water systems are higher than other types, but you’re investing in better long-term cost efficiency. If you’re keen on solar (and depending on your climate), it’s a good idea to have a gas backup to ensure your water stays toasty on days when the sun isn’t keeping up.

Family renovating new home
Gas hot water systems

Gas systems have a secret weapon for cutting energy costs. Did you know that around 30% of the energy that’s used to warm-up your water in a storage system can be wasted through heat loss from the tank and pipes?4 But if you have an instantaneous gas system (or continuous flow system), the water is heated at the time of use when you turn on the tap – that means there’s no tank to be constantly heated, even when you aren’t using it.

Other advantages of these systems include:

• they produce up to 33% less greenhouse gases than electric systems5
• they work well with solar panels, as the gas backup kicks in if you need more hot water than the solar system has heated.

What’s cooking?

Whether you’re a whiz in the kitchen or it’s always a chore, you want your appliances to be easy to use and energy efficient.

It’s a matter of opinion, but those who love to cook often prefer gas. You can change the temperature instantly with gas, while electric systems take a little longer to respond. Gas also allows you to continue cooking even if the power goes out.

When choosing between gas and electric, you’ll essentially need to weigh up making an investment now to save in the long run, or opting for a cheaper setup with higher running costs over time.

If you’re building or renovating, it’s cheaper to install a gas line during the process than to convert to gas in an existing property. If you enjoy the idea of gas savings but are less keen on the conversion cost of piping in natural gas to an existing home, you could consider LPG canisters – they’re delivered with handy level indicators, so you don’t run out.

Or for those who want the best of both worlds, a dual system might be the perfect match.

To view AGL Gas Plans offered in your state, visit Get Connected.

1 Hot water energy usage
2 Cost of electric hot water systems
3 Solar for hot water needs
4 Heat loss in water heating
5 Environmental impact of gas hot water systems