How choosing electricity over gas can help you and the environment
Whether renovating, buying or simply replacing old appliances, choosing the right technology for your home can save money and reduce your environmental footprint.
There’s a widespread assumption that gas appliances are cheaper to run in Australia than electric ones. However, a 2019 Renew study found that choosing to go all-electric can not only be cheaper but can also help reduce your CO2 emissions.
Here’s how switching to an all-electric household could save you money and help the environment.
Hot water systems
Heating your water can account for up to 30% of your household energy use, so it’s important to make the right choice when looking at gas versus electric hot water systems – and you have more options than you think.
Gas hot water heaters are installed outdoors for efficient venting and generally cost between $800 and $2,000 to buy and install.
Half of Australian households have electric hot water systems and they are the cheapest to buy, starting at around $200. But, unless you add a solar collector to your hot water system or your system is powered by a solar PV (electric) system, they are more expensive to run.
Another alternative, and possibly the most efficient, is a heat pump water heater. Powered by electricity, heat pumps take warmth from the air to heat your water. Although they may require a more significant investment upfront (around $4,000, but you may be eligible for rebates), they use 60% less electricity than a conventional electric hot water system, saving you significantly in the long run. They can also help reduce your carbon footprint, creating less CO2 emissions than a typical gas water heater.
Heating and cooling
Approximately 40% of your overall energy usage goes toward heating and/or cooling your home.
While gas heaters can quickly warm up a room, they’re becoming more expensive to run due to rising gas prices and inefficient technology in older models.
Heat pump technology, on the other hand, can help reverse-cycle air conditioners turn one unit of thermal energy into three to six times as much heating or cooling energy, allowing them to operate at 300-600% efficiency. Unlike a gas heater, you get two functions out of one system. Plus, heat pumps can reduce your energy bill by a third of the cost of heating with gas.
Many cooks preferred the fast and easy-to-read heat of a gas cooktop over slower, harder-to-gauge electric versions. But this is changing now.
While cooking with gas is fast, two-thirds of the heat energy from your stove will end up in your room, not your pot. In fact, of all gas appliances in your home, cooktops are the most inefficient (generally achieving 30% efficiency).
Electric induction cooktops are the most energy-efficient, operating at 90% efficiency. They also provide better heat distribution, warm your food faster and allow you to be more accurate with temperature.
Electric ovens are often cheaper up-front, while gas ovens are generally more affordable to operate. But the long-term cost saving is not as large as you might think. As gas prices increase, potential savings go down. More energy-efficient electric ovens have narrowed the cost gap, too.
In Australia, 20% of homes have rooftop solar panels installed – the highest uptake globally. These systems do not produce greenhouse gas emissions and are great for your wallet in the long run.
Although a solar PV system requires an initial investment of between $3,000 and $12,000 (prices are coming down thanks to mass production and government rebates), it will typically pay for itself in three to five years and enable you to continue to save long term. For example, opting for an all-electric home with a 5-kilowatt solar system can save you between $9,000 and $18,000 over ten years, compared to a gas-electric system without solar.
Adding batteries to your system also offers the potential to offset expensive, peak-time electricity from the grid.
Electricity lets you control and monitor
Another benefit of electricity is that, when combined with a smart device, you can control your home’s energy use remotely or set devices to operate on a regular schedule. If you have a smart meter, you can also monitor your usage using apps like the AGL Energy App. Gas systems don’t offer the same capabilities as they are not monitored by smart meters.
Choosing solar panels, the right appliances and home energy management systems are just a few ways in which you can harness the power of electricity to improve your day-to-day life and take care of your bank balance and the earth.
Get in tune with your energy usage
Energy Insights estimates how much electricity your home uses on heating, cooling, lighting, laundry, standby and more. Take control of running costs to find out where you could start saving.Find out more