Financially, Gas or Electric?

by Sebastian Friedman

In considering whether it is best to have gas or electric to power our lights and heat our homes, the financial considerations are always going to feature. This article will consider cost along with the pros and cons of both power sources for the householder and beyond.

Costs of Gas and Electricity

Making the costs cheaper is about finding the best tariff, whether it be gas or electricity that you are pricing. This can be done through comparison websites, who will help you to compare different price options and deals that are currently available to energy users.

To compare the two, electricity is usually found to be more expensive when used for heating. This is due to transportation costs and taxes payable. Another reason why electricity is more expensive is that it is less efficient when factoring in the costs of the original fuel required in the first place to generate this energy source.

Convenience

Natural gas is very reliable because during a storm it will not be cut off like electricity. It is also safer and easier to store in comparison to other fossil fuels.

If you have a gas boiler, you will need to spend money to have it serviced regularly. That is, once a year, by a qualified and registered engineer. This is important because there is the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from old and badly maintained boilers and blocked flue pipes. Monitors, like fire alarms, can be purchased to help detect the invisible gas. The gas is a silent killer if left to its own devices, in that you cannot see or smell it. The risk from gas itself is that of explosion. But then, the risk of electrocution is there will electricity. So, whatever power source we are using we should take care to follow the safety guidelines. With gas, remembering to turn off all knobs when not in use, to stop gas escaping. With electricity, not allowing children to poke fingers into electrical sockets and making sure that plugs are earthed and wired correctly.

Environment

Natural gas is environmentally friendly due to it burning cleaner than other fossil fuels. Nuclear power stations and wind turbines are replacing coal power stations to produce electricity in a more energy efficient way. Wind turbines work on the opposite principle of an electric desk fan. Instead of using electricity to power it, the fan is being used to produce the electricity. It would seem ingenious to have reversed this concept, except that wind turbine for use in producing electricity was a concept invented by Charles F. Brush from Cleveland, Ohio in 1888. So, it has taken a while to catch on as an environmentally friendly invention. His version had 144 rotor blades made of cedarwood and would generate 12kw of power. The wind, like today, would turn the blades to create electricity. From an environmental point of view, it may be an eyesore in the sea, but they are usually a long way out and are a cleaner way of producing electrical energy. The wind turbines today will have power ratings that range from 250w to 7mw. An onshore one from a wind farm will, for example, have a capacity of 2.5-3mw and be capable of producing 6 million kWh during a year. This is incredible enough to supply, on average, 1,500 European households. All this from one turbine, and with many all working onshore and offshore to produce our electricity.

Considering the way electricity used to be produced, gas was cleaner to the environment, but with modern techniques, there is no longer this differential. In terms of cost, electricity is currently more expensive than gas for heating, but by ever-increasing its ways of being environmentally friendly, likely to come at less cost to the environment in the longer term. Electricity, too, is going to be the future power for motor vehicles. BNEF outlines in a report that, by 2025, 10 percent of global passenger vehicle sales with be electric. From a financial point of view, investing in electricity now will serve us all well for the future.