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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.

In addition to size and features, deciding between gas and electricity is a major consideration.

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 be cheaper and 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 are built to last between 10 - 20 years.

Half of Australian households have electric hot water systems, and they are usually the cheapest to buy. 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 (but you may be eligible for rebates), they use less electricity than a conventional electric hot water system, saving you significantly in the long run. 

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.

On the other hand, heat pump technology 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.

Stoves

Many cooks preferred a gas cooktop's fast and easy-to-read heat over slower, harder-to-gauge electric versions. But this is changing.

While cooking with gas is fast, excess heat energy from your stove can end up in your room and can end up being less efficient.  Electric induction cooktops operate at 90% efficiency. They also provide better heat distribution, warm your food faster and allow you to be more accurate with temperature.

Man cooking on gas stove

Ovens

Electric ovens are the most common in Australian households and are often cheaper up-front. But the long-term cost saving is not as large as you might think. More energy-efficient electric ovens have narrowed the cost gap, too.

Solar panels

In Australia, 20% of homes have rooftop solar panels installed – the highest uptake globally. The energy generated by these systems do not emit any greenhouse gas emissions and are great for your wallet in the long run.

Although a solar PV system requires an initial investment starting from around $3,500 for a basic installation, prices are decreasing 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. 

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 regularly. 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.

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