Q:

Which is cheaper: electric or gas heat?

A:

Generally, heat powered by electricity is cheaper than gas-powered heat. Electric heat is billed per kilowatt-hour and gas-powered heat is billed per therm. In most cases, electric heat billed per kilowatt-hour is much cheaper than gas-powered heat billed per therm.

One of the reasons electric heat is typically cheaper than gas-powered heat is because there are several fuel sources to generate electricity, and those sources, generally, are cheaper than the sources that generate gas power. Some of those methods are coal, nuclear power, natural gas and landfill gas. Another reason why electric heat is cheaper than gas heat is because it's easier to regulate your bill with electric-powered heat. The number of kilowatt-hours used is determined by the length of time that you use electricity and the wattage of the device requiring the electricity. For example, a 40-watt light bulb uses 40 kilowatts per hour, but a 13-watt energy-saving light bulb would save 27 kilowatt-hours an hour. According to Georgia Power, an average kilowatt-hour rate is $0.05 per kilowatt-hour. Consumers could save $1.35 just by using an energy-saving bulb. Similarly, using energy-saving electric appliances and furnaces will help keep monthly electricity bills down.

Gas-powered heat, on the other hand, is billed according to how many therms are used, and the only way to regulate therm usage is to use gas-powered heat less frequently. Therm rates tend to be higher than kilowatt-hour rates. Also, therm rates vary depending on the rate offered by the gas company. For instance, a therm rate could be anywhere between $0.50 to $0.75 per therm. Most companies allow its customers to lock in a rate for a year. Not locking in a therm rate usually means the rate will fluctuate each month.


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