What is more Eco-Friendly: Electric or Gas Heating?

gas vs electric water heater
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More and more people, regardless of their political convictions, are aware that if we don’t change our behavior dramatically, our grandchildren might inherit the Earth that is completely inhospitable to the human race. If we want to reverse the harmful trends, we need to act soon – there is no Planet B. Perhaps in the future, we might colonize other planets, but so far, if we don’t stop damaging our planet, it is possible that we will go extinct.

You have likely heard about different things you should be doing to decrease your carbon footprint. Sure, if we want to see the real change, we need government regulations, but each one of us should act as well. In a second, you’ll learn whether electric or gas heating is more eco-friendly. Let’s go!

Electric Heating

Although it’s not entirely harmless to the environment, electric heating is definitely a better option than fossil fuels. To produce energy, the utility companies can invest in methods that wouldn’t be viable, due to the costs, for regular users. It is usually a mix of different methods, as a company that would rely solely on solar plants wouldn’t be able to provide energy for the users during the night. The technology isn’t just there yet – it is already possible, but still not financially profitable.

If you intend to start producing energy on your own, f.e. by installing solar panels on your roof, the transition would be far easier if your home is heated by electricity. On the other hand, changing from gas heating to renewable energy would be far more costly.

It doesn’t mean, though, that electric heating is always the better choice. It is a frequent issue that the way in which electricity is being used isn’t great for the environment. Electric resistance heating has terrible effects on the environment, which is why you should switch to a more eco-friendly heating system if you care about your environmental footprint. Being eco-friendly is one thing, but if you intend to use electric heating, the more energy-efficient system will also help you save money.

Electric water heaters are significantly more eco-friendly than the ones that are gas-powered. The older models used to heat water even when it wasn’t needed. Thankfully,  the best electric tankless water heater models available on the market allow you to avoid unnecessarily wasting energy. On top of that, it will also considerably cut your expenses.

Gas Heating

Although gas is one of the cleanest fossil fuels, it is still more harmful to Mother Nature than electricity. Unfortunately, gas heating, in most cases, is also cheaper. Sure, the damage that we are doing to our planet is terrible, but if someone has just barely enough money to get by, then having the smallest environmental footprint possible isn’t a priority. That’s why there should be government programs in place that would help people transition to cleaner sources of energy.

The issue with the gas is not that it is significantly more harmful to the environment when it is being used. Instead, during the extraction, vast quantities of methane are being released to the atmosphere, which makes global warming worse. On top of that, pipelines often destroy the natural habitat of many species.

On the positive note, gas heating is available even if the power is out, which could be an essential factor if you are experiencing frequent power outages.

Renewable Energy is on the Rise

Currently, renewable sources of energy account for 17% of the electricity generation in the United States. Although right now solar energy accounts only for 11% of all clean energy produced, it is predicted that by 2050, the percentage will climb to 48%. More people are aware of the effects that we, humans, have on our planet. Thankfully, as time passes, the technology that allows us to generate energy in a more eco-friendly way is getting cheaper. The awareness that we should avoid coal and other harmful energy sources is not enough if people don’t have enough money. That’s why the governments in many countries have spent significant amounts of money to help their citizens transition into more energy-efficient heating systems.

What’s Better?

It is impossible to say that either electric or gas heating is better. Both of those systems have their own advantages and disadvantages. If your priority is to avoid harming the natural environment, then electricity is usually a better choice than gas. Gas, on the other hand, is the cleanest fossil fuel available, though it is worse for the environment than electricity. It is still widely used because the costs of switching to electricity are high. That’s why government programs are crucial if we want to decrease the emissions of co2 to the atmosphere. Otherwise, some people will stick to gas simply because the transition would be too costly.

Frequently Asked Questions about Electric and Gas Heating

We all know that human technology isn’t stopping, and our thirst for energy rises along with it. However, the non-renewable sources we’re using are only harming the planet.

Scientists are continually looking for energy sources that don’t damage the environment, and regular customers try to reduce the carbon footprint. And one of the many things they can do is use heating that is more protective of the environment.

Even if gas and electric heating aren’t the best solutions when it comes to protecting the environment, some things can reduce the damage. The next FAQs will help you understand.

1.      What’s to say about the electric heating in a nutshell?

If we only refer to the process of converting the fuel source to heat energy, electricity is the best at it. The conversion process doesn’t lead to any dangerous greenhouse gasses, no environmentally hazardous byproducts. It’s the other fuel sources that pose a risk for the environment when turned into heat energy.

2.      Do people choose electric heating?

As the world is looking for more “renewable” electricity, households with electric heating will become more and more common. As long as we’re able to produce electricity exclusively with renewable sources, the all-electric houses should have a tiny carbon footprint.

At the moment, the majority of houses have  some electrical service, so the “renewable” electricity is available, and the spending of turning a house to electric heating will be reduced. It’s because you will already have the fuel in the home.

3.      Is electricity versatile?

Electricity can be utilized as a fuel source for both air conditions and heating. Heat pumps run on power ensure both heating and cooling, in just one equipment.

With air conditioning running exclusively on electricity, it makes perfect sense why people turn so very often to power.

4.      Is electric heating pricey?

Many customers sit on the fence about electric heating, as it considers it to be pricey, but there are plenty of efficient choices. High-efficiency heat pumps are affordable and reliable for heating a household, which only sustains the popularity of electric heating.

5.      Are there any downsides for electric heating?

It seems that almost 70% of electricity generation in the US results from plants turning fossil fuels to electricity, with coal, natural gas, and petroleum as the most popular. Coal is the most polluting fossil fuels.

Another aspect comes from hydro generation, which doesn’t need the combustion of fossil fuels. However, hydro doesn’t qualify as a renewable energy source as it includes environmental spending. Dams may damage fish and affect migration and reproduction.

Let’s not forget the utility costs for some electric heating devices. The “electric resistance” heating equipment is the priciest heating fuel source. Due to the ineffective electric resistance heating and fossil fuels, environmental spending on electricity is rising as we speak.

6.      Are the heat pumps a better option?

Heat pumps also present an environmental cost, even if it’s a small one. The manufacturing process for heat pumps leads to dangerous emissions. Additionally, heat pumps use refrigerant, which harms the environment when leaked.

Regardless of the downsides, heat pumps make the best alternative when it comes to a smaller carbon footprint. Moreover, they can also ensure air conditioning along with heating.

7.      Is it expensive to switch to natural gas heating?

If you’re thinking about switching from electric to gas, you need to consider the conversion spending. Switching from one fuel source to another is expensive, and the gas utility has to ensure gas service to your house. You may end up spending thousands of dollars only for switching.

And once you have gas, it has to be piped from the gas meter to the furnace place inside your home, which only raises the spending.

8.      Why go with natural gas?

Natural gas is a clean0burning fossil fuel, which makes it an excellent choice for fuel sources, unlike other fossil fuels such as heating oil. Should you be able to use only fossil fuels in your home, go with natural gas.

When we compare natural gas to electric resistance equipment, natural gas takes the lead. The spending on heating a home with a natural gas furnace is lower than with an electrical resistance furnace.

Even if you use the lowest efficiency gas furnace (80% FUE), you’re still going to pay less for operating it than in the case of an electric heater. As a big part of the electricity comes from “dirty sources,” natural gas manages to be better for the environment than electric resistance heating.

Moreover, we shouldn’t worry any time soon about the supply. Natural gas is an excellent option as the amount will last decades. In the meantime, scientists can continue their efforts to find better sources of renewable energy.

9.      What are the shortcomings of natural gas?

Various hydrocarbons and methane are found in natural gas. Natural gas appears natural underground when the remains of animals and plants are exposed to high pressures. It can be extracted, but much of the gas is lost throughout the extraction process. Methane is a greenhouse gas and is harmful to the environment.

Another method for extracting gas is fracking, which also presents adverse effects on the environment. Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) means that a liquid will be injected at high pressure into rocks and holes underground, forcing current open cracks in rocks and extracting the natural gas. Obviously, some methane gas will also escape. In the case of fracking, there’s also a high risk of water pollution.

On top of everything else, the transportation of natural gas impacts the environment, as the pipes transporting the gas affect the environment.

There are also safety concerns related to natural gas appliances in the house. When burning, natural gas generates carbon monoxide gas, which is lethal when breathed in high amounts. As long as the gas furnace is serviced and properly functioning, it would help if you didn’t worry about your safety, though.

10.  Are there more risks or benefits with natural gas heating?

When we take a look at fossil fuels such as petroleum or oil, natural gas stands out as the better option. One school of thought is that the high amount of supply and new extraction methods pose a problem. Since there is an impressive supply of natural gas, the interest in finding renewable fuel sources isn’t intense. It could take decades until better and healthier options will be detected or developed.

Should the people wouldn’t have so much natural gas, and they would be forced into looking for renewable energy a lot sooner.

11. Which one should you choose?

All in all, electric heating uses dirty fossil fuels, so it’s not much of a difference to the natural gas when we only refer to the environmental impact. The most important aspect is that you should focus on increasing your house’s heating efficiency as much as you can.

No matter if you’re using gas or electric heating, you can still protect the environment. You should upgrade the efficiency of the equipment and insulate your home. Buy efficient and reliable windows and doors, so that you don’t lose much heat and keep the cool air inside in the summer.

If that’s not doing it for you, you can always look for more renewable energy sources so that you can heat your household and impact the environment a lot less too!

About Amanda

I love to buy a lot of products for the home, and dissect them out. I split them into duds and winners, and share the findings here on my site. As a reader of my site, I'm aiming for your next purchase to be an informed and inspired one.

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