A statement about your home

Gas heaters or electric heaters: which should you go with?

by Tomothy Little

Maintaining a warm and cosy household during the winter months while at the same time not spending a fortune on energy bills requires a fine balancing act. Since the cooling and heating of Australian homes accounts for an estimated 23% of energy use throughout the country, selecting a heater that saves on cost but is also effective is essential. While gas heaters are the better choice in some cases, other homes may benefit from more portable electric heaters. This really is one of those things requiring a case-by-case examination of the home. In any case, this short guide will outline some of the pros and cons of the two heating systems in order to help you make a more informed decision before you purchase.

Short term versus long-term costs

The basic cost of buying an electric heating unit can be anywhere from $20 to $200, depending on how big and sophisticated the model is. This generally makes an electric heater a cheaper option than a gas heater, at least for the initial purchase. However, in the long term, gas heaters are actually usually the more affordable option because gas bills are normally cheaper than electricity bills. In some cases, gas heaters have been found to be up to 60% cheaper than electric heaters in overall running and maintenance expenses. Of course, this all also depends on how often and for how long you plan to use your purchased heater. 

Size of the space you're planning to heat

Gas heaters are generally better at heating up large spaces. Electric heaters, which can be wall mounted or placed on the floor, specialise in providing heat for small spaces or for individuals, rather than large groups. They are also easier to move around, given their lighter weight and usually smaller size. If the latter is the case for you, an electric heater may be the way to go. 

Effects on health and the environment

Gas heating creates a small amount of harmful gases such as carbon monoxide as well as water vapour. Carbon monoxide and other waste products can negatively affect the health of anyone breathing them in for extended periods of time as well as damage the environment to an extent. Water vapour, on the other hand, can create condensation and result in mould or erosion problems throughout the home. With this in mind, prospective gas-heater buyers must decide between flued heaters, which direct these gases and vapors out of the home using pipes but are generally expensive, and unflued heaters, which release the gases indoors but are cheaper. While electric heaters are not as much of a risk in regard to health and safety, they may still damage the environment. 

Whichever heating system you decide to go with, consult a specialist for advice first.