Which is cheaper to run gas or electric stove? Explained

The answer to this question depends on several factors, such as the cost of electricity and gas in your area, the efficiency of your appliances, and your cooking habits. However, in general, gas stoves tend to be cheaper to run than electric stoves, especially if you have a natural gas connection.

Gas stoves use gas to create a flame that heats up the cookware directly, while electric stoves use electricity to heat up coils or ceramic elements that transfer heat to the cookware. Both types of stoves have their advantages and disadvantages, but when it comes to the cost of operation, gas stoves usually have the edge.

Cost of electricity and gas

One of the main factors that determines the cost of running a stove is the price of electricity and gas in your area. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average residential price of electricity in the U.S. was 13.76 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2023, while the average residential price of natural gas was $10.60 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) in 2023. These prices vary by state and region, so you should check your local utility rates to get a more accurate estimate.

To compare the cost of electricity and gas, you need to convert them to a common unit, such as British thermal units (BTUs). One kWh of electricity is equivalent to 3,412 BTUs, while one Mcf of natural gas is equivalent to 1,020,000 BTUs. Therefore, the average cost of electricity per BTU in the U.S. was 0.004 cents in 2023, while the average cost of natural gas per BTU was 0.001 cents in 2023. This means that electricity was about four times more expensive than natural gas per unit of energy.

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However, this does not mean that electric stoves are always four times more expensive to run than gas stoves, because the efficiency of the appliances also matters.

Efficiency of appliances

Another factor that affects the cost of running a stove is the efficiency of the appliance, which is the ratio of the useful energy output to the energy input. Gas stoves are generally less efficient than electric stoves, because some of the heat from the gas flame is lost to the surrounding air, while electric stoves convert almost all of the electricity into heat. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), gas stoves have an average efficiency of 40%, while electric stoves have an average efficiency of 74%.

To account for the efficiency of the appliances, you need to multiply the cost of energy per BTU by the inverse of the efficiency. For example, the average cost of electricity per BTU for an electric stove is 0.004 cents divided by 0.74, which is 0.005 cents. The average cost of natural gas per BTU for a gas stove is 0.001 cents divided by 0.4, which is 0.0025 cents. This means that electric stoves are still about twice as expensive to run than gas stoves per unit of useful heat.

However, this does not mean that electric stoves are always twice as expensive to run than gas stoves, because your cooking habits also matter.

Cooking habits

The final factor that influences the cost of running a stove is your cooking habits, such as how often you cook, how long you cook, and what type of cookware you use. Gas stoves have the advantage of being more responsive and precise than electric stoves, which means you can adjust the heat level quickly and easily. This can help you save energy by avoiding overcooking or undercooking your food, and by turning off the stove as soon as you are done. Electric stoves, on the other hand, take longer to heat up and cool down, which means you may waste energy by heating up the stove too early or leaving it on too long.

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Another aspect of your cooking habits that affects the cost of running a stove is the type of cookware you use. Gas stoves work well with any type of cookware, but electric stoves require flat-bottomed and evenly-sized cookware to ensure good contact with the heating element. If you use warped, dented, or mismatched cookware on an electric stove, you will lose heat and efficiency, which will increase your energy costs. Therefore, you should invest in high-quality cookware that is suitable for your stove type.

Conclusion

In conclusion, gas stoves are generally cheaper to run than electric stoves, especially if you have a natural gas connection. However, the exact cost difference depends on the cost of electricity and gas in your area, the efficiency of your appliances, and your cooking habits. To save money and energy, you should compare the utility rates in your area, choose the most efficient appliances for your needs, and adopt smart cooking practices. By doing so, you can enjoy the benefits of both gas and electric stoves without breaking the bank.