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Why you should switch from gas to electric

Created: Wed, 15 Jan 2020

Once upon a time, gas was a cheap and plentiful energy source for Australian homes and from as early as the 1930's, we've all been encouraged to “cook with gas”.

Why you should switch from gas to electric

The Natural Gas Industry's new-fangled stoves were the catalyst for clever industry-sponsored campaign “Now we're cooking with gas.”

“Now we're cooking with gas” is a common phrase created way back in the 1930's - 1940's by a clever industry-sponsored advertising campaign thought up by the natural gas industry to convince people to use gas, rather than electricity, on their new-fangled stoves. This was the era where there was a widespread transition from wood-fuelled stoves, and electric and natural gas stoves were in competition with each other. The gas industry wanted to imprint the idea in people's minds that cooking with gas was the most effective way to get the hot food on the table.

If you've been living under a rock, the modern understanding of the phrase which is now part of our lexicon is “functioning very effectively” or “achieving something substantial”, or, after a time of trial and error, “we're finally rolling”.

Roll forward 80 something years and gas is no longer cheap, with around 80 per cent of all the domestically produced gas now exported overseas. Wholesale gas prices have rocketed - in some cases quadrupling when measured against inflation. Even at these high gas prices, households have been reluctant to move away from gas, and heavy marketing spend has pushed the message that gas is still a cheap fuel.

Note: The Alternative Technology Association has written to the ACCC alerting it to misleading claims being made by gas companies about the cost and efficiency of gas.

Now aside from new electric appliances being far more efficient than their gas counterparts, Gas or Natural Gas is a Fossil Fuel and quite frankly is (or should be) an energy of the past.

To further convince you, we have compiled the top three reasons why you should switch from gas to electric.

It's a Fossil Fuel.

Plain and simple. However you spin it, “Gas” or “Natural Gas” like Coal and Crude Oil are all considered fossil fuels because “they were formed from the buried remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago”. And what is the biggest factor impacting our climate right now? Our use of dirty fossil fuels and when we have new technologies like wind, solar, and advanced batteries in our hands, we can power today and tomorrow with clean, reliable energy that doesn't harm our health or destroy our planet. To us, this choice is quite obvious really.

Electric is cheaper and more efficient.

The reality is that new electric appliances are far more efficient than gas. For example: a reverse-cycle air conditioner (or heat pump) uses a refrigerant system to harvest free renewable heat from the air outside your home. Even if the thermometer registers below freezing, modern heat pumps incorporating “inverter” technology and modified refrigerants can operate down to temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees. It is because a heat pump harvests “free heat” from the air outside your home that the cost of using one can be as little as one-third the cost of burning gas.

Despite the advertising that gas is cheaper than electricity per unit of energy, it is much less efficient. One megajoule of energy used by electric technology like heat pumps for hot water and reverse-cycle air conditioners for space heating can transfer between 4-5 MJ of heat. With gas, the one megajoule of energy will not exceed 0.9 Megajoule of heat in a furnace or heater. For a home that uses ducted heating, one-third will go up the flue and another third will be lost under the floor. The ATA has produced an exhaustive report on the comparison of using gas compared to electric appliances, and overwhelmingly the evidence is that households would be thousands of dollars a year better off by converting to electric only.

Gas in your home is not safe.

Gas has many safety concerns, such as risk of carbon monoxide, gas leaks (and explosions) and kitchen fires. Gas cook-tops have open flame (which regularly sets fire to loose sleeves, tea towels, grease, plastic pot handles etc) whilst some electric induction cook tops will not operate unless the correct pot or pan is on the hob.

So, while the idea of switching from gas appliances (oven, hot water heating etc) might seem cumbersome or labour intensive, not to mention a little pricey, let us assure you it is common practice and if the above hasn't already convinced you, it's bloody economical for your household bill and the environment.

Author: Ross from EnergyIQ