Is Gas Heating the Best Option?
When it comes to reliable warmth for combatting winter’s chill, gas heating is often seen as the best option.
However, heating your home during the colder months can be one of the biggest household expenses. Therefore, finding the most energy efficient and cost effective system is important.
Is gas heating actually more comfortable than electric heating, as many people claim? Does a gas heater truly lessen your household’s carbon footprint?
Let’s examine the difference between residential gas heating and electric heating systems to find the best option for you.
What’s the Difference Between Electric and Gas Heating?
There are a number of differences between the use of natural gas or LPG (liquid petroleum gas) and electricity for heating. Let’s take a closer look at both of them.
A heater is fuelled by a gas source and the flow of gas is controlled through a valve. The heat is ignited through an electric filament or a pilot light. Heat can be distributed throughout a home using ducts and vents in a ducted system, or individual gas heating units can be used for certain rooms.
Indoor gas units are usually flued. This ensures that any combustion products, such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, are dispersed outside the home. The main types of gas heaters and heating systems are:
- Gas log fires: These are like traditional fireplaces but upgraded by using gas for instant ignition. They are available as free-standing features or can be built-in like a fireplace.
- Hydronic heating: Water is heated by a gas boiler or furnace and the hot water passes through pipes that have been installed in the walls or underneath the floors of the house. The heated water can be used to heat different rooms or even the floor of your bathroom.
- Gas ducted heating: Ducted gas heaters warm up the entire home. The central unit is installed either outside the home or within the roof cavity. Ducts allow the gas-fuelled heat to flow to the desired rooms through vents. This is also known as central heating.
- Space heaters: These energy efficient heaters are usually mounted on walls and the heat is released through vents. Toxic products of gas heating are vented outside by a flue. There are portable gas space heaters available, but these are often unflued gas heaters. Flued units are recommended for safety.
- Wall furnaces: Slim, vertical gas furnace heaters are attached to walls and can heat larger areas than space heaters.
Whatever you choose, make sure you select the best gas heater for your situation.
Electric heaters work in various ways depending on the type of unit. Here’s a brief look at several of the most popular types:
- Reverse cycle air conditioning: These types of split systems can heat or cool the home. It can be used for a single unit, multiple units or in a ducted system. For heating, the reverse cycle system extracts heat from outside air and draws it inside. When the system is switched to heat, refrigerant gas is passed through an external coil, which absorbs heat from the outdoors. This is then pumped down onto a condenser. As the refrigerant is compressed, it warms up. The hot air is then pumped out by a fan into the room(s) through vents.
- Electric heat pump: A heat pump system’s outside unit absorbs heat from outside the home. The inside unit contains a coil and a fan. The coil acts as a condenser when in heating mode. The fan moves air across the coil and throughout the ducts in the home, which is then released through vents. These systems work best in dryer, warmer climates.
- Portable electric heaters: These heaters are simple to use and are best for heating a small room or specific small area. Types include radiant heaters, convection and panel heaters, fan heaters and infrared heaters.
The Pros of Gas Heating
There are many advantages to having gas heating but there are downsides too. Here are the pros of gas heating:
- Energy efficiency: Gas is more energy efficient than electricity, which results in lower power bills.
- No blackouts: Your gas supply will never be interrupted by power failure, keeping you warm when the lights go out.
- Better for the environment: Although it is a fossil fuel, natural gas produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than most other energy sources (75% less than electrical heating).
- Immediate heat: Ducted gas heating is the most effective way to heat your home quickly. When it’s freezing outside, you won’t be waiting long for your home to be toasty and warm.
- Easier to install and maintain: This is mainly due to having fewer moving parts and no refrigerant re-gassing issues.
The Cons of Gas Heating
As with any form of climate control in the home, there are some downsides to gas heating. Here are some of the cons:
- Availability: Natural gas is not available in all areas. While it is widely available, your home may not be set up for it so there will be installation costs.
- It’s a fossil fuel: Natural gas is not a renewable resource and does emit greenhouse gases, even if it is much cleaner than electricity.
- There are dangers: Most gas heating systems are perfectly safe, but it’s important to keep them well maintained to avoid gas leaks and carbon monoxide leaks, both of which can be fatal. Make sure your system is installed by a professional gas fitter. Be wary of using an unflued gas heater.
- Heating only: You can’t cool your home with a gas heating system as you can with a reverse cycle air conditioner.
Are Gas Heaters More Comfy Than Electric?
Comfort is purely subjective so it’s difficult to quantify which type of system and power source is the most comfortable. Many factors have to be considered, including the size of the room and where vents or the heater are located. Household insulation, carpeting and airflow will all impact comfort levels, too.
Because gas systems run independently to outdoor conditions, rooms are heated more quickly. There’s also often a more consistent stream of warm air. This is because many gas log fires provide heated air above average body temperature, while air from an electric-powered system often fluctuates to maintain a set temperature. Ducted gas heating provides a charming balance of the two.
In conclusion, gas heating is typically more energy efficient, eco-friendly, consistent, and cheaper to run than electric heating systems. However, make sure you get your gas heater serviced regularly for potential gas leaks or carbon monoxide leaks.
When all’s said and done, it’s hard to ignore gas heating as the best option to keep your home warm and cosy.
Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.