Gas vs. Electric: Which Apartment Appliance Is Cheaper to Use?

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Gas vs. Electric: Which Apartment Appliance Is Cheaper to Use?

Daphne Mallory · Oct 11, 2010

When searching for apartments, you may question whether gas or electric appliances are cheaper. New houses are being constructed with gas appliances more and more, making it seem as if the answer to the question is definitive: Gas. It’s not that simple though. Gas in one region may cost twice as much as gas in another area, which would make an electric appliance cheaper to run. Here are some guidelines for figuring out which is best based on where you live:

BTUs vs. KWH

When you get your electric bill, you’ll see that the amount that you use is quantified as kilowatt hours (KWHs). In exchange for electrical service, you pay a certain price, often cents, per KWHs. The more electricity you use, the higher your bill. The same is true for gas. Instead of KWHs, you’re charged per British thermal units (BTUs). What you have to do is figure out the rates in your area. The suppliers or utility companies often list prices on their websites, or you can call and ask customer service what the rates are. Then, ask them what the usage was for the previous year for the apartment location you’re interested in. If they don’t have that information, or won’t give it to you, then estimate costs based on your bills. Compare which is cheaper based on the rates and usage information that you research.

Mixed Use

Keep in mind that some of your gas appliances need electricity to run. For example, in order to use a gas burner, you may need to plug the stove into an electrical outlet. You can’t use the appliance otherwise, and you have to pay for the electricity you use. If the costs per BTUs are much lower than the costs per KWHs, then using the gas burner would still be cheaper than using an electric burner. It depends on the rates per BTUs and KWHs.

Ovens

You may be wondering if gas or electric ovens are cheaper. In most cases, an electric oven is much cheaper. In addition to the cost of gas to operate the oven, there’s often the cost of electricity to run the oven. Even if electricity was not required, gas ovens still usually cost slightly more.

Dryers

When you consider the cost per load to use a dryer, the difference between a gas or electric dryer is not significant. Often, the difference is only a few pennies. Gas dryers need electricity to use, which adds to the total bill as well.

Hazards

A major issue that can’t be ignored in the discussion of whether gas or electric is cheaper, is the health and safety risks. Gas produces byproducts that can lead to respiratory problems. Gas can also lead to an explosion in your apartment. The savings you’ll get for using gas may not be worth it if your health or safety is at risk.

Landlords are also a great resource to ask whether gas or electric is cheaper in the apartment they have for rent. They may have lived in the apartment, or paid previous utility bills for other tenants as part of a lease agreement.

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