Is electric cheaper than gas and which is cheaper for cooking and heating?

Wondering is electric cheaper than gas? Our energy expert explains all you need to know

Smart meter on kitchen counter showing the price of gas and electric
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're wondering is electric cheaper than gas, you're not alone. You might ask yourself this when making decisions about how to heat your home or cook your meals, especially as energy prices are so high right now, even in spite of the Energy Price Guarantee (opens in new tab), and millions of families are worried about how much their energy bills will cost (opens in new tab).

If your home has both an electricity and gas supply, it's important to know if electric is cheaper than gas so you can have a good sense of how much your most often-used appliances will cost you to run. 

Energy expert Paul Newman at reviews website Housetastic.co.uk (opens in new tab), says: “Since the sudden rise in cost of living and energy prices, it’s essential we stay in the loop with our daily energy usages and costs. With the drastic increase in groceries, home items, energy, petrol and rent, many families will fall short with finances this winter, struggling to heat their homes and keep on top of bills. Staying up to date with the current costs ensures we save those important pennies, helping us to stay afloat in an extortionate climate.”

Is electric cheaper than gas?

Right now electric is not cheaper than gas - in fact, if you look at the unit cost, gas is cheaper than electricity. The typical cost per unit under the Energy Price Guarantee is 10.33p per kiloWatt hour (kWh) for gas and 34.04p per kWh for electricity.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that using gas will be the cheapest option for everything. That will depend on how much gas or electricity you use. 

The government’s Energy Price Guarantee is usually expressed as the maximum amount a typical household will spend on energy per year. The guarantee stands at £2,500, and applies from 1 October 2022 until the end of March 2023. However, the guarantee actually caps unit costs and standing charges for gas and electricity. This means that if you use more energy than the 'typical' household, you'll easily end up paying more than the £2,500 per year for your energy.

Rates vary around the country, but the average rate is 10.33p per kWh of gas, with a standing charge of 28.49p per day, and 34.04p per kWh of electricity, with a standing charge of 46.36p per day.

But from April 2023, while the Energy Price Guarantee will remain in place for an additional 12 months, the typical annual bill will rise to £3,000 from £2,500.

Is it cheaper to cook with electric or gas?

If you mainly use an oven to cook, a gas oven is cheaper to run than an electric oven.

A typical electric oven uses about 3,000W of power. At current energy prices, it costs about £1.02 an hour to run. The average gas oven uses roughly 1,540W of power, meaning it costs about 16p an hour to run.

However, most people don’t solely use an oven to cook all their meals. Many households also have microwaves, air-fryers, and slow cookers, as alternatives. Although these appliances use electricity, they are much cheaper to run than a gas oven or hob.

  • When we look at how much it costs to run a microwave (opens in new tab), microwaves are a lot cheaper to run than ovens because they only heat your food, rather than the air too, and do so quickly. 
  • An air fryer is also cheaper to run than a conventional oven. Not only do air fryers use less energy, but they can also cook food quicker. Find out more in our guide to how much it costs to run an air fryer (opens in new tab).
  • Slow cookers cook food for a long time but use very little power, so they also work out more cost effective than using an oven. Read our guide on how much it costs to run a slow cooker (opens in new tab).

Head of product sustainability at Magnet, Amanda Douglas-Slater (opens in new tab), says: “The kitchen is a hotspot of energy consumption in a household, with cooking typically accounting for 13.8% of energy demand in UK homes. Therefore, making changes in your cooking habits can be the starting point to seeing a significant reduction in your energy bills. 

“You don’t have to completely remove certain cooking methods. It’s more about being aware of the most efficient and cheapest ways of doing things in the kitchen to help limit unnecessary energy waste, which amounts to savings over time.’’ 

Is it cheaper to heat your home with gas or electric?

Whether it's cheaper to heat your home with gas or electric will ultimately depend on multiple factors, including the type of heating system you have. How you heat your home will depend on whether you are connected to a mains gas supply and the type of central heating system you already have in place. 

“The estimated cost for running a boiler system (gas heating) in your average two to three-bedroom, semi-detached home for eight hours is around £28.80 per day,” says Paul Newman from Housetastic, “Whereas, the cost to use electric heating for the same amount of time is estimated at around £33.28. The maintenance required with gas heating is around £80 to £120 per boiler service, whereas electric heating requires little to no maintenance.”

Although, in general, gas heating is cheaper to run, there are some alternative ways to heat your home using electricity that can sometimes work out cost effective.

Managing director of Northwest Heating Solutions (opens in new tab), David Lukeman, says: “Modern electric heating solutions are considered to be 100% energy efficient, unlike their gas counterparts. When a modern electric heating solution is used in conjunction with self-generated renewable energy or an off-peak tariff and smart controls, it can be cheaper to run than a gas system – and can be much kinder to the planet.”

Which is cheaper when just heating a single room?

When it comes to the cheapest way to heat a room (opens in new tab), using a gas central heating system (and turning radiators off in rooms you aren't in) will work out cheaper than using an electric heater to keep warm

When heating your home, it’s important not to be mislead by some of the heating myths (opens in new tab) that are doing the rounds but are not actually true. For example, it won’t be cheaper to leave your central heating on low all day. Instead, you should program your heating to just come on when you need it.  It’s also not cheaper to use electricity at night (opens in new tab), unless you are one of the minority of households that is on a time-of-use tariff.

What can you do to keep energy costs down? 

Whether you use electricity or gas to cook and heat your home, there are many ways you can learn how to save energy at home (opens in new tab) and reduce your household bills.

If you are buying new appliances such as washing machines or televisions, look for ones that are the most energy efficient. Appliances are rated A to G for energy efficiency, with A the most efficient.

When using dishwashers and washing machines, wait until you have a full load before using your machine. Avoid using your tumble dryer where possible – drying your clothes outside in summer won’t cost you a penny. Check out our guide to the cheapest way to dry clothes (opens in new tab) and how to dry clothes without a dryer (opens in new tab) for top tips on reducing how often you use your tumble dryer. 

You can also save energy by not leaving appliances and gadgets on standby. Smart plugs (opens in new tab) can help you reduce your energy use as you can turn them off remotely using a smartphone app. 

When it comes to heating, consider turning down the thermostat a degree or two and make sure you only program your heating to come on when you’re actually at home. Bleed your radiators to get rid of trapped air and consider putting radiator reflectors between the radiator and the wall to reflect heat back into the room. You can also check out these money-saving gadgets and gizmos (opens in new tab) that can help you save money on your household bills.