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

Wondering if electric is 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)

With energy prices still high, is electric cheaper than gas or is it the other way round? It's an important question to ask. Knowing which type of fuel is cheaper to use can help you make informed decisions about how to heat your home and cook your meals. Armed with the right information, you can make choices that will help you reduce your energy bills

Energy bills are at an all-time high at the moment despite the government’s Energy Price Guarantee, and millions of families continue to worry about how much their energy bills will cost.’s Money Editor Sarah Handley says: “With families paying more than ever before for the energy they use, it’s never been more important to pay attention to how much energy we use, the type of energy we use and how much we pay for it. Only by better understanding our usage can we make steps to reduce it, and keep our bills as low as possible.”

Is electric cheaper than gas?

Right now, electric is not cheaper than gas. In fact, if you look at the unit cost, gas is quite a bit 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. 

Personal finance expert Sarah Coles from asset management company Hargreaves Lansdown, says: “Our gas bills tend to be higher than our electricity bills, but that doesn’t mean electricity is cheaper. In fact, per unit, it’s much more expensive. Our gas bills tend to be pricier because we use more of it: we use gas to heat our homes – and, in many cases, we use it to cook too.

Danni Hewson, financial analyst at investment company AJ Bell, adds: “Figuring out how to keep your energy bills as low as you possibly can isn’t always straightforward, and each household will be different. 

“Though gas is cheaper per kilowatt hour than electricity, many electrical appliances are more efficient. And let’s be honest most of us aren’t in a position to change our boiler or our cooker unless they break down, so we just need to use what we have in the most cost-effective way possible.”

Why is electricity more expensive than gas?

There are a couple of reasons electricity is more expensive than gas. 

  • The price of electricity is linked to the price of gas, so when the price of gas goes up, then so does the price of electricity. 
  • Plus, there are a number of taxes put on UK energy companies, which get passed on to customers too. 

How much we pay for electricity is directly related to how much we pay for gas, as the UK generates around a third of its electricity from burning natural gas. The price of wholesale gas has increased over the past year, and so electricity costs have gone up too.

Wind turbines are a source of renewable energy

One example of renewable energy is that generated using wind turbines

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Meanwhile UK energy companies are under pressure from the government to use more power from cleaner, greener sources to combat climate change. But generating energy from renewable sources, like wind turbines or solar panels, is up to three times more expensive than generating it using coal-fired power stations. So energy companies pass these additional costs on to electricity customers.

There are also various green and social taxes put on UK energy companies. These taxes are used to fund environmental policies like renewable energy and energy efficiency. Customers pay for these via their electricity bills too.

According to 2022 calculations by the energy regulator Ofgem, green taxes represent about nine to 12% of electricity bills. These make electricity more expensive per unit than gas. 

UK electricity customers also pay higher prices to cover social schemes such as the Warm Home Discount scheme which helps low income households with heating costs, and schemes offering cheap or free insulation to households.

toddler child looking at oven while food cooks

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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 one. 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 as they either have a lower wattage or take less time to cook things, or both.

“Cooking can be a big energy user depending on what you’re cooking and how long that oven or hob is left on. A roast chicken just isn’t a roast chicken if you try and cook the entire thing in the microwave, but if you can batch cook several meals at a time and then heat them up in the microwave the savings can rapidly mount up,” say financial analyst Danni Hewson.

“Then there’s this year’s must have item – the air fryer. Whilst not as energy efficient as the humble microwave, it can by-pass the need for an oven altogether. And if you’re about to flick the kettle on, have a shake, how much water are you about to boil? Just heating what you need will make a big difference over the year.”

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. 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 gas boiler and central heating system in the average two or three-bedroom, semi-detached home for eight hours is about £28.80 per day, according to calculations by Housetastic. But the cost to use electric heating for the same amount of time is about £33.28. 

On the flip side, installing a gas boiler and central heating system if you don’t have one will cost several thousand pounds.  

Which is cheaper when just heating a single room?

 When it comes to the cheapest way to heat a room, 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 mis-lead by some of the heating myths 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, unless you are one of the minority of households that is on a time-of-use tariff. 

Emma Lunn
Personal finance expert

Emma Lunn is a multi-award-winning journalist who specialises in personal finance and consumer issues. With more than 18 years of experience in personal finance, Emma has covered topics including all aspects of energy - from the energy price cap to prepayment meter tricks, as well as mortgages, banking, debt, budgeting, broadband, pensions and investments. Emma’s one of the most prolific freelance personal finance journalists with a back catalogue of work in newspapers such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, the Mail on Sunday and the Mirror.

With contributions from