Green Building Community

"Gas vs Electricity" Misperceptions Still Tipping the Scales?

Posted by: SawHorse, Inc. // SawHorse Design + Build

Gas VS Electric for cooking

Many Americans Still Think All-Electric means sacrificing performance.


As an owner of a premium [design + build] firm, I get asked which products are best for my client's house based on performance, efficiency, price, and safety.   I've done the research, and I share it with my clients and also on my blog and YouTube channel.  You may have also seen some of the videos I've created for Rate It Green members to showcase their products and services.

Usually, with my clients, performance wins because we are creatures of comfort.  I doubt anyone is willing to live in an uncomfortable house or take a cold shower in the name of efficiency.   This main issue is that today's decisions are being made based on misperceptions from 20+ years ago.


Misperceptions for all-electric are based on past performance.

A couple of categories are still somewhat controversial when it comes to which products perform the best.  For years electrical appliances were not quite there as far as performance was concerned.  Electric water heaters did not heat as fast, standard heat pumps didn't work well in extreme temperatures, and electric ranges were not considered high-end.  If you have a house built in 1980 with all original appliances, then we feel your pain.  40 years have passed, and the technology has improved to the point that all-electric actually performs better than the gas equivalent in most categories!

A recent survey conducted by the NAHB showed that gas is still very popular in many markets.  There were even comments on the post stating that "We find that if natural gas is available, it is the hands-down choice for space heating..."  

Comments on LinkedIn in response to this survey prompted me to create this discussion to share with others.  Thanks to green real estate agent Christopher Matos-Rogers for pointing this out to me.


Gas vs. Electric Space Heating

If you compare a standard code ready heat pump to a natural gas furnace, I would have to agree with this misperception.  However, that is not a fair comparison since there are heat pumps on the market that are twice, yes, 2 TIMES as efficient as the entry-level heat pump.  These are very common in all markets, and the extra cost to install is worth the energy savings most of the time.  Ground Source Heat Pumps and Mini-splits are available in most climate zones in the US.  These outperform their standard heat pump and natural gas barely code-compliant options.


Gas vs. Electric Water Heating

I typically recommend electricity based on the safety of NOT having natural gas combustion within the house.  One of the potential by-products of natural gas combustion is Carbon Monoxide, which is a silent killer.  Lucky for me, I don't have to worry about the electric water heaters not performing as well.  Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heaters are a great way to heat water efficiently, and so are de-superheaters from ground source heat pumps.


Gas vs. Electric (Induction) Cooking

I have a great example where education is key to helping people understand the difference between gas and electricity.  Most people would choose gas for cooking if they did not know better options on the market.  I created a blog post and video on cooking options and posted this on LinkedIn with a poll.  I was surprised to see that the majority of the people were willing to go with electric induction cooking AFTER they were presented with the facts. 


My GAS VS Electric Conclusion

Gas is so 1999...  We have to think differently in 2021.  This even applies to electric lawn and garden equipment.

If you go with entry-level electric appliances not designed for performance, then natural gas could perform better.  I don't see why "good enough" appliances are even considered in mid to high-end homes, yet I see it all of the time.  The impacts of natural gas on the environment are well documented.  If that is not a concern to you, think about your immediate impact and your family.  Combustion inside your home is not safe as it could start a fire or create chemistry in your home that could lead to illness or even death in extreme cases.

The only way for more people to understand the benefits of modern electric appliances is through education and awareness.  Feel free to make comments below whether you agree or disagree with my arguments.  Also- share this discussion with others that you think could benefit from the misperception that all-electric is bad.

To help consumers, builders and architects understand these concepts better, we created a green virtual learning house that will take you through the design-build journey at each phase of the process.  One of the certifications that we will be getting on this house is Passive House.  This standard requires that we don't use any open combustion appliances or fireplaces, so we have to go all-electric to get the certification.


The Rate It Green Team has created a long list of "additional reading" for you to enjoy:

Rate It Green's Newsletter on Electrification 

Rate It Green's Newsletter on Electrification of Lawn and Garden Care

Articles and Discussions about Electrification:

Building Electrification 101: Why it Matters to Your Wallet, Health, Comfort, and the Environment

Residential Decarbonization – Influencing Consumer Demand Before Inflection/Decision Making Points is Key

Reducing the Natural Gas “Bridge,” for Human and Environmental Health

Heat Pumps - Energy Efficient and Cost-Effective Heating & Cooling Solutions

Going Electric for Heating and Cooling, and Water Heating, in a Residential Retrofit - #1920sMakeoverATL (Video)

Articles and Discussions about Electric Lawn and Garden Care:

Thanks to George Carrette of EcoQuiet Lawn Care and our friends at Husqvarna and Makita, we're thrilled to share information about making the switch to electric landscaping. These folks have shared expertise on topics including: 

Electric Lawn and Garden Equipment - A Revolution in the Making
Electric Landscaping 101

Why Landscaping Companies Should Consider Going Electric

Six Ways to Prep Your Yard for Electric Landscaping

Leaf Blower Bans and Other Noise Pollution Limits

Exploring the Environmental, Health, and Community Benefits of Electric Lawn and Garden Equipment












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