Sep 20

Electricity can be cheaper than gas!

Those of us that use anything electric these days can attest to the fact that electricity rates are climbing at an alarming rate.  Our washers, clothes dryers and dishwashers, to name a few, are under continuous scrutiny in our daily battle to keep electric consumption costs as low as possible.

In my household, I am constantly checking that the air conditioning is not set too low, or that the clothes dryer is not ‘over-drying’, or when we use the oven for cooking we prepare enough for leftovers or even a different meal altogether just to double-up and take advantage of the oven being on.

Some government jurisdictions are now using time-of-use electric rates so that we as gluttonous consumers are punished for untimely conveniences. Yes, if you use electricity when everybody else is using electricity you will pay more.  Well, all is not doom and gloom because there is a reward if we choose to consume at low use times.  These times tend to be when business are closed and when air conditioners are not operating at maximum capacity during the high daytime temperatures of summer.  Basically, that means if you strategically use your appliances during off-peak or low ‘rate’ times you can actually reduce your electricity bills.  For example, in Ontario, Canada, if you dry your clothes after 7pm or on weekends you can save about 40% in electricity costs.  It requires a lifestyle change but so what?!?  It’s about time I say.  What difference does it make if you turn on your dishwasher at 7pm rather than at 6pm?

And then there is the high cost of gas or propane.  Yes, that’s correct.  Believe it or not it can be cheaper to use an electric appliance over gas or propane.  Using an electric grill, for example, is a great way to save money over using a gas or liquid propane grill.  Gas and propane grills are design to provide exorbitant amounts of heat, however, there is almost no consideration in the design of these grills for efficiency.  You’ve probably noticed the number of cracks or holes around a gas grill that allows heat to escape.  In fact, a gas grill uses a very small portion of the energy it releases to cook your food.  Most of the heat is lost to its surroundings.

What does that mean to your overall cost to operate?

Well, let’s take a look at the cost of a typical 20lb liquid propane tank.  In these parts you can expect to pay about $15 and that doesn’t include the drive to the propane depot.  How many uses do you get from a  tank before it’s time for a refill?  20?  30?  Even if you get as many as 40 uses from one tank (assume one hour per use), that works out to $0.375 per use.  Now, let’s take a look at an electric grill.  The PowerChef electric grill, for example, uses a patent pending design that efficiency transfers the heat of the cooking elements into your food.  You place your food directly onto these elements so that there is very little heat lost.  The cooking times are comparable to a gas or propane grill and even if you grill during the ‘peak’ rate times you will save.  The PowerChef uses 1.6kW of power and with the highest rate in Ontario being $0.107/kWh you will spend only $0.17 per hour.  That’s less than half the cost of using propane.  The savings are even greater if you’re grilling on the weekends or in the evenings.

Whether it’s electricity, gas, propane or some other source of energy, we are living in a new world where energy is king and consumers must shop wisely.  Think ahead and plan the best time to use your electric appliance and consider the energy source that best suits you.  You may be surprised at how much you can save, money wise and environmentally.

About the Author

VictorH

has written 1 blog posts

I am the Engineering Manager for the barbecue division of Dimplex North America Ltd. I am responsible for the design and engineering leadership for electric barbecues.

Comments (3)

  • Claude on November 25th, 2012 at 10:41pm

    I have an older home that I’m renovation . I want to upgrade the heating system. The only choice I have is propane or electricity….What do do recommend to heat my house… I could install duct work if required since I’m gutting the basement. I need AC also
    PLease let me know
    Thanks
    Claude

    • Karyn on November 30th, 2012 at 7:32pm

      Hi Claude

      Thank you for your question regarding home heating, we first recommend that you perform a fuel cost comparison in your area so you can see how the cost of electricity will compare to propane, here is a link to a fuel cost comparison chart that will give you an adjusted cost per BTU http://www.eia.gov/neic/experts/heatcalc.xls. If after the cost comparison is complete and the calculations for your area support the use of heating your home by electricity, then you have a couple of options, either a ducted central electric furnace or a zone heating option such as a full Dimplex LPC system. The following are the pros and cons of a central furnace versus an LPC system:

      Central Furnace
      Pro’s
      - Utilizes existing duct work (assuming you have some ducts already)
      - You don’t have to run wires to each individual room
      Con’s
      - No ability to zone heat (directing to where you use it the most)
      - High-efficiency furnaces are expensive

      LPC System
      Pro’s
      - LPC’s use built-in electronic thermostats with proportional output to precisely match each rooms’ heating needs
      - LPC’s provide zone heating so you can keep high occupancy rooms warmer than those that are used less
      - LPC heaters are designed for use with the Multi-zone Programmable CONNEX Controller, which can be synchronized for wireless control of all LPC heaters in your house. It also automatically lower temperatures at night to help save additional energy cost.
      Con’s
      - Wiring needs to be run to each room in the house, which may be easy or difficult depending on how extensive your home renovation will be. Regardless, it will cost more to run wiring to multiple LPC’s than a single central furnace.

      If you would like more information about the LPC product line, here is a link to the product detail page of our website http://dimplex.com/en/home_heating/linear_convector_baseboards

      Good luck with the renovations!

  • Smith robin on September 18th, 2013 at 8:04pm

    Agreed with your question that electricity is cheaper than gas but in some countries this is directly opposite. Gas is cheaper than electricity…. but the information is good.
    Heating and Cooling Toronto

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