Gas or Electric? (Cost Comparisions)


Old 09-28-05, 08:20 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Livonia, Michigan
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Dryer - Gas or Electric?

The price of natural gas is going through the roof! Is it still cheaper to use gas over electric? Does anybody have some formula or equivalency (kW elec vs cu ft gas) I can use? That way I can plug in our local rates and figure out which is cheaper.
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Old 09-30-05, 06:31 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: CA
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I don't know about your area. But here ( So. Calif.) most of the electric plants burn natural gas! So we are screwed both ways!

Our electric costs about 16 cents per kwh, and gas is about $1.15 per therm. At these rates, cooking, water heating, etc. is MUCH less expensive on gas than on electric.
Old 09-30-05, 08:13 AM
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Location: Livonia, Michigan
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That is surprising, because I'm familiar with California's energy production (I've lived there), and a lot of California's electric energy (PG&E) comes from hydroelectric and geothermal energy, making it one of the cheaper electricity producers in the nation.
Old 10-01-05, 10:13 AM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
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To convert a WATT into British Thermal Unit per hour (BTU/hr.) You mulitply the wattage by 3.412 Example; A 1,500 watt heater equals, 1500 x 3.412 = 5118 BTU/hr.

Gas on the other hand is measured by THERMS which is equal to 100,000 BTU/hr. Because different types of natural gas will produce varying amounts of BTU/hr. the amount of BTU/hr. in each cubic foot of gas varies. The utilities by law must provide their customers a conversion factor on their bills. You will notice on a gas bill that you get billed for cubic feet and that gets mulitplied by a conversion factor which translate that into THERMS. That MUST be on all gas bills. Otherwise a utility could pump air into their gas lines and you would be paying for that air. It takes approximately 15 cubic feet of air to burn one cubic foot of gas completely. Unfortunately for the utilities, we all have plenty of air in our homes to burn the gas and we don't need to buy air from them to do it. This is why a cubic foot of gas is converted into THERMS for you on your bill.

Do I ever recommend conversion from one fuel to another - NO! The reason for this is that conversion does not reduce your consumption. And your consumption is the largest factor concerning the amount you are paying. In other words, take the money you intended to invest in conversion and invest it in the house that will effectively reduce your consumption without affecting your present comfort levels.
Old 10-01-05, 11:48 AM
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Location: Livonia, Michigan
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Conversion of units is not a problem for me - I'm a trained engineer and PE. Conversion of appliances is also not an issue. I have both a gas dryer and an electric dryer in my basement. Plus, an answer to my question would be of interest to anybody looking to buy a new unit because their old one conked out or if they are starting a homestead.

I'm curious what practical experience says about using gas versus electric. I'm assuming one may dry clothes differently from the other, i.e., use a different amount of equivalent BTUs.

I suppose if we already reached the crossover point, and electric was indeed cheaper, the electric utilities would make a lot of noise about this fact.
Old 10-01-05, 10:00 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
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Practical applications???

In my experience:

Gas dryers dry faster than electric
Gas hot waters rejuvenate faster than electric
Gas stoves are easier to make tiny adjustments on (ever see an electric range in a restaurant) - get hotter faster and cool down quicker..
Gas heating systems heat faster...

You can imagine my dismay the one time I bought an all electric home.....
Old 10-02-05, 06:09 AM
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Because the question is often asked and will likely be based on current nat gas prices, I offer the brief explaination below.

Energy costs will continue to rise. Both gas and electric. So the factors that can be used to determine which energy source to use is not the only factor.

Engines that power the generators to produce electric power use natural gas as a fuel source because it is clean burning, easily available and already being used in most areas, among other reasons. So the consumer is already paying the natural gas fuel costs to produce the electric power.

Basically, which fuel to use is a choice only the end user can make based upon individual needs, circumstances, conditions and other varied factors.

Natural gas is still fairly priced by comparisions and the costs are likely to be reduced as supplies return to normal. High price presently, do to storm factors, limited supplies and high demand. Lower final cost to the end user (customer) when supply meets demands. Likely to return to former prices and costs (excluding normal increases) in any specific area of the nation and/or country, etc.

Simply a matter of time, until supplies meet and/or exceed demands. Colder winter weather ahead will cause costs to remain high while supplies try to kep up with demands. Same applies to fuel oils used for home and/or space heating. Same applies to gasoline. Supply and demand are major factors which dictate prices.

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Old 10-02-05, 09:10 AM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
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I personally refrain from giving out equations because most people do not know where and how to obtain the values to plug into the equation. However, since you are a PE, you can talk to a PE at the utility who can easily pull out those values from their systems.


The heater's input is often measured by clocking the gas meter. All other gas appliances must be off. Count the revolutions of 1/2, 1, or 2 cubic foot dials on the gas meter in 60 seconds and convert to cubic feet per minute.

I = F * Q * 60

I = is the heater's input in BTU/hr.

F = is the gas flow rate in cubic feet per minute.

Q = is the energy content of local gas, usually 850 - 1100 Btus/cu.ft.

60 is the number of minutes per hour.


Count the time required for the electric meter's dial to make 10 revolutions. Make sure all other electric loads are off. For multiple-stage appliances repeat this procedure for each stage.

I = 36 * kh * CTR * PTR/t

I = appliance input in kW.

kh = is the meter constant.

CTR = is the meter current transformer ratio.

PTR = is the meter's potential transformer ratio.

t = is the time requuired for the electric meter's dial to make 10 revolutions

Note : the values of kh, CTR and PTR may be indicated on the meter or obtained from the utility.
Old 11-29-05, 03:33 PM
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Energy evaluations while designing house

I am building a log home and have been researching every aspect of building in order to find a balance between energy efficiency, initial costs, long term costs, and comfort levels. This topic discussion and discussions in some of the other topic areas are helping me formulate a plan for our energy usages. Part of the practical side is an examination of the return on cost. The return on cost can be roughly figured by the type of appliance and fuel use but I keep wondering if there is a good way to do a whole house energy analysis based on type of construction, style of construction, selection of construction materials, selection of HVAC systems, and use of energy sources. I know some people in the various discussions have mentioned energy evaluations but those only seem to be based on a physical, already completed, structure. Is there anyway to do it based during the planning stage?
Old 11-29-05, 07:14 PM
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The site above has the answers you are looking for.
Old 11-29-05, 08:09 PM
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Thumbs up thank you

great website--thank you

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