Gas or Electric?

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I realize that the cost differences are regional, and it's up to me to call up the local utilities and find out what the going rates are. *however*, there are some things that may preclude cost, and implementation matters too.
Might be buying a house that has a gas waterheater and a gas boiler/baseboard system. Both appear to be fairly new- i.e. 5 years maybe. The water heater is fine- if it ain't broke don't fix it. However-
1) Would it be best to heat the house with the gas boiler, or would it be best to shut it down completely and heat with small electric space heaters? The house is bi-level, very open, about 1100 sq feet, no basement, approximately 20 years old. This is South Central Wisconsin, and we have real winters here (i.e. sustained temperatures between 8-20F for weeks at a time). Can you just "turn off" modern gas boilers- i.e. no pilot light or anything?
2) We will need to buy a stove for the house. I prefer cooking on gas. The Missus prefers electric. Looks like they cost about the same, and when you sit down to eat the end result is the same. In the long run, which might be a better choice?
3) We will need to buy a washer/dryer pair for the house. Once again- gas dryer or electric? I have no opinion on this, personally. I think the hookup is currently electric, but we may relocate them anyways. Are the over/under combo units still inherently evil?
4) I like beer. Beer gives me gas. The Missus threatens to buy an electric cattle prod to punish me for my efforts. Which will win- gas or electric?
Is gas considered enough of a hazard to where it's best to avoid it if at all possible? Can multiple electric appliances require an update of the fuse panel to something higher (i.e. from 100 or 130 to 200A)?
Thanks for any replies.
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No. I repeat. NO. In case you missed it NO, don't do it.

Yes, bu t you need t ofr h eat. In the summer, you can turn it off, pilot and all if it has one. YOu do't want to turn it off and on every day in mild weather though, as the repeated heating and cooling put stress on the internal components.

Who does the majority of the cooking? We ditched electric and went to propane becuase we really disliked electric cooking. YMMV. Gas is more responsive, and you can toast marshmallow too!

In most cases, electric is still more expensive. I'd go with gas if I had the option. Check local rates. Gas installation may cost more though.

Use a lighter and help heat the house. Wife can't complain on a cold day.

Every year a house or two blows up from gas. Every year year many people are killed by electric. I don't see any hazzard if proper use of the appliances and general common sense are used.
Can multiple electric appliances require an update of

100A should get you by unless you go to electric heat or perhaps central AC.
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phaeton wrote:

Define best! Chances are you want the least expensive to operate with quality results. Both produce quality results and in about 95% of North America where gas is available, gas, even after the latest increases is still the least expensive by a large margin. On exception to that rule are warm areas of the US where heat pumps become practical most of the year.

Get what she wants, unless you do most of the cooking. Gas will likely be cheaper, but not enough to worry about. Cooking is a small portion of the total.

Electric is almost always cheaper to buy and more expensive to use. I chose gas. In most cases the difference in cost will make gas the best choice.

Gas is not a safety hazard. Look at all the homes around the world using it. How often do you hear of a house burning down because of a gas failure and how often do you hear of one burning down because of a wiring problem. If it was a problem the insurance companies would charge you a big premium.

--
Joseph Meehan

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Edwin Pawlowski said:

Don't do which? And why?

I see. Once again the location is up for grabs, so that might dictate what we eventually end up with. It's just the two of us so it's not like we will be doing 750 loads of laundry each week.

I'm actually more concerned with Carbon Monoxide than with the gas leak itself- typically you know when you have a gas leak. With a C0 leak you just lay down for a nap and don't wake up.
Btw, if I were to shut off the boiler I would leave it off- i understand that heating/cooling constantly will wear it out.
Thx!
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Electric space heaters will end up costing you a fortune.

Again, not a big deal. Every house should have a CO detecor or two anyway. Not just gas, but any burning fuel.
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phaeton wrote:

Location is not the determinate. In virtually every area where natural gas is available, it is cheaper than electric.

Don't lose sleep over it. CO posioning occurs when people run charcoal fires indoors.
I grew up in a house that had natural gas space heaters. They've got to be WAY out of adjustment to generate carbon monoxide.
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I don't know about virtually, but a mile down the road from me is a different utility. The electric price they offer is cheaper than natural gas so don't assume it will be! Greg
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Some boilers are pilotless, I sure wish they would do the same for hot water heaters. Just why do you want to turn off the pilot in the winter time? Every gas appliance I have seen has a local shut off valve.
http://www.hvacopcost.com /
http://www.wapa.gov/es/calc.htm

Gas ranges are always a few dollars more. Beats me. I prefer gas, mom like electricity. I get the ones that are self cleaning as well. Long run? what an open question? Cost of fuel, how much do you use the appliance?

Gas dryer is the only way to fly, IMO. Better check the plug before you buy an electric unit. Most older homes are 3 prong. New code has 4 prong. Not to worry there should be instructions on how to convert the dryer to the 3 pronged plug. Again how much do you use it?

Conversion from gas to electric could drive you to a larger service. Sorry it goes 100 amps, 200 amps then 400. I have not seen a 150 in a long time so they might still be out there. The cost of the service and circuits could run thousands of dollars.

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1. Gas boiler, not counting anything really bizarre with local utility rates.
2. There's something better about food cooked over fire. Keeping the woman happy is likely more important.
3. People I've known with gas dryers love them. Over/under washer-dryers are nice, but what about when 1/2 breaks beyond repair?
4. Perhaps you've found a renewable form of energy. You drink beer and produce methane. Wife shocks you with cattle prod. Ouch. Drink more beer, shock, repeat. Harness the escaping methane to power a generator.
-rev
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As far as I am concerned, nothing precludes price of the gas or electricity for heating, perhaps a gas range may be preferred over electric, or gas dryer over electric, but I am more concerned of the price of the source of power be it gas or electric for home heating. Also your location is important. Not much sense in putting in a gas furnace if you live in Miami!
If you lived next door to me, gas heat would be the only choice I would consider for primary heat. If you lived a couple miles south of me I would go with electric! (Different energy providers!) Greg
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You sound like we have almost identical situations. We are also in SE WI, just moved into a 40 year old house with propane and hotwater boiler, water heater and gas stove & dryer. I been fixing up older homes for 25 years, this setup I consider is the best. Hotwater heat is much more comfortable than hot air. So you will be able to turn the stat down a little. With propane you have to find the right supplier, some of the robbers out there drive propane trucks. We switch suppliers after the supplier the former owners had quoted a price of 1.64 for a gallon ( in august) I called around and found no one else that high. I settled for a supplier that gave me a very good quote and a prebuy, So I bought all of my propane in August and they will come and filled when needed.
Now the boiler, since it is not my first one I prefer to have a standing pilot, reason being the pilot will provide a slight amount of heat during summer which will keep the cast iron boiler from rusting away. It also pays to learn how to maintain your boiler or pay someone to do it annually. I dissemble the burners remove the chimney pipe, then with a boiler brush ( a long round wire brush with a wire handle) which you snake around between the sections to remove the scale thereby increasing the heat transfer. The vac everything up and put it back together. I've check into replacing my original to the house boiler but I can't figure a decent payback. Take the input BTU subtract the output BTU and you can figure what EFU precentage you boiler is, my came back at 80%. I might have a vent damper install to lessen the off cycle loss up the chimney. ( like the new one have) A new boiler almost the same I was quoted $3500, for a high eff. one I was quote $7500.
I'll keep this one until it no longer works and work on plugging the heat leaks of the house to save on heat bills. Hotwater heat if you can do it where you're at is the easiest to adapt one of those other side wood heaters. They are costly also but if you can find the wood for free or cheap nice heat no mess in the house.
Good luck
Tom
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Trekking Tom wrote: ....

That may be the case in a few cases, but, at least for water heaters test does some years ago proved that the pilot actually increased the rust situation. The increased temperature and the moisture from the flame (natural gas byproducts (HO, CO and CO) caused additional rust.
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Joseph Meehan

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wrote:

Unless you are prepared to take responsibility for all of the cooking, I'd strongly suggest that you get an electric stove.
Jo Anne
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Me cooking isn't an issue at all.
And actually, it's not that she prefers to *cook* on electric, it is more one of the environmental impact of gas vs. electric, both locally (in the house itself) and the big picture. I can see her point in that every time you fire up a gas stove you are releasing a great deal of toxins into your living space. As small as this house is I'm starting to wonder if she's right- Baking a few loaves of bread or slow-simmering something might asphyxiate us.
And then there is the big picture environmental impact. No need to start a debate about fringe groups but we both tend to lean a little towards the "green" crowd. Sure, electricity generator plants burn fossil fuels to create energy also (around here they are coal) but they're probably a model of efficiency for what they are doing.
Regarding electric stoves- my current roommates have a brand new smooth-top electric. It seems really nice, actually- it heats up quick, but my guess is that will change as it gets older. Still remains hot for an hour after you turn it off though.
Something it does that I don't particularly like- if you turn one of the 'burners' on to a low or mid level, i.e. 3 or 4 (i was making soup) it will 'pulse'. It doesn't hold a low temperature constant, it instead comes on full bore and shuts off, on, off, on, off. Changing the setting only changes the duty cycle from "more off less on" to "less off more on".
I experimented with it a little bit but I really couldn't get it to gently warm up a pan of soup without bringing it to a boil (ableit briefly) a couple dozen times. If you know soup, the mantra goes "soup boiled is soup spoiled". It's not really the end of the world, but there are other things I frequently like to make that indeed *would* get ruined by this- slow-cooked refried beans comes to mind. "So get a crockpot or a dutch boiler".... yeah I know, but this is using appliances to overcome the shortcomings of appliances.
Is this typical of smoothtop or modern electric ranges, or is it simply brand-specific? I can't tell you what brand stove that is off the top of my head (at work now).
Thanks.
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Natural gas is probably the cleanest buring fuel available. Millions of homes use it to simmer pots of soup and bake bread. It is really not a consideration. I've had gas heat and cooking most of my life and that is the preference in our house.

If you are leaning green, go with gas. In spite of the efficiencies of the power plant, natural gas is still going to be cleaner overall than the coal used at the power plant and resultant loss of efficiency in delivery. Another consideration is reliability. If you are in an area of power outages, electric won't work, With gas, the oven may not work, but the burners will. Sure it nice to be able to cook a meal even if you can't make toast!

There have been many improvements in the smooth tops, but I'm still not fond of them. They do not take kindly to the heavy cast iron skillets we like to use. I still hear horror stories about tops getting broken and other malfunctions.
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Good points, Edwin. Thanks.
That was going to be my next question- cast iron on top of a smoothtop. A couple of birds in the house means we can't use teflon but i wholeheartedly feel that cast iron is the way to go anyways. (Teflon is horrible for all kinds of reasons, and cast iron is *good* for all kinds of reasons).
Something else to note, is that my roommates have a bunch of (cheap, probably) stainless steel saucepans that have all gotten warped by the smoothtop- if you turn the pan upside down and look at it, they all have a high spot in the center of the bottom. I think it's the heatup/cooldown pulsing that does this. Probably wouldn't be a big deal normally, but since the top *is* smooth these pans now jiggle all over the place when you try to heat something up. You almost have to stand there and hold onto it, and it doesn't ever get the full 'contact patch' that a (normal) flat pan bottom would. There goes any efficiency. True that the pans are cheap, but heat is heat and metal is metal, and so I bet there is no guarantee that soemthing like this won't warp the shit out of my nice high-dollar pans just as bad as the $12 set.
Goedjn says:

You have a point there, but it's also all about getting along ;-) FWIW she looks at cooking as a necessity, I'm the one that wants to make a hobby out of it. We'll both cook, but I would venture to guess that I will cook *more*.
The stove thing is actually not as big of a deal (between us) as I've made it out to be. It's more one of I want gas because that's what I prefer, she wants what is most efficient and environmentally friendly be it gas or electric. (we'll talk about solar ovens another day).
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Good pans have a low spot. When heated, it becomes flat. The best are clad with aluminumor h ave a tripel ply with aluminum in the core. There are many good brands, You don't have to spend $100+ per pan.
Cast iron has many advantages, one is that it doubles as a roasting pan in the oven. Once seasoned, it is easy to clean. Ed
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If that's the case, then a smoothtop isn't a great idea.
Well, these also have all sorts of creases around the edges and a couple have some heat discoloration. They were indeed cheap. I've also got some cheap pans (in storage) that i've discolored on a gas stove I had in the last place but they haven't warped any.
Agreed on cast iron. IMNSHO nothing beats them. My mom has cast iron pans that are a thousand years old (i think they've been passed down from HER grandma) and they are incredible. Easy to cook with, tilt the pan and the eggs slide right out, easy to clean.
Reports even say that food cooked in cast iron has elevated iron levels in it. This is harmless for guys and slightly beneficial for women.
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As for smooth top electric ranges, we bought on a few years ago. We do like it, but the burners heat a little slow, and do stay warm for quite a while. Our range has warnings lights that stay on as long as the top is hot. We do not use cast iron pans so that was not and issue. Gas is probably the preferred cook top for "real" chefs. Greg
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One of the problems with the modern life style. Since we aren't out farming during the summer, and tilling and planting, we have too much time on our hands.
Cooking on a gas stove isn't going to kill you for toxins, unless you get the recipe wrong. Go find something more important to concern you.
* Quit smoking * Reduce your cholesterol intake * Get away from the computer, and get some exercise * Wake up a half hour earlier * Drink grape juice every day * Stop drinking coffee * Wear your seatbelt, always. Even for short trips. * Never leave children unattended in the bath tub or shower * Make the kdis wear their bicycle helmets * Wear aluminum foil on the side of your head where you hold your cell phone * Never let your dentist Xray your gonads.
Any of these is more important than a trace of gas toxins from the stove.
--

Christopher A. Young
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