Is it better to heat house with gas or electricity? We have gas insert and gas heating but am looking at other options for sustainable energy use. Thank you!

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    Welcome to Sustainable Living! It depends on the source of the gas and electricity. Can you add to your question where the gas is coming from, and what percentage of the electricity is from renewable sources? If you're unable to find that out, please add the location where you live. – THelper Feb 7 at 8:11

If you have access to electricity that comes from renewable sources (sun, wind, hydro, waves, biofuel) or from nuclear, then I would recommend getting a heat pump. Simply said a heat pump takes energy from the outside and puts it on the inside, sort of like a refrigerator, but done the other way around.

Heat pumps lower the electric usage significantly compared to heating with electricity directly, which you don’t really want to do. It can reduce your electric heating bill to a quarter [1]. I have one taking energy from the bedrock with two 100 m deep drilled holes, connected to my water bourne heating system. But you can take energy from the soil or a lake. If you have a heating system that doesn’t have water radiators then you can take the energy from the surrounding air.

[1] https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/heat-and-cool/heat-pump-systems

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    Heat pumps are inefficient in cold climates nordicghp.com/2015/12/air-source-heats-pump-cold-climates – Graham Chiu Mar 12 at 18:14
  • Air heat pumps are slightly less efficient than a heat pump that takes energy from thr soil, bedrock etc. If it is really cold our electric heater kicks in, if it is -15C or so. But that doesn’t negate the fact that it works really well in general. – Thomas Bjelkeman Mar 13 at 22:51

If you have access to enough green electricity to heat your home (and you will need a lot) then electric will be better. If you're grid connected then almost certainly gas (possibly even wood, especially if you burn oxygen starved and bury the biochar) is better. Consider that increasingly gas is a power source used on the grid, so if you use electricity you're going gas -> heat -> electricity -> heat whereas if you use gas directly that's just gas -> heat, cutting out several steps which introduce efficiency losses.

Unless you have your own or community biogas reactor then gas is not a renewable resource.

Since the 1970s, China has been promoting the use of underground, individual household scale, anaerobic digesters to process rural organic wastes. There are approximately 5,000,000 households using anaerobic digesters in China. The digesters produce biogas that is used as an energy source by the households, and produce fertilizer that is used in agricultural production.

http://www.cityfarmer.org/biogasPaul.html

Furthermore, you may be paying for both a line charge for gas as well as the line charges for electricity with dual connections.

Heat pumps are also the most efficient way to heat your house in most, but not all climates, and run on electricity.

Ultimately it depends on how the electricity is generated, and if there is a significant component of that power generation from non renewable resources then you may be better off with gas.

  • Why would one need to have their own biogas reactor? Why would't gas from biogas reactor owned by a city / state / country be a renewable resource? – THelper Mar 12 at 7:41
  • Name one city that supplies biogas in the U.S. ... I have no idea of what is available, whereas home biogas is readily done – Graham Chiu Mar 12 at 8:46
  • A quick google search shows me this project which says that '[biogas] will be sent nationwide through the natural gas pipeline system', but admittedly I don't know if the plant is operational yet. In any case, where I live (Europe) there are several biogas plants that inject gas into the grid. – THelper Mar 12 at 9:04
  • I think the closest thing in the U.S. would be farms and sewage treatment plants which convert manure into biogas -- however as far as I know, most of these burn the gas locally to use the heat/electricity for their own needs, occasionally export excess power to the grid. But the gas never leaves the site. – LShaver Mar 12 at 14:34
  • @THelper added a link. Home based biogas reactors are common in some countries. – Graham Chiu Mar 12 at 18:12

i suppose it would depend on your location- in my state most of our power still comes from coal burning plants so gas burns "cleaner" in my case (i dont know where our gas is sourced from, if its fracked that would be another factor to consider)

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