As the cost of living crisis bites, a new report reveals just how much Australian households can save on their energy bills when they switch gas for electric at home. Making households greener is also an essential step to tackle the climate crisis and reach net-zero emissions.
The Climate Council’s report, Switch And Save: How Gas Is Costing Households, presents a new analysis of exactly how expensive gas appliances are to run compared to electrical alternatives. It found that all households in the Australian capital cities analysed would save money by switching. Savings ranged from AUD $800 to AUD $1,900 per year.
“Australian households are trapped by escalating gas bills, which are fuelling a cost-of-living crisis… Getting off gas – by switching to electric cooking, heating and hot water – will set us free from paying exorbitant gas bills, and create a safer home”, states the report. “While the costs of gas may be bad for you and me, it’s big business to certain corporations.”
However, while households can enjoy savings in the long run, the upfront cost of switching appliances is a barrier for many. Therefore, the Climate Council has called for nationally coordinated action from the government to help households across Australia make the switch. Those in social and public housing, low-income households or rental properties should also not be left behind.
Calculate how much you could save
Using average gas and electricity prices from July 2022, the analysis found the following average annual energy bill savings from switching to fully electric. Savings will also vary between households depending on factors like size and location, as well as future price fluctuations of gas and electricity. The report notes that these figures are based on electricity provided from the grid – a home solar system would be an added benefit as it essentially powers home electricals for free.
- Hobart: AUD $1,899
- Canberra: AUD $1,876
- Adelaide: AUD $1,457
- Brisbane: AUD $1,424
- Melbourne: AUD $1,207
- Sydney: AUD $924
- Perth: AUD $803
The Climate Council provides an energy bill calculator to determine how much you could save in the switch – as well as the impact on your household greenhouse gas emissions.
Making the energy switch – what support is needed
Electrifying your home can be an expensive endeavour. Buying a new stovetop, hot water system and heating system is too costly for many households. This is particularly the case as budgets are increasingly squeezed.
This is why it is imperative the government steps in. One thing for certain is that taking action to stem climate change now will cost governments far less than dealing with its impacts.
Therefore, the report calls on the government to assist with the up-front costs for households, such as grants or zero-interest loans. This would allow households to pay back the investment with energy bill savings. This would mean all Australians – including low-income households – can benefit immediately from the cost and health benefits of ditching gas.
Furthermore, utilities currently charge extortionate fees to disconnect individual households from gas. Companies apply daily supply charges for gas connection – even if no gas is used at the property. Governments should investigate and seek to minimise these costs. One solution is to explore the disconnection of entire suburbs or regions.
The report also recommends that all new homes in Australia are built fully electrified. Moreover, whenever gas appliances break down, replacing them with cheaper, cleaner and more efficient electric alternatives is a no-brainer.
Looking more broadly, investments in heat pump manufacturing and other all-electric equipment would ensure Australians can always readily access the electric products they need. This will be particularly important in the face of rising global demand for such items. As an added bonus, these investments would also create many quality and future-proofed jobs in Australia.
Save money and protect the planet from home
Gas appliances are an outdated technology with no place in the modern home, states the Climate Council report. They are more expensive to run and less energy efficient than electric alternatives. Gas use in homes is also dangerous to human health. This is because it contributes to indoor air pollution associated with numerous health conditions. For example, gas stoves leak hazardous chemicals – including carcinogens – even when switched off.
Gas is also a fossil fuel that is driving the climate crisis. The floods, fires and droughts that are becoming more frequent and deadly in Australia are a direct result of burning gas. Moreover, Australian households generate as much as 20 per cent of Australia’s entire emissions. This means that as well as being cost-effective, shifting from gas allows households to collectively make a significant impact to tackle the climate crisis.