Why make the switch?

By switching your appliances from gas to electricity, you can save money on your household bills, improve your family’s convenience and comfort, and take action to protect our climate and environment. It’s easier than you think to do good and feel good!

  • Save money
  • Improve your health and comfort
  • Take action on climate change

By switching from gas to electricity, you can eliminate your gas bill.

All buildings use electricity for lighting and appliances, so you are already paying for your home’s electricity connection. If you also have gas appliances, you are paying over $300 more each year to be connected to a second energy supply. But you don’t need this double-up. Electric appliances can do everything that gas appliances do in your home. So, if you switch all your gas appliances to ones that run on electricity, you can close your gas account and not pay the additional supply charge.

Many modern electric appliances use electricity very efficiently, so it will typically cost you less to heat your home, heat water and cook with electric appliances than with the equivalent gas appliances, especially if your gas appliances are old and inefficient. If you also improve the energy efficiency of your home (for instance, by adding more insulation and sealing draughts), you can cut your power use and save even more. If your home has rooftop solar power, you could save even more by using your own electricity instead of gas.

Another benefit of going all-electric is that you can install apps to monitor your energy usage and discover which activities and appliances consume the most energy. When combined with a smart device, you can control your home’s electricity use remotely or set appliances to operate on a regular schedule to take advantage of rooftop solar or best pricing periods.

A young man and woman are happily looking at a laptop screen in their home

Save hundreds of dollars on your household budget by switching off gas.

While renewable electricity is becoming cheaper, gas prices around Australia have generally been going up over the past decade. Gas prices in the future are likely to be impacted by governments around the world responding to the global climate challenge and making fossil fuel companies pay for polluting carbon emissions.

The ACT Government’s Climate Change Strategy 2019–2025 commits to phasing out new and existing gas connections and achieving zero emissions from gas use by 2045 (Goal 4B). Considering this, families looking to replace old appliances or build new homes would be wise to invest in electric options rather than gas ones that may become unusable as the ACT progresses towards its zero emissions target.

By switching off gas at your home, you can improve your family’s health, convenience and comfort.

Gas appliances, such as unflued heaters, especially if they are old or poorly maintained, may release methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) into your home, polluting indoor air and endangering your family’s health. Gas stoves and heaters can make indoor air up to five times dirtier than outdoor air, increasing the risks of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses such as bronchitis and asthma, especially for children and the elderly (Seals & Krasner).

Open flames in the home also pose safety risks. During cooking, gas flames can ignite fats and oils, a common cause of house fires. Children are also at risk of burns.

Induction cooktops have no flame and no fumes, making cooking safer and healthier for your family.

Modern electric appliances provide a better experience than gas. Replacing old gas heaters with reverse-cycle heat pumps (known in Australia as split-system air-conditioners) can free up floor space and double-up as cooling in summer as well as heating in winter. Induction cooktops are easier to control than gas stoves, have no flame, and are far easier to clean! And with renewable electricity, your hot water will be both hot and free of greenhouse gas emissions. Switching to electric appliances provides wins for your family, your budget and the environment.

More questions about induction cooking?

Jump to How to switch your cooking or scroll through the Mythbusting Q&A below.

Note: Always read the manufacturer’s safety instructions and take appropriate precautions while operating any appliance. Never leave cooking unattended.

By not using gas, we can tackle climate change and protect our environment.

The gas that we use in our homes and businesses for heating and cooking is a fossil fuel that, when burnt, releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and causes climate change. Like petroleum oil and coal, it comes from underground deposits of ancient decayed organic material. Mostly made up of methane, it also causes pollution on its way to your home as fugitive emissions that escape to the atmosphere during mining, processing and distribution of the gas through the pipelines. Methane and carbon dioxide are dangerous greenhouse gases that accumulate in the Earth’s atmosphere, trapping heat and causing global warming.

Human activities such as burning fossil fuels, agriculture and land clearing are increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing the Earth to warm. (Environment.gov.au)

Mining for gas also causes damage to the environment. Offshore drilling into the ocean floor disturbs the seabed, creates underwater noise and spills pollution into marine and coastal habitats. On land, gas mining companies have to build roads, clear vegetation, build pipelines and processing plants, and drill holes deep into the Earth’s crust. These activities often intrude into native forest habitat and agricultural land and can damage Indigenous cultural sites. Extraction wells pump hundreds of thousands of litres of chemicals underground under high pressure, potentially depleting and contaminating fresh water aquifers and also causing earth tremors through literally fracturing the ground.

Hundreds of individual gas well-heads cut through the landscape around Condamine and Braemar, Queensland. (earth.google.com)

The ACT Government, along with hundreds of other cities and states worldwide, has recognised the climate emergency, and has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2045. As of 2020, 22% of the Territory’s emissions come from the use of gas. To reach net-zero emissions, we must rapidly phase out gas in the ACT. Luckily, we can use readily available technologies to replace gas appliances with electric alternatives. Because 100% of the ACT’s electricity now comes from clean, renewable wind and solar sources, switching from gas to electricity in our buildings will immediately reduce emissions and help our society move away from polluting fossil fuels. If you live outside the ACT and want to offset your use of coal-fired electricity, you can purchase green electricity or consider investing in your own solar panels.

Switching from gas to electricity also enables people and communities to take control of their own energy production and its impact on the planet. When our homes rely on gas, we are connected to the global fossil fuel industry. Switching our homes to all-electric appliances means we can also switch to electricity made using renewables, either by purchasing renewable energy through a retailer, investing in local, community-owned renewable electricity or installing rooftop solar panels. This is a win–win for people and the planet!

Use the Make the Switch calculator to estimate how much greenhouse gas emissions your home could avoid by going all‑electric.

Myth-busting Q&A

When people talk about gas, some make comments like ‘gas is cheap and clean’, or ‘when we built our home, we were told everyone prefers gas’, or ‘gas is better for cooking’. All of that may have been reasonable advice two or three decades ago, but like corsets, cigarettes and cathode-ray televisions, some things are best left behind. Times have changed, and so have prices, technologies and our climate. It’s time for our homes and our habits to move on, too.

The questions and answers below tackle common misconceptions about gas as well as the new technologies, and help you make informed and confident decisions about using clean, efficient electricity.

Is electricity more affordable than gas?

Yes. Electric appliances powered by renewable electricity are cheaper to run than gas.

The cost of gas has steadily risen over the past few decades, partly because easy-to-find gas has been depleted. The cost of extracting gas from harder-to-reach deposits (for example, through deep-ocean drilling and hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ of coal seam gas) is much higher. Gas companies are also exporting Australian gas to overseas markets to maximise profits, leaving short supplies and high prices for domestic customers.

The public is increasingly calling for government subsidies for fossil fuels to be withdrawn and gas mining to stop. Countries around the world are also starting to factor in the cost of pollution from fossil fuels, so gas prices are likely to continue to increase even in countries that don’t directly apply this cost.

The efficiency of solar, wind and battery technologies has improved while the cost of producing panels, turbines and batteries has fallen. Although gas is about half the cost of electricity per unit of energy, modern heat pumps use as little as a quarter of the amount of energy to heat air or water as their gas equivalents. Thus, it is now cheaper and more efficient to use electricity than gas for heating, hot water and cooking, depending on your choice of appliances.

How can “natural gas” be bad?

Natural stuff can be harmful for us and nature itself.

Gas is created by nature. So are asbestos, botulism, Irukandji jellyfish, death cap mushrooms, cane toads, polonium and earthquakes. We can probably agree that ‘natural’ does not necessarily equal ‘good’!

The gas that is piped through cities to homes and businesses is mostly methane, with some butane, propane and other trace gases. It comes from the same underground deposits as coal and petroleum oil, formed millions of years ago by the natural deposit, burial, decomposition and fossilisation of dead vegetation and animals. Gas retailers mostly refer to it as ‘natural gas’ because it sounds attractive for marketing, but it also goes by other names such as coal seam gas (CSG) or shale gas depending on where or how it has been extracted. It can also be compressed into a liquid, known as liquefied natural gas (LNG), while liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is mostly propane and butane.

What’s not natural is the speed with which humans have dug up and burned vast quantities of fossil fuels, pouring carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere far faster than Earth’s natural systems of vegetation growth, ocean absorption and geological weathering can remove it.

Sunlight and wind are both natural sources of energy that don’t need to be dug out of the ground and are available for us to harness without the environmental and climate harm caused by mining and burning gas.

Does gas cause climate change, like coal?

Yes. Gas is a fossil fuel that contributes to climate change.

Like other fossil fuels, when methane gas is burned for energy, it produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that accumulates in Earth’s atmosphere and is a major contributor to global warming. Compared to burning coal or wood, gas is generally presented as a ‘cleaner’ source of energy. While an efficient gas power plant emits 50 to 60 per cent less carbon dioxide than a typical coal-fired power plant, that’s still substantially more pollution than solar and wind power.

The gas industry also underestimates and underreports the ‘fugitive emissions’ of methane that leak from gas wells and pipelines, a source of greenhouse gas emissions that is significantly greater than previously thought (Borunda, MEI). Methane is 20 to 30 times stronger than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a 20 year period. Compared to electricity from renewable generation sources (solar, wind and hydro), gas is a dirty, polluting fossil fuel. Even with carbon capture and storage technologies, gas will never be as clean as wind and solar.

In addition to its contribution to climate change, gas appliances, especially if they are old or poorly maintained, may emit methane (CH4), carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) into your home, reducing your indoor air quality and endangering your family’s health. Gas stoves and heaters can make indoor air up to five times dirtier than outdoor air, increasing the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses such as bronchitis and asthma, particularly for children and the elderly.

The good news is that we can substantially reduce the harm to the planet and our health in a fairly short time period if we rapidly phase out the mining and use of gas.

Can we skip gas and go straight to zero-emissions electricity?

Yes. We don’t need to transition to a low-carbon economy via gas.

Large-scale electricity production technologies (wind, solar and hydro power and battery storage) are now cheap and reliable enough to replace coal and gas as the cleanest energy sources for buildings. Even for many other commercial and industrial applications that have traditionally depended on gas, we would be better off investing in new, clean technologies than maintaining or expanding the gas industry.

The gas industry promotes the concept of gas as a “transition fuel” because they want to keep selling more gas! But, clean, renewable energy has come of age and there are enough effective electric appliances available now that we can switch from gas to electricity in our homes today.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in larger commercial buildings can be run efficiently from electricity, with considerable advantages to be gained from onsite rooftop solar panels as the energy source, reducing demand on the national electricity grid.

There are now plentiful examples of gas being replaced in industry by clean, renewable energy sources which provide additional efficiency and cost-savings for businesses as well as environmental benefits. Innovative companies are reinventing industrial processes, such as battery recycling that avoids energy input and simultaneously recovers much higher percentages of usable materials than previous processing techniques. Biogas from industrial sources such as landfills, abattoirs, farms and sewage facilities can replace mined fossil gas for localised electricity generation and heat for all sorts of industries from brickworks to aquaculture. Heavy transport vehicles, and even the aviation industry, are already moving directly to electricity or clean hydrogen. Even steel and cement can be manufactured ‘green’, without use of fossil fuels.

Like the stone age gave way to the bronze then iron ages, the age of fossil fuels is giving way to the clean, renewable energy sources and technologies of the future.

Do heat pumps for hot-water and home heating systems work in cold climates?

Yes. There are highly effective heat pumps designed for even the coldest Australian climates.

Good quality modern heat pumps for heating buildings and hot water will work everywhere in Australia. Heat pumps are in widespread use across Europe, North America and Japan where the climate is far colder than anywhere on our sunny continent. The efficiency does vary with climatic conditions, the refrigerant used and the quality of the heat pump construction, so you should check the energy efficiency rating, temperature range and performance reviews of the models you are considering.

Heat pumps work by exchanging heat between the air outside the machine and the chemical refrigerant fluid inside the machine in a continuous cycle of evaporation, compression, condensation and expansion. Even when the weather is cold outside, there is always heat energy in the movement of air molecules because our planet is heated by the sun and kept warm (compared to outer space) by our atmosphere. Heat pumps are designed to absorb that heat.

Your refrigerator and freezer are heat pumps that pull heat energy out of the food compartment of your fridge, making it cold, and release it to the air around the fridge (have you ever noticed that it’s warm behind your fridge?). Reverse-cycle heat pumps (known in Australia as air-conditioners) in cooling mode work the same way, drawing heat out of the air inside your home and releasing it to the air outside your home. Reversing the cycle draws heat energy from outdoor air and pumps it into your home to warm your rooms. Heat pump water heaters draw heat energy from outdoor air and transfer it to cold water in the tank, which then gets delivered, hot, to your taps.

Heat pumps can be four or more times more efficient at heating air or water than standard resistive electric element heaters and even more so than gas that loses energy during combustion. Heat pumps use the chemical and physical properties of the refrigerant to transfer heat energy from air to refrigerant then to the water using electrical energy only to drive the compressor. The higher the coefficient of performance (CoP), the more efficient the appliance.

Different models of heat pump may use different refrigerants which have varying effects on Earth’s atmosphere in the event of leakage or end-of-life disposal. The lower the ozone depletion potential (ODP), global warming potential (GWP) and total equivalent warming impact (TEWI), the less harm the refrigerant may cause. Check the manufacturer’s specifications.

Unfortunately, information on energy and appliance websites which suggest that heat pumps are less effective in the cold may not be based on the most up-to-date appliances.

By choosing the right models for your climate, heat pumps can save you hundreds of dollars in running costs for hot water, and heating and cooling your home.

Can I still cook my culture’s traditional foods?

Of course! Cultures have always adapted to new technologies, and will continue to do so.

What’s considered normal in any culture throughout history evolves over time as populations mix, available resources change and new innovations of technology emerge.

Gas became popular for cooking because it was cheaper, cleaner and easier to control than wood and coal. The gas industry expanded and gas became the standard energy source for commercial kitchens and homes. Our pots, utensils, recipes and methods adapted to use gas.

But gas’s time has now passed and we need to kick the habit. We now have cleaner, cheaper, safer, more efficient and more responsive technologies available that surpass gas’s utility in our kitchens. The environmental costs of gas are far too high for us to continue using it just because we grew up with it. There are easily available saucepans, frying pans, steamers, casserole pots, woks, tagines, handis, grill plates and many more vessels that will work on induction cooktops.

Like any new technology, induction cooktops take a little bit of getting used to. You might need to adjust how you prepare meals, such as preparing all of your ingredients before heating your frying pan or boiling water because there will not be the long heating time you are accustomed to with gas. Read the instruction manual that comes with your new induction cooktop and do some experimentation with temperature settings to find the digital settings that suit your recipes and cooking needs, from really low temperature (as low as 40°C) for melting or slow cooking to really high temperature (up to 250°C) for rapid boiling, searing or even jam setting.

Try out a friend’s cooktop, borrow cookware before buying your own, go to a cooking demonstration or find how-to videos online to get the hang of it.

Your food will taste just as good as always and you’ll have the added satisfaction of knowing that you’re saving money, your family’s health and the planet.

Is it true that cooking with induction is clean, fast and easy to control?

Yes! You’ll be cooking clean in no time.

Induction cooktops offer fast and accurate control over a wide temperature range for all kinds of cooking. They have superior safety features and energy efficiency.

Induction cooktops use an entirely different technology to electric resistance ceramic or coil cooktops. Electricity flows through the metal element under the tempered-glass surface, creating an electro-magnetic field. This field interacts with the base of a metal pot, delivering heat quickly and efficiently to the food in the pot. Because the magnetic field turns on and adjusts instantly, the cooking effect is also instantaneous. The power range of the cooking zones is typically much greater (40°C up to 250°C) than the variation in a gas flame, allowing them to boil water in just two to three minutes or turn right down for hours of slow-cooking a casserole or pot roast.

Induction cooktops do not produce the air pollutants (methane, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides) that gas cooktops do, and most induction cooktops have safety mechanisms that turn the cooktop off if no pot is detected or pots boil dry. The glass surface cools down much more quickly than old electric stoves and there is no open flame to ignite fats and oils that cause house fires or dangerous burns. The smooth glass surface is easy to clean, even during cooking, and doubles as extra bench space when not being used for cooking.

You can even buy an induction wok or induction tagine and still whip up that sizzling hot stir fry, without the pollution, fire risk and mess. Or turn it down low for precise control over delicate sauces or long slow stews and curries. Now we’re cooking… clean!

Diagram of induction cooking technology

An electric coil under the glass surface generates an electromagnetic field that efficiently creates heat directly in the cooking pot without a hot element or flame.

Will I have to buy all new pots and pans?

No, you can keep using your favourite pots if you really want to.

There are plenty of alternatives to both gas and induction cooktops: microwaves, toaster or benchtop ovens, rice cookers, slow cookers, crockpots, steamers, sandwich grills, Thermomix, breadmakers and so on. Think about what you usually cook and whether you even need a dedicated in-bench cooktop.

Induction cooktops require iron-rich metal pots. You probably already have some in your kitchen that are compatible. Test them with a fridge magnet – if the magnet sticks to the underside of the pot and the base is flat, it will probably work on an induction cooktop.

See how you go with the pots you have. Then buy only what you need to fill the gaps for the dishes you usually cook. There are induction-compatible versions of almost every type of pot. Take a magnet to second-hand shops if you don’t want to buy new.

If you have a treasured, favourite pot, like a handmade ceramic tagine or family heirloom casserole pot, that is not compatible, you can buy an induction conversion disc which is a flat stainless steel plate that converts the magnetic energy of the induction cooking zone into radiant heat like an electric resistive element. Be aware that the disc will hold heat like ceramic hotplates and not transfer instant adjustments from the induction controls it sits on top of.

You might relish the opportunity to clear out all those worn-out, wonky-handled, no-longer-non-stick pans that have collected in the cupboards. But if you are reluctant to “waste” non-compatible pots, remember that the metal is fully recyclable. See the ACT Government Recyclopaedia website to find metal recyclers. You should not place old appliances or cooking pots into any of your rubbish or recycling bins.

Are the greenhouse gases from wind and solar less than gas?

Yes. The total lifecycle emissions from wind and solar are much less than from gas.

Solar and wind farms that produce renewable electricity do result in some greenhouse gas emissions during construction, mostly from the manufacturing of concrete and steel and transport to location. But the mining and processing of gas and coal, and the building of power plants and distribution pipelines also produce these ‘embodied emissions’. We need to compare the total lifecycle emissions of different technologies relative to the energy they provide to find the better option.

The lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity produced from wind and solar power are far lower than from either gas- or coal-fired electricity. (Schlömer)

Lifecycle analysis shows that the total emissions from wind and solar are merely four per cent of the emissions produced by the equivalent, typical coal-fired power plants over their lifetime (Amponsah). The carbon footprint of gas, even with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to reduce the emissions from burning it by 90 per cent, is four times bigger (78 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of energy) than the most inefficient solar technology in the worst locations (21 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of energy). The best solar technology in the sunniest locations, like Australia, produce as little as 3 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of energy.

Next, there is the amount of energy used to construct and operate each type of power compared to the amount of energy it produces. This is called the ‘energy return on investment’ (EROI). Once again, wind and solar outperform coal and gas. For each unit of energy invested, coal and gas produce about 10 units of electricity while wind and solar produce 44 units and 26 units respectively.

As of 2020, the ACT purchases 100% of its electricity from renewable generation sources. This means that switching from gas to electricity in your house will immediately and significantly reduce emissions from your heating, cooking and hot water, and enable you to tap into the most efficient power sources in the world. The ACT also has a policy of sourcing more renewable energy as electricity consumption increases over the next decade, so you can be assured that 100% of your electricity will continue to be offset by renewables.

Do blackouts affect gas appliances?

Yes. There’s no guarantee that you can safely use gas during a blackout.

Most gas appliances have some kind of electrical component to start them or keep them running, such as thermostats. Gas heaters have fans. Most instantaneous gas hot water systems have electric ignition. Gas cooktops have electric ignition and should not be operated without an exhaust fan to draw out noxious fumes even if you could ignite them manually. So even if the gas itself will still flow, the appliance may not work safely without electricity.

Unexpected blackouts in Australia do not happen often and most people can get by without using domestic appliances for the short time it usually takes for power to be restored. If your household must have continuous power (say, for medical reasons), you should investigate backup options such as a generator or battery.

Does electric heat feel nice?

Electric heat feels like … heat.

While the flames of a log-style fire might be appealing, functionally, heat is heat, regardless of its source. What people physically experience is how intense the source of the heat is or how draughty a room feels. Modern electric appliances deliver heat more efficiently and safely, and there are many options to meet your needs.

The indoor units of reverse-cycle air conditioners (heat pumps) are usually mounted high on a wall or ducted through the ceiling, but floor-mounted versions are also available. If you prefer silent radiant heat without moving air, you might like a hydronic (water-filled) heat pump system. Portable heaters range in size and technology from radiant ceramic elements to oil-filled columns, so can be matched to the size of the space you want to heat. Personal heaters such as foot warmers or electric throws can apply heat exactly where you need it without the expense of heating entire rooms. Always read the safety labels and check for signs of wear.

Doing some simple things around your home to stop draughts and cover windows or even simply closing the doors of rooms you don’t need to heat will help your home feel cosier and reduce your energy use. You might be able to add more insulation to your house’s walls or ceiling, or upgrade your windows to be double-glazed. Adding an extra layer or two of warm clothing will also make a very inexpensive difference to your comfort. Trimming trees that block winter sun from warming your home can be useful, though do ensure you still have shade in summer.

And if you still hanker for a glowing fireplace, get an electric version!

Shouldn’t we wait to see if we can use hydrogen and biogas in the residential gas network?

No. Hydrogen and biogas would be less efficient than using renewable electricity in our homes.

The energy output from hydrogen fuel is typically about 65–75% of the electrical energy used to make it (Blanco Reaño). This conversion loss means it is much more efficient for home appliances to use the electricity directly.

When hydrogen gas is burned as a fuel it produces only water and heat (energy), and no greenhouse gases. If the hydrogen is made from water by electrolysis powered by solar or wind energy, then it is a zero-emissions fuel, sometimes called ‘green hydrogen’. But currently, most hydrogen is made from methane gas or coal in processes that produce carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) and is therefore almost as polluting as fossil fuels (Rapier). Other methods, such as splitting seawater with sunlight, are still being researched. Like any industrial process, producing hydrogen has environmental impacts in addition to emissions. For instance, making hydrogen requires about 100 litres of water as feedstock and coolant for every kilogram of hydrogen produced, a significant resource and environmental impact that needs to be accounted for (Mehmeti).

Gas networks can only tolerate a maximum of 20% hydrogen blended into existing gas before households would need to install new appliances that would be compatible with hydrogen (Gerhardt). At best, even if that 20% is green hydrogen, the remaining 80% will continue to be polluting fossil fuel gas. It’s like adding a filter to a cigarette or using organic potatoes to make chips, and calling it healthy, despite all the fat and salt and preservatives.

So, while hydrogen might be useful in some areas such as heavy transport fuel or industrial processes, our homes are better powered by renewable electricity.

Biogas or biomethane is technologically more feasible as a replacement for existing gas because it is the same chemical substance – methane. When biogas is captured from sources such as sewage treatment ponds or landfills or pig farms and used on-site to produce electricity, it can help to reduce the amount of methane emitted to the atmosphere. However, like fossil gas, when biogas is fed into a distributed network for residential use, it results in fugitive greenhouse gas emissions, causes all the same health and safety issues in our homes, and is a much less efficient energy source than electricity.

Biogas can also be made in methane digesters from organic matter such as food waste or other biomass such as wood and agricultural crops or waste. Burning plant material or food waste destroys the nutrients that could be better returned to the soil as compost. It could also lead to a ‘feed-the-beast’ system where demand for the gas requires increasing amounts of organic waste and new biomass. Ultimately our aim as a society is to reduce waste going to landfill, not increase it to feed a gas network.

Biofuels and green hydrogen may have a useful role to play as fuel for transport and industrial applications. But, given how easy it already is to make our homes and businesses all-electric, powered by zero-emissions solar and wind energy, it makes sense to make the switch from gas to electricity now.

Are wood heaters really bad for the environment?

Yes. Wood heaters cause air pollution and harm to our forests.

Like fossil fuels, burning wood produces carbon dioxide and other harmful gases. Wood smoke also contains inhalable fine particles (PM10) that pollute indoor and outdoor air. In Canberra’s winters, wood smoke accumulates in a blanket of haze over homes, reducing visibility and causing breathing difficulties for many people.

Wood is sometimes promoted as a carbon-neutral renewable fuel, if the carbon dioxide from burning the wood is offset by growing trees drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. But this relies on actually regrowing as many trees as are cut down. Harvesting firewood often damages forests and woodlands, robbing wildlife of habitat in a country where land-clearing and commercial logging of native forests is unsustainable. The firewood industry’s code of practice is only voluntary. ‘Selective’ or ‘salvage’ logging in burnt forests is just as harmful – burnt and fallen trees are of very little economic value to the timber industry but are extremely important for forest and wildlife recovery.

The ACT Government has a program to replace wood heaters with energy-efficient electric heating. If you really want a wood fire, ensure that it complies with the Australian standard for wood-burning heaters. Check the sustainability credentials of your firewood supplier or consider swapping to briquettes made from sawdust. If you love the look of a wood fire, replace it with an electric version!

How can I afford to switch?

Switching is cheaper than you think, and savings over time will offset the costs.

Most households that switch from gas to electric appliances save money overall. Increases in your electricity bill will be outweighed by savings on your gas bill. Modern electric appliances are more efficient at using energy than gas appliances so the amount of electric energy you will use for heating, hot water and cooking is likely to be smaller than your equivalent gas use. And once you’ve completed the transition to electric appliances, you’ll save $320 a year on your gas connection, saying goodbye to your gas bill forever!

The efficiency of appliances does vary with climatic conditions, the specific technologies and materials used and the quality of the appliance construction, so you should check the energy efficiency rating and performance reviews of the models you are considering. You should also shop around – you can often negotiate with retailers to get a better price. By planning ahead, it’s possible to take advantage of sales and discounts. Likewise with installation, obtain multiple quotes and do a bit of research to ensure your installer quotes for everything that’s required.

You may be eligible for government or energy retailer programs to help with the costs of switching (see Financial support). Other actions to improve energy efficiency, such as sealing up draughts and putting in insulation, will be a wise investment that will save on energy costs over the longer term.

Your payback period is how long it takes to make savings that equal the upfront costs of new appliances. This will vary depending on gas and electricity prices, the amount of energy you use, your choices of new appliances, installation costs, your eligibility for subsidies, and other specifics of your situation. You can use our calculator to explore how different choices affect the payback period. For instance, buying a cheaper appliance will shorten your payback period. The savings you accrue from switching your first appliance can help you afford the next appliance. Switching your last appliance and closing your gas account can shorten the payback period by several years.

I’m building a new house – should I go all-electric?

Absolutely! Take the opportunity to invest in the clean technology of the future!

The ACT Government and the Victorian Government are both introducing regulation to prohibit gas in new homes, effective from November 2023 in the ACT and 1 January 2024 in Victoria. Both regulations are likely to include renovations and knock-down-rebuild homes, so be prepared to go all-electric!
Going all-electric, with or without rooftop solar power, will save homeowners money, improve your comfort and help tackle climate change.
If you are building a new home or doing substantial extensions or renovations, take the opportunity to build the most sustainable home you can. Find an architect and builder who prioritises sustainability. Build the smallest home you can live in, rather than the biggest that will fit on the block. Investigate the passive energy potential of the site and home design. Orient living areas so that windows face north for sun in winter, and send the car to the south or west side. Insulate walls and ceilings and include thermal mass in floors or walls to regulate temperatures between day and night. Install thermally broken double-glazed windows and calculate the correct width for eaves and awnings to shade windows from summer sun. Plan for trees that will provide natural shade and cooling. All these measures and more can significantly reduce the amount of heating and cooling the house will need.

A thermal image of a row of townhouses. All houses glow green, yellow and red indicating heat being lost from the building, except one house in the middle that is dark blue, indicating very little heat loss.

New York’s first certified “Passive House” is so well insulated and air-sealed that the exterior is nearly the same (cold blue winter) temperature as the outside air, while it’s neighbours blaze with heat being lost from the interior. Yet it consumes approximately 90% less heat energy than the average home and 75% less energy overall. (6sqft)

In a new home you are likely to be buying new appliances. Even if efficient electric appliances cost a little more than average gas appliances, what you will save by not paying for a gas connection or gas running costs will cover the difference within just a few years. Use our calculator to estimate the savings and payback period.

Is it worth repairing/servicing/upgrading my old gas appliances?

No. Put your money to better use by going electric.

Don’t spend any more money on old gas appliances. If they break down or need servicing or repair, put the money towards a new electric appliance instead. Even if you have to scrape together the cash today, you’ll be better off with a new efficient electric heat pump or induction cooktop.
Find out about financial assistance that might help you switch.

As an architect/builder/retailer/tradie, should I advise clients to go all-electric?

Yes! Once people understand the benefits of going all-electric, they don’t want gas.

The ACT Government and the Victorian Government are both introducing regulation to prohibit gas in new homes, effective from November 2023 in the ACT and 1 January 2024 in Victoria. Both regulations are likely to include renovations and knock-down-rebuild homes, so advise your clients now to go all-electric!

When people realise the savings they could achieve and discover how efficient, effective and safe modern electric appliances are, going all-electric makes sense. The experience of new suburbs in the ACT where gas is available but not automatically connected to homes is that informed homeowners choose not to connect. What people want for their home is for it to be warm and have reliable hot water – they are perfectly happy with affordable and effective electricity.

Unfortunately, because gas was standard practice for so many years for heating, hot water and cooking, many developers and tradespeople are likely to suggest gas for their customers, believing that their customers prefer gas. Both the professionals and their customers may be unfamiliar with modern electric technologies and unaware of reasons to question using gas, particularly when gas connections are easily available. In addition, the gas industry continues to promote gas as more efficient, and appliance retailers continue to sell what sells.

As an architect, builder, appliance retailer or installer, your clients are relying on your professional knowledge and advice, and you have the opportunity to influence more sustainable outcomes. What we knew to be true 10 or 20 years ago may no longer be the case and it’s important to stay informed about new technologies and their impacts on the environment as well as their performance in buildings and specific climates.

Should my home go all-electric if we’re not in the ACT?

Yes. Many electric appliances use less energy, and the national electricity grid is becoming cleaner.

If you live in the ACT and switch your gas appliances to electric, you will immediately reduce your household’s greenhouse gas emissions because 100% of the ACT’s electricity is now purchased through contracts for clean, renewable solar and wind power.

Even if you are not living in the ACT, switching off gas will reduce demand for gas and signal to the industry that gas is no longer wanted (Forcey). Although your electricity might still come from coal-fired power plants, these are gradually being replaced by renewable energy production so your electricity supply is becoming cleaner every day (Mannheim). When emissions across the entire supply chain are taken into account, gas is almost as polluting as coal, so switching to modern electric appliances that are much more efficient than gas ones will reduce your household’s overall energy use and, increasingly, the resulting emissions (Stock).

Additionally, you could shop around to find an electricity retailer that offers ‘green’ energy, or consider installing your own rooftop solar panels or investing in a community-owned solar farm. The more solar power there is in the grid, the less demand there will be for fossil fuels. The more solar power we generate from roofs, the less land will be needed for solar farms, and it puts control in the hands of the people who are generating the electricity.

The Victorian Government is introducing regulation to prohibit gas in new homes, effective from 1 January 2024. Other states are likely to follow suit within the next few years, so plan now to make the switch!

If everyone switches to electricity, will the electricity network cope?

Yes. Energy providers are planning for the transition.

Electricity providers, like Evoenergy in the ACT, conduct regular reviews and forecasts to plan for the future of the gas and electricity networks. They take into account a range of factors including government policies, emerging technologies, climate change and customer preferences. As we replace fossil fuel power with more renewable energy, implement smart technologies, install efficient electric appliances, encourage rooftop solar panels, build battery and hydro storage, plug electric vehicles into the grid, and reduce our overall energy use, our future energy networks will accommodate the phasing out of gas.

As an electricity customer, a portion of your bill helps pay for the poles, wires and network infrastructure, contributing to the network operator’s investment in future infrastructure.

Demand for electricity in the ACT fluctuates seasonally, higher in summer and lower in winter. The gas network fluctuates in the opposite direction, higher in winter for heating and lower in summer. If we move all gas operation to the electricity network by using more efficient electric appliances, this may smooth energy demand over the year and energy companies may eventually be able to consolidate network operation costs.

Can I switch off the gas if I am renting?

Maybe. There are many things renters can do to reduce their gas usage.

There are many low-cost or temporary things you can do to reduce your gas use and improve your comfort, by improving the energy efficiency of your home. This includes covering windows with bubble wrap or heavier curtains, and draught sealing, using gap filler, foam strips or door snakes.

You can use portable electric heaters rather than installed gas heaters. While portable heaters are far less efficient than split systems, they can be more cost effective to operate than central heating systems if you only want to heat a small area such as a bedroom. Other options include heated throws and blankets to heat you, rather than the room.

There are a myriad of electric cooking appliances you could use instead of a gas stove, such as: electric ovens, microwave ovens, toasters, slow cookers, rice cookers, sandwich presses, waffle irons, pressure cookers, skillets, thermomixers, bread makers, portable hotplates and grillers, and portable induction cookers.

You can reduce hot water use by installing low-flow shower heads and tap attachments. To avoid relying on gas hot water systems, it might be possible to fit an under-sink, instant, electric water heater for kitchen and bathroom sinks, or for showering, use the portable, instant, tankless kind of electric water heater used for camping or caravans. If you can completely avoid using any of the gas appliances, you can ask your gas retailer to close your gas account and stop paying the supply charge, saving hundreds of dollars per year.

Tenants can request their landlord to switch all gas appliances to electric. Many landlords have not invested in upgrades because they think there’s no benefit to them. However, landlords are eligible for energy incentives and rebates on offer from the ACT Government, and this site could be used to demonstrate the long-term benefit for both tenants and property owners.

Find more information and resources for tenants, landlords and apartments on the Rentals & Units page.

Will an induction stove be safe with my cardiac pacemaker?

Very likely, yes. But consult your cardiologist if you are concerned.

Many people have a pacemaker in place for all sorts of different cardiac conditions, and may wonder about its compatibility with induction cooktops because of the magnetic field they generate.

Cardiologist Dr Arnagretta Hunter explains that the research literature that’s available implies that there’s a theoretical risk associated with some older style pacemakers that are much less common in our current population, around the distance between the magnet which is part of the induction stovetop and the pacemaker.

However, she could not find a single case report associating induction cooktops with something bad happening from a pacemaker perspective. She says that means people with a pacemaker can still comfortably use an induction cooktop, but that it is worthwhile checking either with the pacemaker manufacturer or with your cardiologist.

As a landlord, will I benefit if I spend the money to switch my rental property to all-electric?

Yes. Landlords also benefit from more energy-efficient properties.

Homes that are comfortable and affordable will encourage happy tenants, helping to ensure a stable source of rental income.

Improving the energy efficiency of a rental property will likely increase the desirability of the property and the rental and capital value. Renovation costs may be depreciable as capital expenses – consult your tax accountant before making decisions. The ACT Government has committed to introducing minimum energy performance requirements for rental properties.

Find more information and resources for tenants, landlords and apartments on the Rentals & Units page.

Can I reduce gas use if I live in a unit with a body corporate?

Maybe. There are many things apartment dwellers can do to reduce their gas usage.

If you own your apartment or townhouse, you may be able to replace appliances if they are standalone units, that is, contained within your property. If the space for a hot water service is constrained, consider a small tank with an instant booster plus low-flow tap fittings and showerheads to reduce water consumption. If you have shared systems like a central gas furnace for heating or hot water, you could use portable appliances instead and investigate turning off the supply to your apartment. Consult an electrician and plumber to understand possibilities and limitations of space, wiring, pipes and metering, etcetera.

Get together with neighbours to lobby your body corporate or building manager to allow or facilitate switching – other tenants, and indeed the body corporate, will also benefit from switching to all-electric. Work with your body corporate to improve energy efficiency, like installing shade awnings over windows and allowing clothes drying racks and split-system air conditioning units on balconies. The ACT Government’s net-zero emissions by 2045 target means that all buildings will need to deal with their gas appliances within the next two decades.

Find more information and resources for tenants, landlords and apartments on the Rentals & Units page.

Are there jobs for gas workers if we stop using gas?

Yes. Gas workers can retrain for jobs in other growing industries.

The gas, coal, oil and mining industries employ far fewer people than most people realise. But the workers are people with families, and no-one wants to find themselves out of work.

However, don’t be worried that switching to electricity will immediately toss gas industry workers out of jobs. There will be ongoing work in the gas industry for many years yet, decommissioning existing infrastructure and appliances. And a proactive transition plan will help retrain gas workers for other industries such as renewable energy and manufacturing. There will always be local jobs in plumbing, construction and electrical trades without gas. Jobs growth is in clean energy, not fossil fuels.

Do all energy sources affect the environment?

Yes. All energy generation has some kind of impact on the environment.

Every energy source has some negative effects on the environment so choosing the best source requires society to consider the full lifecycle of production, use and disposal for each and weigh up the impacts, costs and benefits both globally and locally. This is complex because of the wide variety of materials that are used to construct energy infrastructure and the diverse kinds of impacts on communities, landscapes, ecosystems and individual species.

Solar panels contain silicon, plastics and metals and require or produce chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, hydrofluoric acid and cadmium. The industry is constantly researching and innovating to source or make these materials responsibly and safely recycle old panels so that they don’t become toxic waste.

Wind turbines require rare earth elements such as neodymium and large quantities of steel and concrete. Mining limestone for the concrete can pollute water sources. The turbines can injure flying wildlife unless responsibly planned.

Gas extraction involves drilling and pumping chemicals deep underground, potentially disturbing and polluting aquifers, soil and oceans. The pipe networks and processing plants require metals, concrete and other materials.

All three occupy large areas of land, although in some cases the land may be simultaneously used for other purposes. The location of gas wells is dictated by underground reservoirs that do not distinguish between wilderness, farmland or ocean floor. Wind turbines are often sited on hilltops or offshore where windstreams are strongest. Solar arrays require less land per unit of energy produced than wind and are more flexible to arrange so are often built on previously cleared land or rooftops. Transmitting electricity from wind and solar requires power lines. Transporting gas requires pipelines. All three use water at some stage of production.

In all cases, environmental regulation and transparency, accountability and compliance are essential through the entire planning and production lifecycle to minimise and manage environmental impacts.

Although the environmental impacts of solar and wind must be addressed and managed, the global warming impact of gas outweighs other factors. And in all cases, the less energy we use, the better.

What are Suburb Zero, Electrify Canberra, Electrify Everything and Rewiring Australia?

Imagine this: every home in your suburb is electric…

Electrify Canberra is a volunteer community group with the mission to electrify Canberra households because it’s the quickest way to reduce our energy bills and minimise our impact on the environment.
Electrify Canberra’s vision is inspired by Rewiring Australia and the work of Saul Griffith to ‘electrify everything’.
‘Suburb Zero’ is the group’s campaign for funding to electrify an entire Canberra suburb as a pilot project across the spectrum of housing types.
Although Electrify Canberra shares a similar mission and some overlapping people with other Canberra organisations (including us!), it is independent of the Make the Switch project and the Conservation Council ACT Region.

Electrify Everything's illustration of an all-electric household

Electrify Everything’s illustration of an all-electric household.

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