The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

gas vs. electric oven usage cost

mcs's picture

gas vs. electric oven usage cost

I know most people have a preference for using either gas or electric ovens.  For those of you shopping for a new or used one to purchase, I thought I'd point out the basic costs of running them so you can weigh out the pros and cons using your local electricity or gas costs.  I'll base this example on the two ovens I use; one is electric and one is gas (LP).

Electric ovens are rated in watts used per hour or KWH (thousands of watts per hour).  So an oven that is rated at 11,000 watts uses 11 Kilowatts per hour or 11 KWH.
The electric company bases their charges on KWH, mine is $.057/KWH.
That means my electric oven costs 11 x $.057 = $.63 per hour to run.

Propane and Natural Gas ovens are rated in BTU/hour (here anyway).  My LP oven uses 60,000 BTU per hour.  It takes approximately 1 gallon of propane to burn 90,000 BTU.  So my oven uses (60,000/90,000) .67 of a gallon of propane to run for 1 hour.  Since propane cost me $2.19 per gallon, my running cost per hour is .67 x $2.19 =  $1.46 per hour.

Of course these are approximates based on the manufacturer's specs, plus different ovens take longer to heat up than others and retain their heat more or less. 
There you go.


blaisepascal's picture

Poor use of units happens to be a pet peeve of mine.  And you did some decent mangling of them here, at least on the electric side.

Watts are a unit of power, or energy used per unit time.  The units of energy used with Watts are either Joules (a Watt is defined as 1 Joule per second) or kiloWatt-hours, with 1 kWh being the amount of energy used at a rate of 1000 Watts for 1 hour, or 3,600,000 Joules.  "Watts per hour" is not a unit anyone uses (or at least I've never seen it used and I can't think of any situation where it would make sense).

Think of it this way:  Wattage is a rate, like speed.  Your car's speed is measured in miles per hour (mph) or kilometers per hour (km/h).  If you know you've been going 100km/h for 3 hours, you don't say you've gone 300 "km/h per hour", you say you've gone 300km.  Similarly, if you've run your 11kW oven for an hour, you don't say you've used 11kW per hour, you say you've used 11 kWh.



mcs's picture

I didn't know such a pet peeve existed, but I definitely do now. I was trying to put it into layman's terms, but apparently didn't succeed.

As gaaarp would say, "I sit corrected".


holds99's picture


As a Certified Observer of the National Association For Prevention of Mangling of Electrical Units I'm required by the Rules of the Association to write up a report on this incident.  I will certainly include your reference to "3,600,000 Joules" in my report.  I can assure you that the Authorities will NOT be happy about this wanton waste of precious Joules.


SteveB's picture

OK... is a joke about the family joules just too easy?  :)



mcs's picture

...that a family joules joke didn't even cross my mind?  Actually I think it would be quite appropriate.  Go for it.


holds99's picture

Yep, "family joules" works for me.  I'm going to get some letterhead printed with CONAPMEU.  That has a nice ring to it.

Hang it there.  Enjoy your blogs very much.


Bad Cook's picture
Bad Cook

I read recently that it now costs more to heat with gas than with used to be the other way around. 

I personally would prefer a gas cooktop and an electric oven, but units with this feature are out of my price range.  The main reason I'd like a gas cooktop is so that I could still cook when the electricity is out (although I do hate cooking on electric stoves in general), which it was fairly often in the past few years due to hurricanes and tornadoes.  One of our water heaters is also gas, so we could do ok during power outages if I could just cook! 

Marni's picture

I remember learning many years ago that electric ovens heated more evenly, that gas ovens had hot spots. 

I now have an electric wall double oven and both of them heat unevenly.  It's a fairly high quality oven and has been checked over a few times.  My first oven was gas and also heated unevenly. (That's why I tried electric this time.)

Does anyone else notice a difference between gas and electric this way, do all ovens heat unevenly, or is it just the few I've owned?


LindyD's picture

My experience with electric ovens is limited, but when I have used one, it took a heck of a lot longer than my own gas oven.  It wasn't my oven so I don't know if the oven heated evenly.

That oven was an older model.   With my newer gas oven, the technology seems to have improved considerably.  I have a brand that touts an "accubake" feature, claiming the electronics will maintain the same temperataure throughout the oven.  It's about a year old now and the oven temp still remains consistent throughout (I use two thermometers).  Breads, cookies, whatever, come out evenly baked without having to turn them.

Another factor I think we tend to overlook, and one I read about in an Alton Brown book, is that uneven heat can also be caused by a dirty oven. Ash and gunk from spills slow heat transfer to the oven's interior.

When I had to replace my stove, I swore I'd never let it get to the state of my previous (very messy) oven.  So I clean up spills and wipe down the entire oven weekly.  A job better suited to a house elf, but somebody's got to do it...

ericb's picture


Thanks for posting that information. I'm always amazed at the cost of propane. Of course, I live in coal country where the utility company practically pays me to use electricity, and we have natural gas, so energy is pretty cheap for me. I guess propane is the only option for many people, though.

One of my favorite "energy" sites is the eccentric Mr. Electricity. His point of view is that the average person shouldn't worry too much about the energy used in cooking, because it pales in comparison to the energy used in cooling/heating your home, refrigerator, and water.



mcs's picture

Bad Cook -  Here in Montana it's definitely cheaper to cook with electricity. About 7 years ago, propane was cheaper, but now gas costs twice as much.  I would think for emergencies you could get one of those double burners that hook up to your BBQ propane tank.  You could only use it outside, but they seem to work well for tailgaters.
Marni - I think all ovens heat unevenly, just to different degrees.  The quality ovens tend to retain heat better, but still have hot and cold spots.
LindyD - If you ever get ahold of that house elf, send him my way.  I've got lots to keep him or her busy.
Eric - Yes, Mr. Electricity is absolutely correct.  It's the same with worrying about the lights in your house even though the cost is very small.  As for heating water, I'm putting an 'instant on' electric heater under my dishwashing sink at the bakery to at least save some propane costs there.


Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

...We could go on and on about this, so many types of ovens, varying costs of fuel sources, thermal methods, etc.

I have become very happy with the newer Electric ovens, as I've already said.
It's not as much about the cost of the fuel as the way they move heat and the thermal effeciency while keeping a well balanced ambient condition.

The Electric ovens I use now only cost $700, reach and maintain 600 degrees in 30 minutes.

In the near future we will more than likely see Electric ovens that re-use energy, using the thermal barrier itself to form a new heat source, recycling as it maintains itself.

Some of the research I did for Ford Motor Company back in the late 80's and early 90's used thesed methods, capturing the heat from automotive heat sources to create fuel sources...This technology works now and is availble for vehicles, which means it can be adopted to Electric ovens soon.

PS - Let's end January with Iz: