Gas or electric?

For rehabs on Section 8 properties, if the service for the water heater, stove, and dryer were electric instead of gas, the rehab would be somewhat faster and cheaper, not to mention eliminating the calls for pilots lights gone out on the water heater (I don’t supply stoves so that’s a non-factor)…Have any of you had any negative comments about this, since gas is typically cheaper than electric, and more people seem to have gas dryers and stoves rather than electric…Just want some opinions if this is the better way to go…Not as convenient or as cheap for the tenant, but wondering is this could be a deal killer for many tenants?

I’m also wondering about using electric baseboard heaters over the gas furnaces whenever ductwork has to be run for a gas furnace (I have that situation in 2 houses)…The baseboard heaters would be a lot faster and cheaper to install, so I think I’m going with that since the utility bill shouldn’t be too bad for them from what I’ve heard…

Thanks for your input…

Gas is not cheaper than electric. In fact, gas prices are so high that Section 8 will allow a significantly higher rent with an all electric house than with gas. For example, I had a 3 bedroom house here in Ohio that Section 8 would only pay $450 with gas heat, but would pay $562 with electric heat. I installed electric baseboard heat and am collecting the $562.

In addition, tenants want all electric. I can’t tell you how many tenants will sigh and hang up when they here that a house has gas heat. Tenants want electric!


What’s the cost of the electric baseboards compared to a furnace? What’s the lifespan?

You have to know your local market. I don’t get any resisitance to electric heat from my tenants.

I like to have heat pumps, but in any kind of bad area it wouldn’t be worth the risk of having the outdoor unit stolen.

If I had units where the tenants provided their own dryers and their own stoves and most had gas appliances, I would run gas lines to those locations and also have them wired with 220 plugs.

No big deal while you are renovating anyway, and it is just one more little thing that might help to rent the house out faster. If all you have are electric hook-ups, all the tenants who own gas appliances are going to move on to the next rental and not take yours.

I am in a n area where winters are very cold, and one thing that I do for all my houses is to have at least one heat source that will run without electricity. Maybe not to heat the entire house to 80 degrees, but enogh to keep the plumbing from freezing.

It’s for me, so I don’t have to repair frozen plumbing, but the tenants love it, knowing they will have heat if the power is out.

Thanks for your input…Looks like all electric will be the way for me to go in the future when these issues come up…I also remember one of my first Section 8 tenants who couldn’t get her gas stove hooked up without it leaking gas…I went ahead and had the HVAC guy come out and hook up a new (ANOTHER new) fitting for the stove, which I think she actually damaged when trying to hook up her stove originally…He didn’t charge me for it but what a pain in butt it was to do all that…Then we had to trace back and refit a section lot of the gas line in the basement because of a pinhole leak that we finally found…Gas can be a definite pain over electric when you’re installing new…

I researched the cost of electric baseboard heating today…Amazingly it costs about 4 cents per hour to use a 48" baseboard heater unit, according to the electric costs here…So I can see the only complaint being if the tenant already has a gas stove or gas dryer, but hey, you can’t have everything when you’re getting free rent, right!!!

Cake - Go to and type in “baseboard heater” in the search…It’ll bring up all the units…Not sure about their lifespan but I was surprised at how little it costs for the basic units ($36 for a 48" unit, $49 for a 96" unit, etc.)…They have higher end units, and liquid filled units, but I’d definitely stick with the lower cost units since you don’t know if they’re going to get torn up anyway by furniture, etc…A typical bedroom should only require either a 48" or 60" unit, so the price is minimal compared to getting a new furnace unit installed, especially if you have to run new ducting…A guide that I came across on Google said to take the CUBIC feet of a room, and multiply that by 4 if the insulation is poor, 3 if average, and 2 if good…You’ll need a unit that handles that many BTU’s…The BTU rating is given on the product description on the website…It also gives the wattage, so if you look at an electric bill to find the cost of a kwh, you can calculate how much it’ll cost the tenant to run the units (in case they ask, at least you can give them a reasonable answer and probably make them feel at ease about the cost)…

Thanks, I think I may give it try also. Especially with all these properties for sale with missing furnaces in the area.

Just went to Lowe’s yesterday…In addition to the prices I listed above, add about $12 for a thermostat for each unit…Might add $80 or so per unit…I’m still trying to figure out if one thermostat can control all the units simultaneously but haven’t found any info on that yet…Seems like it should be possible…I’ll let you know what I find out…

I would hope you could use 1 thermostat, it’s probably how you wire all the baseboards up. The wiring has to be the biggest pain I would imagine and I really dislike handling electricals.

Suggestion: if you are going to install single room electric heaters, take a look at the cadet style wall heaters. They do a good job and don’t take up much space.

The trouble with baseboard is that it takes up a lot of wall space and you can’t trust tenants to not push furniture up against them

Electric is typically two to 3 times as expensive as gas. Basically you can use gas to fire a turbine and that’s about 60% efficient max, then you’ve got line losses from the transmission. Generating heat from electric is pretty close to 100% though. That’s why section 8 pays more. I guess it might be a local thing as one of the advantages of electric is that you can set the temperature in each room. The other problem with electric is that you may have to upgrade the wiring in the house as you could be adding an additional 20-40 amp load and the electric service to the property might need to be upgraded especially if it’s an older house. Also I guess what tenants like is somewhat local as around here they all hate electric. Gas bills around here can be as high as 300-400 a month in the winter, you can just imagine what it would be if were electric.

I appreciate all your replies…I’m going to go with the wallboard heaters on my current rehab and will let you know if any tenants are turned off by the fact that their heat will be electric rather than gas…I’m interested in the answer myself…

Here in ohio i use both gas and electric. the trick i use is instead of using my furnace to heat a 3500sqft 3 story house i use a 30,000 btu gas stove to heat 1000sqft in the living room, dining room, kitchen and then use an 1500w electric heater to heat the laundry room and bathroom (no vent in there for furnace), for fear of pipes freezing. i didn’t use it last night and woke up went to the bathroom and it was 40 degrees in there, no kidding.

to figure out how much elec. you’ll use check your bill and get your $ per kwh. take my 1500w heater and divide by 1000 to get your kwh which is 1.5 and then times that by 24hours a day (our however long you have it on) and that is how much it costs. my avg elec bill is 55 dollars. if i would leave my elec heater on all day it would double my electric costs. if i used one of those in each of the 5 major rooms in the house i would be paying more than my gas bill to heat the house. last gas bill was 234 dollars.

on the other hand the baseboard heaters i haven’t looked into but you could find out the wattage and get a good idea how much it will actually cost you.

Yes you can wire multiple baseboards to a single thermostat, just need to make sure the thermostat is rated for the total usage.

There are wiring diagrams on the net that will show you how to properly wire them up in parallel.

Gas is typically a more efficient way of heating things than electricity. People might be afraid of gas though. I know that I sometimes am…

A gas furnace is not more efficient that electric baseboard heat. Electric baseboard heat is nearly 100% efficient, while furnaces are not. However, depending on the price of electricity as compared to the price of gas, either electric or gas heat could be cheaper.