Do Apartments Use Gas or Electric Heating?

Josh Mitchell

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Josh Mitchell

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Key Takeaways

  • Apartment can use either gas or electric heating.
  • Gas heating is generally more common in older apartments whereas electric heating is common on newer apartments. Electric heating, except for the operational cost, has a better overall benefit in terms of safety, installation and maintenance.
  • You can check what heating system you have through many ways like physical inspection and checking your utility bill or lease agreement.

Winter in an apartment brings its cozy charms, but it also raises questions—like what’s powering the heat that's keeping the cold at bay?

I’ve lived in a few places where it wasn't exactly clear whether I was racking up a gas bill or an electric one just to stay warm.

So, I turned my curiosity into a little personal project, researching the ins and outs of apartment heating.

Now, I've got a good handle on the most common type of heating used in apartments.

Which is More Common, Gas or Electric Heating for Apartments?

The short answer to which is more common is it varies.

In my hunt to figure out what was heating my apartment, I found that it largely depended on the building's age and location.

Heating systems can be a patchwork of historical and economic factors. Natural gas is a no-brainer in some places due to its cost-effectiveness and availability.

However, electric heating, especially in apartments, has been gaining ground because of the lower upfront installation costs and is considered more energy-efficient.

On top of that, there's a convenience factor with electric heaters—no worries about gas leaks or the need for a carbon monoxide detector, which is a huge relief for landlords of apartment buildings.

TL;DR: The location and age of the building can often determine whether it uses gas or electric. Older apartments often use gas, whereas, newer apartment use electric heating.

Electric Heater Vs Gas Heater In Apartments: Which Is Better?

I dug into the nitty-gritty of both heating systems to see which one might be better for my comfort without cranking up the costs.

Let's dive into the details and weigh out electric against gas.

Which is Easier to Install?

Electric systems take the lead when it comes to installation.

They're generally less complex than gas systems, without the need for extensive gas lines or venting.

Installing an electric heating system is often a simpler and, thus, more cost-effective process.

On top of that, in many modern apartments, the infrastructure favors electricity over gas, making it a more straightforward choice for builders and residents alike.[1]

Which is Easier to Maintain?

Electric heating systems win again in the maintenance department.

Without the complexities of gas systems—think carbon monoxide risks and the need to inspect gas lines—electric heaters are simpler to maintain.

They typically have fewer moving parts to replace or service.

A bit of regular cleaning and the occasional checkup are usually enough to keep an electric unit running smoothly.

Maintenance simplicity is one reason for electric systems' popularity in homes and apartments.[2]

What is Their Lifespan?

Electric ones outlast gas heating systems.

A typical electric furnace can warm your home for up to 20 to 30 years, which is quite a stretch compared to gas furnaces.

This longer lifespan is thanks to fewer mechanical parts that could fail.

Important Note:

Remember, the longevity of your heating equipment also hinges on regular maintenance—something that will fall on the landlord of your apartment building unless otherwise stated in the lease.

Which is Costlier to Operate?

Gas heating often hits the wallet less than electric when it comes to utility costs and heating costs.

In my ledger, the energy bills during winter months consistently showed gas as the cheaper option.

It's the efficiency of gas in generating heat that generally keeps the money outflow in check.

Don’t just take my word for it.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas has historically been more economical for heating compared to electricity, which is reflected in the bills I've compared with electric-only friends.[3]

Which Carries the Lowest Safety Risks?

Electric heaters typically carry lower safety risks compared to gas heaters.

The lack of combustion in electric heaters means no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, a serious concern associated with gas appliances.[4]

I've had both types in different apartments and always found the electric heat pump to be less worrisome without the need for regular carbon monoxide monitoring.

TL;DR: Except for the costlier cost to operate, electric heating offers more benefits in terms of higher safety, easier installation, easier maintenance and longer lifespan.

How To Know Your Apartment’s Heating Type?

Figuring out the heating type in my apartment became part detective work, part asking around to my landlord or property manager.

Here’s how to determine the heating system of your apartment building:

Check Heater’s Name Plate

The easiest way to determine your heating system is by checking the nameplate.

It told me the model and heat source, cluing me into whether it was working to generate heat or create heat through electrical resistance or gas combustion.

Do You Have a Gas Meter in the Building?

Another way is to check any gas meter in your apartment complex.

If there is, it won’t be tucked away in some corner but will be clear as day, showing if gas flows through the building.

Does the Apartment Have a Boiler or a Heat Pump?

It’s also worth checking if your building has a boiler or heat pump. My old place had a boiler in the basement, a sure sign of a water-based heating system.

However, in my new home, it's a heat pump doing the heavy lifting, a dead giveaway of an electric setup.

Check Your Apartment's Cooking and Heating Appliances

The presence of gas ovens or gas stoves will tell you that your apartment has gas lines, which could mean gas heating.

Conversely, electric stoves indicated an all-electric approach. Either way, these appliances played a part in finding out what keeps my home warm.

Analyze Energy Consumption and Costs

Peeking at my energy bill was an eye-opener—it reflected my apartment's energy habits.

In my old place, I noticed that my electric bills rose during winter, meaning my heater runs on electricity.

Pro Tip:

For those running on electric heaters, check if it’s Energy Star certified, as it will help you pay less on your utilities.

Look Into Your Lease Agreement

Digging into my lease agreement was a goldmine.

It detailed whether my place was heated with gas or electric, including the presence of a gas oven or air conditioning specifics.

This knowledge was key in understanding my rent and the benefits included, like whether I could control temperatures in different rooms like my bathrooms.

Is There an Exhaust Vent?

An exhaust vent can be a telltale sign of gas heating, necessary to whisk away combustion byproducts.

No vent usually means electric heating, which is cleaner overall.

Check Utility Bill for Natural Gas Consumption

The utility bill didn't just speak dollars and cents; it also revealed whether gas was part of my monthly expenses, hinting at the heating type.

Perform a Physical Inspection

Getting hands-on and inspecting the equipment—from ductwork to pipes—gave me the full picture.

It's a bit technical, sure, but seeing where and how the heat was delivered settled any lingering questions about the type of system installed.

TL;DR: You can perform physical inspection of the building, meters, HVAC system, cooking appliances, or look at documents such as utility bills, lease agreement to determine what heating system you have.


6 Ways Apartments Can Be Heated

  1. 1
    Mini-Split And Multi-Split Air Source Heat Pumps:
    These can be gas and electric-powered and are a slick fit for individual rooms, offering both heating and cooling without extensive ductwork.
  2. 2
    Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Heat Pump Systems:
    Usually electric, these sophisticated systems allow for precise temperature control, perfect for apartments craving customized climates.
  3. 3
    Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner (PTAC) Units:
    Often seen in hotel rooms, these electric units sit snugly in the wall and can be used as heating and cooling systems in one.
  4. 4
    Forced-Air Systems: Natural Gas Furnaces And Electric Furnaces:
    Whether it's a gas flame or an electric coil, these systems push out warmth through your apartment's vents.
  5. 5
    Steam and Water Boilers:
    Typically gas-fueled but can be either gas or electric, boilers send hot water or steam through pipes to radiators, enveloping rooms in gentle heat.
  6. 6
    Radiator Heating Systems:
    These old-school charm radiators, often heated by gas, provide steady warmth, making winter mornings a bit easier to face in older buildings.

FAQ (Common Questions Asked)

Does an Apartment’s Heating Source Impact Your Utility Bills?

Yes, an apartment's heating source does impact your utility bills. Gas heating can be cheaper than electric, especially if you're using a gas oven or stove, which doesn't require the energy used to generate an open flame.

How Can You Save Money on Your Heating Bill When Living in an Apartment?

You can save money on your heating bill by ensuring your space is well-insulated, using a programmable thermostat, and taking advantage of natural sunlight for warmth. Also, consider layering up before turning up the heat to keep costs down.

Wrapping it Up

Apartments may use gas or electric heating, and knowing which warms your space can affect everything from tenants’ utility bills to how you keep your home comfortably warmer.

Whether it's the steady blue flame of gas or the silent radiance of electricity, both have their place in our urban nests and properties.

References: 

  1. https://www.iea.org/energy-system/buildings/heating
  2. https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=30672
  3. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/use-of-natural-gas.php
  4. https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Releases/2006/CPSC-Warns-Of-Hazards-from-Furnaces-Space-Heaters-and-Fireplaces
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Josh Mitchell

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Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

My Favorite Home Appliance?

Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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