This or That: Gas vs. Electric Water Heaters

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Homeowners tend to overlook one of the most energy draining products in their home, the water heater.

Twelve percent of every dollar spent on your energy bill goes directly to heating water. Recent updates to the design of many water heaters have made them exceptionally energy efficient. The average water heater has roughly a 13-year lifespan, so purchasing a water heater can be quite a commitment. The two types of water heaters available on the market are gas and electric, each offering unique benefits. How do you know which one is right for you?

Gas water heaters take about a third of what it costs to heat the same amount of water with an electric water heater, so you’ll see substantial savings in operating costs with gas. Gas water heaters do, however, require a larger upfront investment as well as a natural gas outlet that some homes need to have installed. Gas water heaters also need extra safety precautions — they need to be vented outside as well as have regular seal maintenance on the combustion and power venting to increase safety. After the initial investment, however, gas water heaters are more economically and environmentally responsible in the long term.

Electric water heaters typically cost less upfront than gas water heaters. They are easy to maintain and require no venting or combustibles. However, electric water heaters take longer to heat the same amount of water than gas water heaters. Because they use electricity, electric water heaters can have significant impacts on your electricity bill if not properly maintained or insulated. If you choose an electric water heater, you may want to consider utilizing a solar hot water system to help save on electricity. Find out more about solar hot water systems.

No matter which model you choose, your water heater will be one of the largest consumers of energy in your home. You may opt for tankless or on-demand water heaters that heat water only as it’s being used. These water heaters can save you between 10-20% on water heating costs and come in both electric and gas models.

What are your experiences with gas and electric water heaters? Have you found one to be better than the other? Leave your answers in the comments.


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