Water heaters play an important role in any household, so we notice the lack of hot water pretty quickly. If it is time for a new unit (most newer water heaters last 15 years), take the time to compare gas vs electric water heater and decide which is best for you, your family, and your daily life.
There are many different types of water heaters, from traditional tank water heaters to tankless to heat pump units, to choose from. But the first thing you should consider is how the largest appliance in your home will heat the water: gas or electric.
Gas vs Electric Water Heaters
There are a few factors you should think about when choosing between a gas or electric water heater. After reading through our list of differences, hopefully, you’ll have a better idea of what works best for you.
- Environmental Concerns
How much a water heater costs shouldn’t be the only deciding factor, but it certainly plays a part. If you’re putting a water heater in a rental property, you may not go for the best there is. If you’re installing one for a 3,000-square-foot family home, you want to make sure you get one that can handle the workload.
Generally speaking, the upfront cost of an electric water heater will be hundreds of dollars less than a gas-powered water heater. The amount of hot water they hold, type, efficiency, and so on will affect the price of the water heater, so you’ll want to make sure you know what you need for your home when making a decision.
Every home has electricity, so a standard electric water heater that uses electricity will work in any home. Obviously, gas water heaters need access to gas to run, otherwise, it’s just a really expensive (and large) paperweight. If your home isn’t currently plumbed for gas, the decision is pretty easy.
If you do have a gas line, chances are the existing water heater is gas, too. If not, you’ll need to figure out how much it will cost to run a gas line to the location of the water heater. If it’s hidden away in an upstairs closet, that will be much more difficult than running a line to the garage or to an exterior tankless water heater.
Generally speaking, gas water heaters are cheaper to operate than electric water heating units. However, electric models are actually more energy efficient than gas heaters for a couple of different reasons. Gas water heaters need to expel the spent gas, so venting is needed.
As the gas vents, some of the heat goes with it. There are no such worries when using an electric unit–almost all of the energy is spent heating your water. There is no waste and no need for venting, all of which help electric water heaters maintain a better energy factor (EF) than gas.
There are highly efficient gas units out there (look for the Energy Star label), but you’ll most certainly pay more for them. Another thing to think about: if there is a power outage for any reason, a gas water heater will still be able to operate.
Gas vs Electrical Water Heater Environmental Concerns
As we said above, gas water heaters need to vent the spent gas someway, so it’s expelled outside and into the atmosphere. Again, there is no such concern with electric water heaters. Also, getting natural gas from the ground isn’t the most eco-friendly, either. Electricity, however, can be generated through sustainable and renewable methods.
For the most part, both gas and electric heaters will need similar maintenance. Both types of water heaters should be flushed at least once a year to remove any sediment that may be accumulating. With a gas unit, however, you’ll also want to have the vent cleaned and the gas line inspected, too. With regular maintenance, you may get up to 20 years of use.
There are many similarities here, too. If you’re replacing like for like, the installation process is pretty straightforward. If you’re going from electric to gas or vice versa, the installation gets a little trickier. It’ll probably be easier to bring in an electric water heater to replace a gas unit because there’s already wiring nearby.
That may not be the case if you’re replacing an electric unit with a gas water heater. Not only will you have to bring in a gas line, but you’ll also need to install a vent system for the spent gas. Installation costs of a gas water heater at this point may cost more than the water heater itself!
Safety Concerns When it Comes to Gas vs Electric Water Heater
Whenever you bring gas into the home, there’s always going to be more of a safety concern than if there wasn’t. This isn’t to say electric wiring doesn’t pose its own safety hazards. In both cases, however, this has more to do with the installation of the infrastructure and less with the type of water heater you decide on.
You may also be thinking about stories of water heaters exploding in the home. This is very rare and attributed to pressure building up in a standard water heater, not because of gas leaks. But if there’s a faulty gas valve or another issue with how the unit interacts with the gas, there is a greater probability of a hazardous situation.
There you have it, a solid list of considerations when deciding between gas vs electric water heaters. In most cases, you’ll just go with whatever water heater type you already have in the home–it’s just a simpler proposition. And if you feel strongly one way or another, your decision has already been made.
If you’re building a new home and trying to make the gas vs electric water heater decision, the above should give you enough to make a well-informed decision. And when it comes to replacing your water heater or performing maintenance, consider getting in touch with Meticulous Plumbing. We have more than 30 years of experience and water heaters are a specialty of ours.