The sad truth is that water heaters aren’t built to last forever. Most last 10-15 years at best, and if it’s time to get a new one, you might be wondering what type of water heater to get next. Finding the right water heater should take some careful consideration as you’ll want something that best works for your home. There are several individual factors to consider when choosing a water heater, but ultimately it may come down to two choices: gas or electric.
What You Need to Know When Choosing a Gas Water Heater
According to the Department of Energy, heating water is the second largest expense in your utilities. The fuel source for your water heater is one of the biggest factors to consider, as you may be limited to what you can use without further services and gas is generally a cheaper fuel source than electric. If you’re picking gas as your fuel, you’ll also want to consider what type of water heater to install such as tank or tankless. A gas-fueled tankless water heater for example, is usually more difficult to install than an electric tankless water heater because a home’s existing venting ducts and gas lines are rarely compatible. The following factors are important to consider when choosing gas.
- Gas costs less to operate. Regardless if you choose a storage tank or tankless water heater, gas is usually always cheaper to operate than electric. Depending on utility rates the cost difference between gas and electric for your monthly utility bill can be up to ten dollars. Gas is the cheaper fuel source because it heats water faster and uses less energy doing so.
- It takes less time to reheat water. A gas water heater generally only takes an hour to heat up a 50 gallon tank, which is several hours faster than an electric water heater. With a gas water heater, water is kept hot at all times, which can be convenient, especially for large households.
- It can heat water during a power outage. Depending on gas water heater type, you water heater can still heat water in the event of a power outage. Gas water heaters with a continuous pilot light, for example, should run just fine even if the power goes out. Gas water heaters with an electric pilot light can still run as long as they don’t rely on the main electricity line. If your gas water heater needs to be plugged in, however, it likely needs power from your main electricity line and can only run for a few days at best.
- It’s not as energy efficient. There’s no hiding the fact that gas water heaters are not as efficient as electric water heaters. The lack of efficiency comes from how much heat is lost from exhaust gases, and what heated water isn’t used. Since a gas water heater constantly heats the water inside, it’s constantly using energy.
- It can be a safety hazard. The biggest problem with choosing gas isn’t the lack of efficiency, but potential safety hazards. Since a gas water heater uses gas to heat water, it means there’s a risk of a gas leak if not properly maintained.
What You Need to Know When Choosing an Electric Water Heater
Although they’re generally more expensive, electric water heaters are highly energy efficient and usually the safer option because they don’t use gas for combustion. An electric water heater is flexible, less complex, and usually easier to install. Choosing an electric water heater generally gives more options to choose from in terms of size and placement, but there’s still the matter of cost to consider. An electric water heater may be cheaper to install, but the utility costs can be more expensive. When considering electric, here are a few things to consider.
- Electric water heaters are cheaper to buy and install. Water heaters are expensive. If you’re concerned about the installation costs, electric may be the better option. Since electric water heaters are less complicated with fewer parts, the unit itself is cheaper than gas, and cheaper to install. A quality gas water heater can cost up to $1,000 while a quality electric water heater can cost only $500.
- Electric water heaters can be very energy efficient. One of the best perks of electric is the efficiency, because there is no standby loss of heat, you can save a lot of energy and money on your utility bills. Electric water heaters even have the option to install a timer which can automatically cut power to the unit during hours of little to no use.
- You don’t need to ventilate. An electric water heater doesn’t combust gas to heat its water, which means it doesn’t need to ventilate and can be placed anywhere as long as there’s access to electricity. Electric water heaters are much smaller and fit in spaces such as a closet or somewhere out of the way.
- Higher life expectancy. Compared to a gas water heater, electric water heaters are much simpler in design and usually last longer because of it. When problems occur, an electrical water heater makes it easier to detect and repair issues.
Sometimes it’s Best to Have a Professional Opinion
Your plumbing is complicated, and there are several different factors to consider when choosing a new water heater. A licensed plumber knows how to help, especially if you’re uncertain about which water heater will work best in your home. Your next water heater is an important appliance, which is why it’s important to make sure you get the best one. No homeowner should regret replacing their water heater, call a plumber today.
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