Gas vs. Electric Water Heaters

Electric Water Heater

Electric Water Heater

The question of which is better, gas or electric water heaters is asked often. The answer isn’t exactly black and white, it depends on the ease of installation at your specific home, water heater life expectancy, your opinion on environmental concerns and the convenience of use needs. While it’s true that gas is generally cheaper than electricity, each of these factors may or may not offset your savings and impact your decision.

Cost of Installation

Do you already have gas lines to running to your home? If you don’t already have gas service, you’re looking at a heavy price tag of potentially thousands of dollars. Converting to a gas water heater requires a licensed gasfitter, modifications to the piping and installation of a proper venting system. Electric water heaters tend to be easier and less expensive to install, since they don’t have the same requirements. The savings comes in at the daily operating cost of heating water because gas is so much cheaper than electricity. Gas water heaters are estimated to cost $25-$30 per month to operate, whereas electric water heaters average around $60-$65 a month. Now you can see that the installation cost can be easily offset if you already have gas lines to your home.

Water Heater Life Expectancy

Electric water heaters generally have a longer life span because they do not suffer the corrosion and deterioration that gas heaters suffer due to the flame on the bottom of the tank. Your water composition can, however, reduce the life expectancy of an electric heater. Private well water is much more likely to contain heavy iron concentrations and corrosive minerals that can accumulate in the tank. Homes on using municipal water usually have a softer water quality that can get the most out of electric water heater tanks.

Environmental Concerns

Gas water heaters are one of the cleanest burning fossil fuels, yet they still release carbon into the air. Electric, on the other hand, have no emissions and are considered more environmentally friendly.

Convenience of Use

Gas water heaters are much more efficient than electric when it comes to replenishing depleted hot water, in fact they can heat a tank almost as soon as it is filled and have a recovery rate of about 50 gallons per hour. If running out of hot water is a major concern, switching to a gas water heater is likely your best bet. To compensate for this shortfall, you can install a larger capacity electric water heater tank, but unfortunately heating a larger amount of water also translates into more energy consumption and they still carry an average recovery rate of about 14 gallons per hour.

The Bottom Line?

The best water heater for you depends on your priorities. In summary, the benefits of a gas water heater are that they cost less to operate, can save you thousands over the lifetime of the water heater (if gas lines are already connected to the home), and can provide more hot water when demands are high. Pros of an electric water heater are that they cost less to install, have a longer life expectancy and are more environmentally friendly.

Regardless of which route you choose to take, Robinson’s Plumbing is happy to help, whether you’re replacing an existing electric water heater, replacing an existing gas water heater, converting from gas to electric, or converting from electric to gas. Our qualified technicians can install all types of water heaters and we’re also experienced installing gas lines.