Gas vs. Electric Water Heaters

Electric Water Heater

Electric Water Heater

Which is better, a gas or electric water heater? Plumbers are asked this often, and the answer isn’t exactly black and white. While it’s true that gas is generally cheaper than electricity, there are several other factors that may or may not offset your hot water energy savings. Consider the following when deciding between electric and gas water heaters:

  • Installation cost
  • Life expectancy
  • Convenience and usage needs
  • Environmental concerns

1. Water Heater Installation Cost

Do you have gas lines to running to your home? If you don’t already have gas service, you’re looking at a price tag of potentially thousands of dollars. Converting to a gas water heater requires gas-fitting service by a licensed gas fitter, modifications to the piping and installation of a proper venting system.

Related: 3 Things to Consider When Installing a New Gas Line

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 heater operation is estimated to cost $25-$30 per month, 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.

Related: Best Water Heater Features

2. Water Heater Life Expectancy

Because they don’t suffer the corrosion and deterioration that gas heaters experience due to the flame on the bottom of the tank, electric water heaters generally have a longer life span. On the other hand, your water composition can reduce the life expectancy of an electric heater. Private well water is much more likely to contain heavy iron concentrations and corrosive minerals that accumulate in the tank. Homes using municipal water usually have a softer water quality that can get the most out of electric water heater tanks.

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3. Convenience and Usage Needs

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 which carries an average recovery rate of about 14 gallons per hour. Unfortunately, heating a larger amount of water still translates into greater energy consumption.

4. Environmental Concerns

Gas water heaters are one of the cleanest burning fossil fuels, yet they still release carbon into the air. With an electric unit there are no emissions and considered more environmentally friendly. Replacing water heaters and other appliances with Energy Star models can both save money and lessen environmental impact.

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Gas + Electric Water Heaters—How to Choose?

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. All this being said, the best water heater depends on your priorities.

Regardless of which you choose, Robinson’s Plumbing is happy to help you decide among the water heater options on the market. 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 technicians can install all types of water heaters, and our team is comprised of experienced and licensed gas fitters.

Contact Robinson’s Plumbing today at 804-621-7056.

Robinson’s Plumbing Service is a full-service plumber and gas fitting service serving Charlottesville, and Richmond, VA.