Gas Water Heater or Electric – Which is Better?

While the type of energy readily available to your home will typically drive the type of water heater you select, those looking to achieve improved efficiency and cost savings with a hot water heater upgrade often find themselves peeking over the fence to see if the grass is greener on the other side. If your existing water heater is gas or electric, should you switch?

Gas vs Electric Water heater

Which type of water heater is better?

According to research, your best bet for a fuel source is going to rely largely on the type of water heater you select: Traditional storage tank-style or tankless.

  • Storage tank water heaters
    The most common style of water heater, storage tank style models use an insulated tank to store warmed water until needed. With storage tank style models, natural gas is your friend, typically costing less to run by a whopping half according to Consumer Reports. This seems to hold across the board, but could vary slightly based on your local utility rates, so before you go adding gas to your home, it pays to check. It should also be noted, despite energy savings, gas models cost more at the time of purchase than electric models, but based on energy savings, the price difference can usually be recouped in about a year.
  • Tankless water heaters
    Rather than storing water, tankless water heaters warm water as you need it, producing it quickly and efficiently with the help of heating coils. They are a great fit for those that don’t indulge in a lot of simultaneous hot water use (such as turning on the dishwasher and hopping in the shower), however they offer a mixed bag of energy benefits and issues. Natural gas models cost less in fuel than they would in electricity per year, saving you about 10-15% in energy costs (depending on fuel rates in your area). The peak efficiency rates of gas models are lower, however – 80-85% versus the 98% efficiency of electric models, eating up the difference. Is it a draw? That may depend on your home, as dated electrical lines may require an expensive upgrade to provide enough electrical capacity to power an electric tankless model.

How much does it matter?
Water heating comprises about 20% of your monthly energy dollars. The second most costly appliance to run in your home following your HVAC system, the Department of Energy has recently raised efficiency standards for these appliances. Tank style models under 55 gallons now see a 4% boost in efficiency. Larger units (55 gallons or more) offer more substantial savings – a whopping 25-50% depending on the technology used. Turn down your water heater 10 degrees Fahrenheit to net another 3-5% savings. Add to that a more affordable fuel source (where available) and you could save some serious dough.

Ready to gas it up?
A knowledgeable HVAC professional can help you fully understand new regulations as well as the cost/savings benefits off adding a particular model of water heater to your home. To discover how much you could save, schedule a free consultation with an H&H Heating & Air Conditioning technician today.