Hot Water Tanks: Gas or Electric?

Which Hot Water Tank Is The Better Choice?

Gas water heater flameWhether you’re building a new home or anticipating a hot water tank replacement, you may be wondering which is the better choice: electric or gas. In order to answer this question, we need to look at operating costs, performance and efficiency. Both types can be high-efficiency, so be sure to research the individual models you are considering and check their efficiency ratings before making a choice. Here is what you need to know about operating costs and overall performance.

Operating Costs

Because electricity rates fluctuate quite a bit, it’s been the experience of our staff and customers that electric water heaters end up costing noticeably more to operate than gas. One of our plumbers who recently made the switch found that his new gas water heater paid for itself in about 5-6 months when compared to the cost of operating his electric water heater. Gas water heaters do cost more upfront but more than pay for themselves in the difference in operating costs.

Performance

A gas water heater delivers a higher volume of hot water and has a much lower recovery time — meaning that when you run out of hot water, you should only need to wait about 20 minutes for more as compared to about an hour with an electric water heater. An electric water heater can often provide enough hot water for a small family but they don’t tend to be a great option for a family of four or more. If your household needs a larger volume of hot water, gas is definitely the right choice for you.

Making the Switch

If you’re thinking of switching to gas, it will be easiest in an undeveloped basement, because you’ll need to vent the water heater outside. This can also be accomplished in a developed basement providing your technician can gain proper access — we can tell you whether your developed basement is set up in a way that will allow for the venting of a gas water heater.

Homebuilders are installing electric water heaters in most new homes now, but if you have the option, it’s worth considering both options and deciding what is best based on your family size and needs. Electric water heaters are cheaper upfront but will cost more over time to operate and have much slower recovery time.

Also consider the maintenance that will be required of your new water heater — some manufactures of electric heaters recommend that you use a water softener in your home to prevent scaling on the elements of the water heater. Gas water heaters require just regular maintenance.

If you’re having trouble deciding which is the best option for you, or need to know whether your home is set up to make the switch from one type to the other, give us a call. Of course we are available for installations as well! We’re happy to help you make sure you’ve got the best water heating option for you.