Gas vs. Electric Water Heaters: An in-depth Comparison for Everett Residents

By Danika | August 11, 2022

Gas vs. Electric Water Heaters: An in-depth Comparison for Everett Residents

a comparison between gas and electric water heaters

A home without hot water is a nightmare. It’s uncomfortable. It’s inconvenient. And it can be downright dangerous if the water is too cold to shower in or bathe a sick child in, for instance. With that comes the need for water heating solutions: solutions that will heat water to a safe, comfortable temperature. But with so many options available such as gas and electric water heaters, how do you find the right solution for your home? That’s why we’re breaking down gas vs. electric water heaters in this article. 

This post will provide an in-depth comparison between gas vs. electric water heaters. It includes the pros and cons of each type of heating system, as well as information regarding their differences. This analysis will help you choose a water heater that best meets your needs and gives you the most bang for your buck.

rheem gas vs. electric water heaters

Gas water heaters:

Gas water heaters use gas to heat water (you guessed it didn’t you?!). The most common type of gas used is natural gas, but other options include propane and liquid petroleum gas (LPG). Gas water heaters typically have a storage tank that holds a set amount of hot water, and the water is heated as needed. To ignite the burner, a pilot light is used. Once the burner is lit, the water in the tank is heated to the desired temperature and then maintained at that temperature until it’s used.

Pros:

  • Faster water heating than electric heaters
  • Lower operating costs than electric heaters
  • Can heat water even during a power outage
  • It’s easier to install. Gas water heating systems can be installed by anyone skilled at basic DIY projects.

Cons:

  • Requires a gas line hookup
  • Requires more maintenance than electric heaters
  • Emits carbon monoxide, therefore proper ventilation is essential
  • Less efficient due to heat loss
gas and electric water heaters for homeowners

Electric water heaters:

Electric water heaters are powered through a connection with your home’s electrical system. They typically have an electric coil that heats the water as it passes through it. There are two options available for electric heaters: tank-type or tankless.

Tank-type electric water heaters store heated water in a tank and the stored hot water is dispensed as needed. The drawback with this type of water heater is that not only is the tank fairly large, but it’s also hard to install in areas where space is limited.

On the other hand, there are tankless electric water heaters that don’t hold heated water, but rather heat and deliver hot water as needed. 

Pros:

  • Electric water heaters are available in both tank-type and tankless models.
  • Tankless models are more space-efficient since they don’t require a storage tank.
  • Electric water heaters are less expensive to operate than gas models.
  • It’s generally safer than gas water heaters since there’s no risk of gas leaks.

Cons:

Differences in the installation process

The replacement and installation process for a gas water heater is generally more involved than that of an electric water heater. This is because, in addition to connecting the water heater to your home’s plumbing, you’ll also need to connect it to a gas line. This means that the installation process for a gas water heater is typically more expensive and requires more skills than an electric installation.

On the other hand, electric water heaters are relatively easy to install. In most cases, all you’ll need to do is connect the water heater to your home’s electrical system and then to your plumbing. This makes electric water heaters a good option for do-it-yourselfers or for homeowners who want to save on installation costs.

water heater in closet

Range of sizes available

Both gas and electric water heaters are available in a range of sizes to meet the needs of different households. Gas water heaters tend to be available in larger sizes than electric models, so if you have a large family or high demand for hot water, a gas model may be a better option.

Gas water heaters begin with size options as small as 20 gallons and as large as 100 gallons. Electric water heaters, on the other hand, typically range in size from 6 to 50 gallons. However, some larger electric models hold up to 80 gallons of water.

Costs of Ownership

The initial purchase price is only one aspect of the total cost of ownership for a water heater. You also need to factor in the costs of installation, operation, and maintenance over the lifetime of the unit.

Upfront costs

When it comes to upfront costs, gas water heaters tend to be more expensive than electric models. This is because they require a gas line hookup, which can add to the cost of installation. Electric water heaters, on the other hand, are usually less expensive to install since they only require a connection to your home’s electrical system.

Operating costs

In terms of operating costs, electric water heaters are typically more expensive to operate than gas models. In most states, the cost of natural gas is usually lower than the cost of electricity, so it’s cheaper to heat water with gas.

Take into consideration the fluctuation of gas prices. Gas is expected to rise significantly in the upcoming years. Although Seattle has recently seen some minor relief at the pumps, the bigger picture suggests higher prices in the long run.

Chart showing gas prices in Seattle from 2021-2022
Image source: Seattle Times

Lifespan

Electric water heaters also tend to have a longer lifespan than gas models, so they may end up costing less in the long run. You can make up your operating costs by owning an electric water heater 2-3 times longer than a gas heater.

Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, both gas and electric water heaters require some basic care and maintenance. However, gas water heaters may require more attention because of the risks associated with gas leaks. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the care and maintenance of your water heater to keep it operating efficiently and safely.

Safety considerations

When it comes to safety, electric water heaters have a few advantages over gas models. First, there’s no risk of gas leaks. Second, electric water heaters are less likely to cause fires. But this does not rule out the possibility of an electrical fire.

Always follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions and have your electric water heater inspected regularly by a qualified technician.

Some safety features are common to both gas and electric water heaters. These include temperature and pressure relief valves, which are designed to release excess pressure and prevent explosions. Both types of water heaters also have an automatic shut-off feature that kicks in if the water heater starts to overheat.

Heating rate

The rate at which a water heater heats water is an important consideration, especially if you have a large family or high demand for hot water. Gas water heaters typically heat water faster than electric models. This is because the burners on a gas water heater can produce more heat than the heating elements on an electric unit.

The recovery time is the amount of time it takes for a water heater to heat a given amount of water. Gas water heaters tend to have shorter recovery times than electric models. This means they can heat water faster after it’s been used.

hot water recovery in shower

Energy efficiency

The energy efficiency of a water heater is an important consideration, both for the environment and your wallet. Even though electric models have a low heating rate, they don’t have to get rid of combustion gases. This means that you’ll lose less heat overall with an electric heater since all energy is used to heat the water. Gas units lose energy through the gas byproduct.

To be precise, electric heaters run at 98+% efficiency whereas gas heaters top off around 80-85% efficiency.

Lifespan

The average lifespan of a tank gas water heater is about 8 to 12 years. Tankless electric water heaters have a longer lifespan and can last an average of 15 to 20 years or more. However, proper care and maintenance can determine how long your water heater will last.

To get the most out of your water heater, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for care and maintenance. This includes things like regularly flushing the tank to remove the sediment buildup, descaling, and making sure the anode rod is in good condition.

Environmental friendliness

If you’re concerned about the environment, electric water heaters have a few advantages over gas models:

  • They don’t produce emissions.
  • They’re more energy-efficient.
  • They have a longer lifespan.
  • They are better for the environment overall.
  • They can be powered by renewable sources such as solar and wind power.

Make an informed decision comparing electric vs. gas water heaters

Choosing between a gas and electric water heater can be difficult. In this in-depth article, we’ve compared the two types of water heaters so you can make an informed decision about which one is best for your home. We’ve looked at the cost of installation and monthly energy usage for both gas and electric water heaters, as well as how long each type of heater lasts.

Gas water heaters are typically more expensive to install than electric ones, use more energy, and tend to last shorter periods. Electric water heaters are cheaper to install but use less energy and last longer. Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on your specific needs and budget. Contact us today, your preferred water heater contractors in Everett.

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