Electric vs. Gas Water Heater: Which Is More Efficient? 

If you’re not at least a little excited about installing a new water heater, you should be! Finding the right water heater is an excellent opportunity to invest in your home. Choosing between a new electric or gas water heater has both short-term and long-term implications on your family’s comfort, your monthly energy expenses, and the environment.

Natural Gas vs. Electric Water Heaters: The Basics 

Both gas and electric water heaters are reliable options. Each offers a host of benefits and some potential drawbacks.

Here are the basics of how each works. This comparison is focused on water heaters that use a tank, not tankless options.

Electric Water Heater Basics 

An electric water heater is a large tank that heats water using electric heating rods. These rods are positioned vertically inside the tank, usually near the center. These rods heat the water before it’s pumped to other areas of the home.

There are some inherent benefits and drawbacks to heating water with electricity. Here are a few things to consider:

Electric Water Heater Pros 

  • No combustive element (no carbon monoxide poisoning risk)
  • Safe
  • Less expensive than gas furnaces ($850-$1500)
  • Nearly 100% efficient (no on-site energy loss)
  • Wide range of tank sizes
  • Doesn’t go out due to an extinguished pilot light like a gas water heater
  • Easily installed, since all homes have electricity

Cons of an Electric Water Heater 

  • Energy costs are usually higher than natural gas
  • Slower to replenish hot water supply after heavy use
  • Goes out during an electrical blackout

Gas Water Heater Basics 

Natural gas water heaters produce a flame via a small burner near the bottom of the tank. This flame heats water from the bottom up before distribution to the rest of the household.

Natural Gas Heater Pros 

  • Heats water faster than electricity
  • Natural gas is usually less expensive to operate, though natural gas prices have been rising
  • Some models may operate during power outages if they don’t have any electrical components

Cons of Natural Gas Water Heaters 

  • Not as safe as electric (carbon monoxide risk)
  • Slightly shorter operational lifespan compared to electric
  • Less efficient than electric
  • Fewer tank size options
  • The pilot light may need to be relit occasionally
  • More expensive than electric furnace ($2,250-$4,000)

Related: How to Adjust Your Water Heater?

Which Is Less Expensive to Install? 

Electric water heaters are generally easier to install because nearly all homes have electricity hookups. Not every home has gas utility lines installed, which are expensive to incorporate into your home’s energy environment. Learn more about our water heater installation services.

Are Gas Or Electric Water Heaters More Efficient? 

Electric water heaters are more expensive to operate but heat more efficiently. Because the heating rods are submerged and surrounded by water, there’s almost no heat loss. Gas water heaters burn much hotter and heat water more quickly, but fossil-fuel combustion is less efficient, as much of the energy is vented to discharge carbon monoxide, CO2, and other harmful gases.

Which Water Heater Lasts Longer? 

No matter the fuel type, a well-maintained water heater will always last longer than one that isn’t inspected annually. Electric water heaters generally last longer, averaging 10-15 years. Gas water heaters need to be replaced every 8 to 12 years.

Is An Electric Water Heater Better Than Gas for Monthly Costs? 

Both natural gas and electricity rates change seasonally and regionally, so be sure to check your local rates for both energy types for an accurate price comparison. Gas water heaters are generally less expensive to operate than electric water heaters.

Based on national averages, electric water heaters cost $42 a month. Gas water heaters average $30.

Of course, your water usage habits and water heater setting also affect monthly energy costs.

The Verdict 

Most households use a natural gas water heater in the US, though that could change. Natural gas prices have been rising, and some areas of the country are moving to ban new natural gas hookups to reduce carbon emissions and have cleaner local air.

Your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning technician can help you decide which is right for your home.

For All Your Home Comfort Needs, Trust The Professionals 

Gas or electric, water heater installation always requires a licensed professional to keep your home safe. At One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, you can count on friendly, expert service that focuses on finding the perfect home heating and cooling solutions for your family. Request an appointment today or call (800) 893-3523.