Should You Go Gas or Electric for Your Water Heater?
Gas or electric?
This question is becoming more common, and with water heaters, it’s no different.
If your water heater needs replacing, you’ve probably asked (or have been asked) the same question.
But what’s the difference? Besides the obvious (powered by gas vs. electricity), there are some details about each to consider before buying.
How water heaters work
Before taking the plunge into the world of water heaters, it’s helpful to understand the differences between your options.
But first, let’s begin with the basics. Water flows into your home via a network of pipes.
This water is typically quite cold at first, and heating the water requires, you guessed it, a water heater.
You know, that large and unsightly tank sitting in the basement.
On the outside, it looks rather unremarkable, other than its size. But the inside contains an array of devices which make your morning showers so pleasant.
Water heaters work by heating the incoming cold water and retaining the heated water within the tank (unless it’s a tankless water heater, then the water is heated on-demand).
Heat rises, and in a water heater, it’s no different.
Cool water flows into the bottom of the tank. As the water is heated, it rises to the top where it awaits to flow to the showerhead or faucet.
Below you’ll discover the basics of how both a gas and electric water heater operate, as well as some pros and cons of each type:
Gas water heaters
Gas water heaters use a burner at the bottom of the tank.
A venting shaft runs through the middle to dispense of carbon dioxide and water vapors outdoors.
- Gas is less expensive than electricity
- Heating is more efficient
- Higher hot water flow rates
- Requires connection to gas lines
- Requires additional venting systems
- Greater initial costs
If your home is already connected to a gas line, consider going this route.
Gas burns clean and heats water more efficiently than an electric unit.
Electric water heaters
Electric water heaters utilize large coils submerged in the water.
Electricity is passed through these coils until the water is heated.
- Easy and inexpensive to install
- Electricity rates are relatively stable
- Little maintenance required
- Not as efficient as gas
- Lower hot water flow rates
- Not ideal for large families
If your demands for hot water are minimal, an electric unit might be your best option.
Electric water heaters aren’t as efficient as their gas-powered counterparts.
However, their ease and low cost of installation make them attractive options for those working with a tight budget.
What to consider before buying
While there is no specific formula for selecting the right water heater for your home, there are a few key items to consider:
How much are you willing to spend?
Depending on your needs, you can get away with spending a little or a lot.
You can easily spend thousands of dollars on the best and the latest, just ask yourself if it’s really necessary.
Availability of space
Is space within your home limited?
Some heaters are smaller than others, so it’s important to compare your water heating needs with the amount of space available.
Efficiency and flow requirements
Do you have a large family?
You might want to purchase a larger unit if multiple people will require hot water.
Nobody wants to listen to their loved ones complain about the water temperature, so make your decision accordingly.
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