A hot water heater is one of the most important aspects of any home, and homeowners have to consider quite a few factors in determining which will work best for their needs. With so many different options available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed during the decision-making process. Choose incorrectly, and you could face discomfort in your home without hot water on demand, along with higher maintenance costs and the risk of water damage.
Finding the right kind of water heater will typically come down to choosing between electric and gas water heaters. There is no universal right answer, so you will need to consider your unique needs before committing to one path over the other. Fortunately, a seasoned New Jersey HVAC/plumbing professional can help when it comes to the evaluation, installation, and maintenance of a water heater throughout its lifetime. Vaughan Comfort Services has the expertise necessary to help you find a water heater you’ll be satisfied with, so take a closer look at the gas vs. electric water heater dilemma.
Like the name suggests, an electric water heater is a water heater that uses high-voltage electricity to generate heat. Electricity is run through heating rods that are oriented vertically in the center of the water tank. The heat from the heat pump then radiates outward, heating up the water in the tank and allowing for hot water to travel through the pipes in your home to the faucet.
A gas water heater heats the water in the tank by utilizing a gas-fired burner on the bottom of the tank. With this orientation, the water begins heating up at the bottom of the tank closest to the heating element and then travels upward before being sent through the pipes in your home whenever you need hot water.
A gas water heater could be the perfect fit for your home, but it all depends on your unique circumstances. Here are the pros and cons to keep in mind.
A gas water heater functions independently of your electric grid. If you ever face a power outage, a gas water heater can still offer hot water with which to shower or cook. Additionally, gas water heaters tend to have lower operating costs compared to their electric counterparts because they use less energy, and it only takes a short period of time to heat up the water.
While gas water heaters have much to offer, there are some downsides of which to be aware, like the fact that some homes don’t even have a natural gas hookup to begin with, which means higher upfront costs. You would have to get a gas energy source installed, and that is a costly operation even before considering the cost of the standard water heater itself. Gas heaters tend to have shorter overall lifespans than electric water heaters, and you don’t have as wide of a range of sizes from which to choose.
Many homeowners thrive with an electric water heater in their home because it offers an easy solution they can count on for their hot water needs. Take a look at some of the benefits and downsides of electric heating.
Electric water heaters are safe and clean when operating, and they can be quite energy-efficient if you need hot water immediately. You don’t ever have to worry about relighting them either because they don’t use a pilot light. Because every home is wired for electricity, you will also find that electric water heaters are much easier to install.
The downsides of electric water heaters primarily center around operating costs. It can be more expensive to operate an electric heater compared to its gas counterpart due to the lower cost of natural gas. While electric heaters can heat water quickly, they are not as fast as gas heaters. Additionally, they do not operate during power outages, so losing electricity means only having cold water.
The installation process for gas water heaters and their size variants can be complicated, so it is important to know exactly what you are getting into first.
When installing a gas water heater, the most important factor to keep in mind is whether your home has a gas service. Some newer homes are entirely electric, while some older homes have undergone changes to become entirely electric. If you do not have a gas service, there will be nothing to which the gas water heater can connect.
Installing a gas service can be a costly endeavor, and you may not see the savings of a gas water heater unless you don’t plan to upgrade for a very long time. If you already have a gas service, however, it is simply a matter of connecting the water heater to the gas line. An experienced South Jersey HVAC/Plumbing professional can take care of that aspect for you to avoid problems like gas leaks and heat loss.
Gas water heaters come in different sizes, but the overall range isn’t very significant. Because of the limited size options, you’ll need to make sure your home has the appropriate space for a gas unit. Gas heaters are relatively large compared to some of the available options for electric water heaters, so they are especially popular in homes that are occupied by large families or otherwise need a higher amount of hot water. The size of the tank typically ranges from 40 gallons to 100 gallons, and with a big family that uses much hot water, the more gallons, the better.
If you opt for an electric water heater, you will need to make sure that it gets installed properly and is the right size for your home and needs. Fortunately, getting an electric unit set up properly is one of the primary benefits of choosing electric over gas.
Installing an electric water heater is simply a matter of connecting it to your plumbing and your electrical system. Given the simplicity of it, many homeowners are more than willing to do it themselves, though you can always opt for help from a professional if you prefer. Overall installation costs tend to be lower, allowing you to offset the savings with a higher-quality water heater if you like.
If you decide to install an electric water heater on your own, make sure you follow the instructions carefully. While relatively easy in theory, the actual process leaves room for errors that can lead to serious problems. Remember, water heater problems stemming from DIY installation can turn into severe water damage.
The available sizes of electric water heaters are quite varied, offering more options than you would get from their gas-powered counterparts. Electric water heaters are especially useful if you don’t have that much room for a water heater and need something small. Specifically, the smallest water heaters tend to be around 6 gallons, while most are closer to 50 gallons. Some, especially large heaters, can hold up to 80 gallons.
The actual energy cost of a gas or electric water heater varies depending on a wide variety of factors, but there are some general trends to keep in mind. Given how easy electric water heaters are to install, you will generally have much lower upfront costs compared to getting a new gas water heater. Despite the higher initial cost, however, the month-to-month operation of a gas model tends to be cheaper than the cost of electricity for an electric water heater.
If you are interested in long-term savings and are planning to ride your new water heater out for as long as possible, a gas heater may be the most economical option. The installation costs will be more significant, but operating costs for water heating are far lower the longer you keep using the same water heater. For homeowners who aren’t looking for big investments at the moment but need a new water heater, an electric water heater can get the job done while letting you save on installation. Just be prepared for the power bill each month.
While gas and electric water heaters have several differences, longevity doesn’t tend to be one of them. How long a water heater lasts is more a matter of whether you opt for a tank water heater or tankless water heater than whether it’s electric or gas-powered. Even so, electric models overall tend to last a bit longer than their gas counterparts. If you provide the proper maintenance, an electric water heater’s higher operating costs and energy bills may be offset by savings in the long run because you likely won’t have to replace your water heater as often.
The kind of water heater you need depends on what you want to get out of yours and how your home is set up. Whether you’re ready to install or need help finding the right high-efficiency model, Vaughan Comfort Services is happy to help. Our team of trained and experienced professionals can help with all of your HVAC/plumbing needs, from repairing and servicing water heaters you already own to installing brand-new ones regardless of fuel type. We can even help set up a gas line in your home if you want to make the transition to a gas heater. Our team has served the South Jersey area for decades, and we are ready to assist you.
NJ LIC. NO.13VH01727600
Robert W. Vaughan,
Master HVACR Contractor Lic. # 5842
Thomas J. Weaver,
Master Plumber Lic # 9521