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Gas vs Electric Water Heater: Which is more efficient?

 Gas vs electric water heater

Hot water heaters last, on average, 13 years. So when it comes time to replace your existing water heater it’s important to do your research and make the right decision for your home.  Water heaters account for about 25% of your energy bill – that’s a pretty large chunk, and is why it often makes sense to spend a little more money initially. The big question that comes up is gas vs electric. Should you buy a gas water heater or electric? Which is cheaper, and more importantly, which is more efficient?

In short, gas (both natural gas and propane) water heaters are more efficient than electric.  It usually costs about 3x as much to heat the same amount of water with electricity as it does with gas (yes, I said THREE TIMES as much).

Check out your current water heater and if you have a gas hook-up accessible for your new water heater. It may make sense to extend your gas lines in order to install a gas water heater, due to the long term financial savings.

ConsumerEnergyCenter.org puts it well:

Look at it this way - some cars get 15 miles to a gallon, while other, more efficient vehicles can go 30 miles or more on a gallon of gas. In the same way, some water heaters use energy more efficiently. Buy one of those and you'll spend less money each month to get the same amount of hot water.

As with most home appliances, water heaters have become much more efficient in the past decade. It’s a bummer to need to buy a new one, but you will probably lower your energy bill each month no matter what you choose to go with. 

Of course, and even better option, environmentally speaking, is a solar hot water heater. Solar hot water heaters use the sun’s heat to warm your water. Initially they are more expensive, but after 4-7 years will pay for themselves in energy savings.

Another option is a tankless or “on-demand” water heater.  Tankless water heaters can save you 10-20% on your water heating energy use by heating only the water you need when you need it.