Gas Water Heaters vs. Electric Water Heaters

gas water heater

One of the most important appliances in your home is something you don’t think about is your water heater. While that’s a good thing, once a decade passes, you’re going to want to start thinking about replacing it before your water heater fails. 

Nowadays, there are many choices, but it all boils down to gas water heaters or electric ones. For some, the choice is simple: if your house isn’t hooked up to gas, then you have to choose electric. But for most, you do have the ability to choose between the two. So, what’s the difference?

Both gas water heaters and electric ones are rated by their input, which is the measurement of gas or electricity used per hour to heat the water in the tank. Gas is measured in BTUs and electric heaters are measured in watts. 

The average input ratings for a gas water heater range from around 30,000 to 180,000 BTUs, depending on size. Generally speaking, the more BTUs, the faster the unit will heat water.

For Electric water heaters, the average input ranges 1,440 to 5,500 watts, and the same principle applies—the higher the wattage, the more quickly the unit will heat water.

The Cost of Gas vs. Electric

Like with any home appliance, the cost depends on how big, new, efficient, and high-quality the water heater is. The more expensive unit, the more likely it is to have a longer lifespan, be more efficient, and save you more money in the long term.

Gas and electric water heaters differ greatly in cost, though you’ll have to think beyond the initial payment to get a fair comparison. Gas water heaters are more expensive than electric, but they cost less to run (as gas is generally cheaper than electricity), while electric water heaters have a cheaper price tag, but often cost more in monthly electric bills. 

Which One is More Efficient?

This one is not as easy to answer, as some electric water heaters are more efficient than gas, and vice versa. Efficiency is measured by EF ratings — the higher the EF rating, the more efficient the water heater is. 

Many will be comparable, especially models made by the same manufacturer and ones that are similar sizes. However, certain types of electric-powered models—including heat pump and hybrid heat pump units, described below—have the efficiency advantage.

Though if you’re looking at a gas and electric unit of vastly different qualities and age, always go for the newer model that is higher quality.

Which One Heats Up Faster?

If you’re looking for a unit that heats up faster, gas is the way to go. This is because electric heaters often rely on drawing heat from the surrounding air to get going. If you’re in a warmer climate, you may not notice the difference, but if you experience cold winters or mild climates, you may want to consider a gas water heater. 

The pinnacle of efficiency in an electric water heater is the heat pump unit. Before you buy, do some research to see if the unit can withstand what you need it for. 

There are also hybrid options available for heat pumps. Hybrid heat pumps allow the consumer to choose different operating modes for different situations to increase the appliance’s efficiency. For example, most hybrid heat pump units have a vacation mode that reduces operating costs when no one is at home. Depending on the model, you could save up to 80 percent on hot water costs by choosing a hybrid heat pump over a standard water heater. 

There is a downside to hybrid units though. Most of them must be installed in a large area — at least 1,000 square feet — and are not appropriate for small utility closets. 

What About Tankless Water Heaters?

Tankless water heaters come in both gas and electric options. They heat water as you use it, opposed to storing it in a tank, which means they can be up to 35% more energy efficient. These are an entirely different breed and rely on “flow rate” measurements, so be sure to consult with an expert before purchasing one. 


The style of water heater, not what fuels it, determines how long it lasts.

For both gas and electric, tank water heaters last an average of 10 to 13 years, and tankless units last up to 20 years or longer. The average for electric heat pump water heaters is 12 to 15 years.

When in Doubt, Call The Experts

Get peace of mind and great service by hiring trained plumbers and technicians. They are highly knowledgeable on plumbing, building codes and technology innovations.

Need a job done as soon as possible? Economy Plumbing Service will always answer the phone. They provide comprehensive, first-rate service on every call. Their work is done on time, exactly to specifications, no matter the task. If you need a new heater heater, they have your back too. Call them today

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