A split-screen shot of an electric water heater and gas-powered unit

Electric water heaters are becoming an increasingly popular choice. If you’re considering getting a new water heater, you might be thinking about switching from gas to electric. There are a lot of advantages of an electric water heater over a gas-powered one.

This article will discuss these advantages and how an electric water heater compares to a gas-powered model. We will also list a few disadvantages of electric water heaters or why this type of model might not be for you.

So, let’s investigate!

Advantages of an Electric vs. Gas Water Heater

Electric water heaters are cheaper, more efficient, flexible, and safer to operate than gas-powered models. These benefits make an electric unit worthy of being at the top of your list when choosing a water heater.

However, if you’re still on the fence about getting an electric water heater instead of a gas-powered one, here are some advantages you can get from an electric model in more detail.

Lower Upfront Cost and Longer Lifespan

Electric models are cheaper when comparing the upfront cost of an electric water heater and a gas-powered one. So when you have a tighter budget, an electric model may be more suitable for you.

Cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality—electric water heaters also last a few years longer than their gas-powered counterparts.

Gas-powered water heaters have a lifespan of about 8-12 years. On the other hand, electric water heaters have a lifespan of 12-15 years.

Electricity Is a More Common Utility in Homes

When deciding what type of water heater to get, one significant factor is the power source available or accessible to your home.

In the world we live in today, almost all homes have an electricity connection. Therefore, it won’t be difficult for a homeowner to add an extra electric line for an electric water heater.

A plumber installing a tankless water heater in a bathroom

However, the same cannot be said for a home without gas. If your home does not have a pre-existing gas line, you will need much more time and money before a gas-powered water heater can provide you with hot water.

This difficulty is because you still need to contact your utility provider, secure the proper permits, and consider renovation and material costs to accommodate a gas line.

Flexibility, Ease of Installation, and Operation

Electric water heaters have a more comprehensive range of sizes for you to choose from. These water-heating units can also often be smaller than their gas-powered counterparts.

Because of their variety, it can be easier to find one more precisely suited to your needs depending on your space and water heating needs.

 A tankless electric water heater is even smaller and is sufficient if your household doesn’t use much hot water. 

A tankless water heater installed on a wall

One such heater is the EcoSmart Electric Tankless Water Heater. It’s 90% smaller than most traditional water heaters and has a point-of-use application where you can install it right where it’s needed. 

Energy-Efficient Operation

An electric water heater accomplishes its job by heating rods in the middle of a tank to heat the water around it. Therefore, no energy is wasted as all heat produced by the heating rods goes outward into the water in the tank.

On the other hand, gas-powered water heaters produce a lot of waste heat because they operate mainly using a pilot light that heats the tank from the bottom. So instead of heat going directly to the water, much disperses into the air around it.

You can read more about how electric and gas water heaters compare to each other based on efficiency here.

Safer and More Environment-Friendly

Gas-powered water heaters use a constantly burning pilot light and natural gas or propane as fuel sources. These create the risks of possible gas leaks and fire hazards.

Electric water heaters are much safer to operate as they don’t come with the hazards of a gas water heater. That makes less worry for everyone in your home.

Electric water heaters also function cleaner, as they do not emit gasses that can contribute to air pollution.

There are also options for cleaner electricity sources. You can contact your utility provider regarding where to find wind-powered or solar-powered electricity providers. You can also create your own source of electricity with home wind turbines or solar panels.

A solar heat pump water heater with orange trim on a beige floor.
Solar water heating is very efficient, provided you have sufficient sunlight.

Cases Where an Electric Water Heater Might Not Be for You

With the advantages and benefits discussed, there are some situations where an electric water heating unit may not be for you.

Your Current Gas-Powered Heater Works Well

Generally, natural gas in most states will be cheaper than electricity. Therefore, it will be cheaper to operate a gas-powered water heater.

If your gas water heater is still somewhat new, functioning well, and not nearing the end of its estimated lifespan, it will be better to keep your existing water heater for now.

a grey tank water heater in the middle with wiring and plumbing going to it

Only opt to switch from gas to electric if you have the budget and your current gas-powered unit has operated long enough to make up for the cost, but before a water-heating emergency arises.

Although rare, some homes have easier access to natural gas or propane than electricity. This occurrence is especially true for homes in very rural areas. It wouldn’t make sense to opt for an electric water heater when there is difficulty or no access to an electricity source.

You Have a Very High Demand for Hot Water

Though more energy-efficient than gas, electric heating units take longer to heat water. Electric models also have longer recovery times.

So, if your household has a very high demand for hot water that has to be supplied quickly, an electric unit might be unable to provide the need.

To compromise, you might opt for a hybrid model with electricity as its primary energy source but with a gas water heater as a backup. Hybrid water heaters can also offer you incentives and rebates. You can read more about that here.

Final Thoughts

An electric water heater has many advantages over a gas water heater- energy efficiency, upfront cost, operation safety, and environmental friendliness. So they’re the option you should go with if you need to start looking for new water heaters.

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