Gas vs Electric Water Heater

Gas vs electric water heater. Which is best? Are you looking to go green, the most economical to own or one that produces the most hot water.
 

How about the easiest to install and maintain? Which is safest and quietest? This page covers gas and electric residential water heaters.


Gas Versus Electric Water Heater - Which is Greener?

Here in the US we are lead to believe that gas water heaters are greener. This, I believe, is not necessarily true.
If your electricity is produced at a coal fired power plant, it is believed electric water heaters are "dirtier" because of emissions released into the atmosphere by the coal to power them.
 
Considering the fact that most gas water heaters release large amounts of carbon dioxide and energy (heat) into the atmosphere through the exhaust vent, I am not so sure we can say gas is greener across the board.

If your power is produced at a hydro-electric dam, a wind farm,or a
solar farm an electric water heater would be absolutely clean and green.
All three produce clean energy.

Most Hot Water - Gas or Electric Water Heater

A gas water heater can produce more hot water in a given period of time than an electric water heater can.
Unless you have a large family needing to take multiple showers back to back you probably would never notice the difference.

Cheapest Water Heater to Purchase - Gas or Electric

Electric water heaters are by far the cheapest units at the checkout counter. Gas water heater prices have risen steadily the last several years to accommodate the FVIR rule put in place by manufactures and gas associations.

Most Economical Water Heater to Own

Energy Source
The cheapest energy source to heat water depends on where you live. Propane fuel prices sky rocket every winter in most places. So natural gas or electric would be cheapest in most areas.

In much of the north west, electric is cheaper than natural gas. In much of the the north east, natural gas may be cheaper.

Take the price per kilowatt from your electric bill and the price per therm from your natural gas supplier and use this formula to compare the two at this page.


Lifetime Cost
Gas water heaters are by far the most expensive to own. All gas units in the U.S. are manufactured according to the Fvir rule initiated in 2005.
If you are not familiar with Fvir water heaters you can read more here.

The problem with these water heaters is keeping the filter, air vent and spark arester clean.
When they become clogged the burner will shut down. If the fresh air went is located in the bottom of the unit, under the tank, the manifold assembly will have to be dismantled and cleaned.
If the safety switch does not reset itself a new switch will be needed. The gas control valve may also need to be replaced.


With water heaters usually placed in out of the way dusty places, the air filter (if it has one) and the intake air vent and spark arester must be cleaned regularly depending on your situation.

On average an electric water heater will need elements and/or thermostats replaced once or twice in its lifetime.


Gas vs Electric Water Heater
Life Expectancy

Electric water heaters are generally expected to last longer than a gas unit.
The burner/manifold flame on a gas unit comes in contact with the bottom of the tank causing the glass liner to crack and rust to speed deterioration of the tank.
Electric elements only come in contact with the water.

Safest and Quiet - Gas vs Electric Water Heater

In my opinion an electric water heater would be the safest and quietest.

If the sediment is not removed from a gas water heater on a regular basis, it will settle on the bottom of the tank and cause a rumbling sound when the burner fires. As the sediment builds, rumbling will get louder.


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