Every household needs hot water, which makes heating water the second largest energy user, after heating and cooling.
When it comes to hot water heaters, homeowners can choose between gas, electric or solar powered models.
While each source of power has its own advantages, gas hot water heaters typically offer greater reliability, cost savings, faster water heating time, and more. This is why about 60% of homes in the US use gas hot water heaters, compared to 40% electric.
Lets take a look at what exactly makes gas powered heaters superior to their electric counterparts.
Benefits of a Gas Water Heater
Here are the top reasons why so many homeowners select gas powered hot water heaters.
Get More Water, Faster: compared to an electric model of similar capacity, a gas device can heat and deliver 35-50% more hot water in an hour than a comparable electric tank. This makes gas heaters a lot more convenient and reliable for larger households that use a lot of water at the same time.
Save Money on Operating Costs: while an electric heater is more energy efficient than a gas one, high costs of electricity, make gas devices a lot cheaper to operate. On average, across the US, it costs about 30% less to operate a gas powered hot water heater than an electric one. This figure may be higher or lower depending on the cost of electricity in your location.
Keep in mind, that the lower operating costs are for models that use natural gas, as opposed to propane. In most areas propane gas is equally as expensive or more expensive than electricity.
Quick Recovery Rate: a gas water heater can recover at 3-4 times the rate of a comparable electric device. An average electric tank recovers 14 gallons/hr, compared to 50 gallons/hr for a gas model. Thus, a gas heater allows you to get more hot water from a smaller size tank, which is more energy efficient. A smaller size tank can also save useful space in your house.
Lower Device Cost on High Efficiency Models: on average, a standard gas storage heater can be a few hundred dollars more expensive than a standard electric model. However, high efficiency electric models (heat pump) offer a limited selection and are significantly more expensive than high-efficiency gas storage tanks ($500-1,000 price difference)
Hot Water During a Power Outage: if power goes out, you will still enjoy hot water delivered by your gas heater (this is true of models that use a pilot lights, as opposed to electric ignition).
Important Considerations for a Gas Hot Water Heater
If you are leaning towards installing a gas powered water heater, there are a few things you should be aware of:
Expensive retrofit installation: if your house is not fitted with a gas line, installing one can cost thousands of dollars. A gas water heater (both tank and tankless) requires venting and gas pipe lines. If you already have a gas line, switching to a tankless system will still be very expensive, because it will require more power.
Complex Maintenance: compared to an electric heater, a gas one has more parts and is therefore more challenging to maintain and repair. You also need to consider the potential for an explosion when dealing with gas, which means that if you have no experience dealing with gas appliances, you will need to call a professional contractor to do repair and maintenance on the device.
Takes Up More Space: a gas storage water heater can take up more space than an electric model, because it requires at least 6-18″ of room on all sides for ventilation.
Safety Considerations: when you own a gas powered water heater (or any gas powered device for that matter), there is always a risk for a gas leak or an explosion, which does not exist with electric devices. To minimize this risk and ensure safety for everyone in your household, its critical to have your device professionally installed to meet all building code and safety regulations. As mentioned before, repairs and maintenance are better left to someone who feels comfortable dealing with gas.