Comparing Gas and Electric Water Heaters

Water heating options, among others, include gas and electric tanks.

Everyone needs hot water in their home, whether it’s to bathe or wash dishes. But often people are confused about how to heat their water and they wonder which method will meet their needs.

Here’s a brief look at gas water heaters and electric heaters that can demystify both options.

A gas water heater uses heat from burning fuel to heat your water whereas an electric heater, as the name suggests, uses electricity to heat water.


A water heater’s recovery rate measures the number of gallons of hot water a tank water heater can provide one hour after it has fully drained.

A gas water heater can heat a 50-gallon tank in about one hour, about half the time of an electric unit. This is why gas water heaters are often considered more convenient for large households.

In addition, when power outages occur, gas heaters would still be operational, whereas electric ones would not work.

When you consider recovery rate and the power outage factor, large households may consider the gas heater a better option because the electric tank would experience delays in meeting their hot water demand.


Conventional gas heaters are comparatively inefficient due to the loss of heat from exhaust gas and the tank’s walls. While water is hot at all times, this also means energy is constantly consumed.

Modern heaters are more efficient, and the top-of-the-line heating units are highly energy sufficient. But if you can’t afford these options, here’s how to increase the tank’s efficiency.

Electric heaters are more energy efficient compared to the gas heaters but savings in energy consumption are mitigated by the higher costs of electricity.

Cost and Lifespan

If you compare principal costs, the gas and electric heaters have around the same purchase price. That said, electricity costs more than gas, so with time, the electric heaters would cost more to operate than gas heaters.

Gas heaters have a slightly shorter life span than the electric ones but the difference is not much (gas heaters could last 12 years, wheres their electric counterparts could last 13 years).


Finally, gas water heaters can cost around $250 to $1,500 whereas electric water heaters can cost from $300 to $2880.

So while electric water heaters initially could be more expensive, they also are more efficient, and the consumer must decide what will meet their needs.

Still need help? Read “How to Choose a Water Heater”.


  1. Based on the site, an electric water heater costs more than twice as much per year in fuel consumption as a comparable gas unit would. $93 vs $191. At that rate, you can save more than the water heater itself costs.


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