When choosing a new hot water heater, there are many options available and considerations to make. One of these is to install a gas hot water heater or an electric hot water heater. Each offers a set of advantages and disadvantages, including efficiency, ease of installation, maintenance, and upfront costs.
A more efficient hot water heater will save money every month on the cost of operation. Some of the most efficient hot water heaters are the tankless options, and both a tankless and traditional hot water heater is available in both gas and electric versions. An electric hot water heater will be more efficient than one that operates on natural gas due to a difference in the venting system. Gas will require venting of the used fuel, which will also allow for some of the heat to escape with it, while an electric water heater is a closed system that will not lose heat outside of the system. Gas hot water system installations that are labeled as high efficiency will use less energy than others and will offer an improved efficiency will less lost power, making them the only high-efficiency hot water heaters on the market.
The installation cost of each water heater version will vary depending upon what system is already installed and what hookups are available. For example, suppose a gas water heater is already installed. In that case, it will be easy to switch it for an upgraded or new water heater, as the connections are all available and simply need to be disconnected from the old unit and connected to the new one. When switching from a gas hot water heater to an electric one, that gas connection can be capped, and the electric installed using the electrical and plumbing that is already in place. Moving from an electric heater to a gas heater is more complicated, as the gas connections may not be prepared. This will need to be plumbed for the gas supply and connected and related to the electrical for the pilot light and the plumbing for the water.
The maintenance on each of these styles of hot water heater is relatively equal. The water heater should be cleared out periodically to avoid debris building up on the bottom that will shorten the lifespan of your appliance, and they should be inspected for signs of wear and tear, rust, and any signs of corrosion. A gas vent will need to be inspected and cleaned to ensure no blockages or buildup, and gas lines will be reviewed to ensure safety.
Initial costs must fit within the budget for the replacement and the installation and the ongoing costs of maintenance and usage. For example, electric hot water heaters range in cost from $300 to around $700 in price, and the installation fees average $700 to $1,000. A gas hot water heater will average $400 to $800 with installation averaging anywhere between $1,000 where gas lines and venting is already in place to $2,000 when this additional plumbing needs to be installed.