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The time has come. Your hot water heater needs repairs and is over 10 years old, or has stopped working altogether, and your local plumber suggests installing a new water heater. Popular choices include a gas water heater or an electric water heater. The differences between them, and their pros and cons, will be discussed below to help weigh your options.

Gas vs. Electric Water Heaters: Which to Choose?

Water heating can account for up to 18% of your utility bill, according to the Department of Energy. Size is an important factor, as is the fuel source. Water heaters vary in size: a single-family unit can hold anywhere from 20 to 100 gallons. You can gauge a unit’s size by its capacity and the amount of hot water it can deliver in the first hour, or its first-hour rating (FHR).

You can also compare input ratings; gas water heaters range from 30,000 to 180,000 BTUs, while electric water heater input is measured in terms of power, from about 1,440 to 5,500 watts. But overall, gas heaters have higher FHR values as they tend to heat water faster. Ultimately, your choice may be limited based on access to energy or fuel. Most homes are connected to the electrical grid. However, not all homes have a natural gas connection.

Gas Water Heater: Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros of gas water heaters:

  • Lower cost of operation: A gas water heater costs less per month to run because natural gas costs less than electricity. If your home has a natural gas line installed, there is a fuel source already in place.
  • Heat water quickly: Gas units heat and reheat water faster than electric models do, saving time as hot water is more readily available from faucets and fixtures.
  • Operate during a power outage: If the gas utility is still operating, you will receive hot water, as a gas water heater does not rely on electricity to function.

Here are several cons of gas water heaters:

  • Higher upfront costs: Installation costs are higher, especially if you switch from electric to gas, which may require running a new gas line and creating a vent in the side of your home.
  • More maintenance: Gas lines must be checked for leaks and particulate buildup. Vents may require cleaning, while sediment buildup in the tank can cause problems.
  • Additional safety concerns: A problem with a gas water heater can release carbon monoxide into your home, while a gas leak can be a fire and explosion hazard.
  • Not as energy efficient: Venting of spent gas results in the loss of some heat, while an electric system converts nearly all the energy it uses into hot water.

Electric Water Heater: Pros and Cons

Here are some key pros of electric water heaters:

  • Lower installation costs: An electric water heater must be plumbed and grounded, but it does not require a gas connection or venting. The installation process is generally simpler and quicker.
  • Less maintenance: Electric models can also collect sediment in the tank, which needs to be flushed; but overall, there are fewer maintenance requirements to consider.
  • Fewer safety concerns: There is no risk of a gas leak. So long as electrical connections and sources are maintained, there’s no explosion risk.
  • Higher energy efficiency: No heat is lost during the process, as little energy is wasted in heating water electrically.

Below are some cons of electric water heaters:

  • Higher monthly/long-term energy cost: Electric hot water heaters cost less to install, but you may have a higher utility bill each month, resulting in higher long-term costs.
  • Don’t heat water as quickly: The use of an electric heating element, rather than a source of combustion, means water is heated at a slower rate.
  • Won’t function during a power outage: Since the unit relies solely on electricity, a blackout or other disruption in power will cause it to stop working, so hot water won’t be available when reserves are depleted.

Have Water Heater Questions? Contact Detour Plumbing

When you need a Santa Clarita plumber for your hot water heater needs, contact Detour Plumbing. We are providing plumbing services throughout Southern California during the coronavirus pandemic, taking steps such as social distancing, sanitization, and no contact service to protect employees and customers. When you need water heater repair, we can fix any problem; if you require hot water heater installation, our team can help you choose a system that is most suited for your home and that may may help lower your energy bill. Call 661-424-9820 now to schedule an appointment.

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