Gas vs Electric Water Heater: Which One is More Energy-Efficient?

tankless water heater on wall

When it comes to household appliances, it’s always best to go with the most energy-efficient choice. As a homeowner, energy-efficient appliances are vital for saving money and energy, protecting the environment, and improving your overall lifestyle. The more energy-efficient appliances you utilize in your home, the lower your utility bills will be, and the more you’ll be doing to protect the environment from harmful gases like carbon dioxide. When it comes to water heaters, many homeowners wonder which is more energy-efficient: gas water heaters or electric water heaters.

At Office H2O, we have a passion for always steering people towards the most environmentally friendly practices. Choosing the most energy-efficient water heater is one of the best ways to reap the benefits of an environmentally friendly product. Today, we’ll be answering your questions about whether gas water heaters or electric water heaters are more environmentally conscious. With this information, you can make the best decision for your household when selecting your next water heater.

Water Heater Types

According to the Department of Energy, heating water is the second-largest expense in our homes, accounting for between 14% and 18% of our utility bills. For this reason, picking the right water heater is an important decision not only when it comes to your comfort but also in terms of doing the most you can for the environment while saving on energy costs. In total, there are four different types of water heaters you can consider, available in both gas and electric models:

  • Standard
  • High efficiency
  • Point-of-use water heaters
  • Solar

Most water heaters are powered by either the gas or electric fuel type. Which type will be most reasonable for you will primarily have to do with the kind of energy available in your home. To give you a better idea of the pros and cons of each water heater type, we will provide a brief description of each.

Standard Water Heaters

The most popular option for a water heater is the standard water heater which uses either a gas flame or electric heating element. Depending on your overall utility costs, it should be noted that gas water heaters tend to be cheaper to operate than electric. That being said, based on energy savings, gas heaters generally make up the difference in price within the first year of ownership. A standard water heater usually carries an average lifespan of between eight and fifteen years.

High-Efficiency Water Heaters

As you can likely determine from the name, high-efficiency water heaters (HE) is by far the most energy-efficient water heaters you can buy. High-efficiency water heaters come in both gas and electric models. Most gas-fired water heaters have an energy factor (set by the U.S. Department of Energy) to help consumers compare the overall efficiency with similar models. The higher the energy factor number, the more energy-efficient the appliance is.

Suppose you want an electric high-efficiency water heater. In that case, your option is a heat pump (also known as hybrid) water heater. These are the only electric water heaters certified by Energy Star, and they tend to be more expensive than gas high-efficiency models.

While electric high-efficiency water heaters are more expensive than standard water heaters, they can still pay back the difference in price in less than two years because of how much you’ll save on your energy bills. Overall, an Energy Star-certified high-efficiency water heater uses up to 65% less energy than a standard electric water heater. Electric high-efficiency water heaters also have an average lifespan of between eight and fifteen years.

Point-of-Use Water Heaters

Point-of-use water heaters augment your home’s whole-house water heater by providing hot water for a specific application, such as using your kitchen faucet. This reduces the overall amount of water wasted when you’re waiting for your water to turn hot. Most point-of-use water heaters are electric and come in various gallons capacities. It should be noted that Energy Star does not certify point-of-use water heaters.

Solar Water Heaters

Finally, solar water heaters have the power to cut your overall water heating costs in half when compared to using a standard water heater, gas, or electric. Solar water heaters have an average lifespan of 20 years. They are best suited for warm to hot climates as their energy savings are reduced on cold and cloudy days. Solar water heaters tend to be much more expensive than traditional water heaters, so you’ll want to view this as an investment that will pay off in the long run with use.

Gas Water Heaters: Pros and Cons

Now that you know the various types of water heaters as well as whether they are available in gas and electric models, you’re likely still wondering whether gas water heaters or electric water heaters are the most energy-efficient choice. To answer this question, we must first look at the pros of each variety. Let’s start with gas water heaters.

Pros of Gas Water Heaters

Gas water heaters, put simply, tend to have higher initial costs than electric water heaters but also cost less to operate. As a general rule of thumb, the more expensive a water heater is upfront, the better a unit will run. That being said, you will spend more on a gas water heater than an electric water heater upfront, which you should consider. Again, however, gas water heaters cost less to operate because, in many areas of the country, the cost of natural gas is lower than the cost of electricity.

Cons of Gas Water Heaters

Still, there are various factors that you should consider when choosing between an electric and gas water heater: efficiency and performance should also play an important role. Unfortunately, gas water heaters are so popular because the cost of natural gas is lower than the cost of electricity. This doesn’t mean, however, that gas is more energy efficient than electricity. Gas water heaters are less energy efficient than electric water heaters. We’ll talk about that more in the next section.

Electric Water Heaters: Pros and Cons

There are many reasons that homeowners should consider installing electric water heaters in their homes. Still, there are essential cons that you should know about when it comes to electric water heaters. Here’s what you should know about electric water heaters, starting with their advantages.

Pros of Electric Water Heaters

The best way to compare the overall efficiency of various water heaters is to look at their energy factors. When looking at the energy factors of gas water heaters compared to electric water heaters, the winner is clear: electric water heaters.

Standard gas water heaters typically have energy factor numbers ranging from 0.5 to 0.7, and electric water heaters have energy factor numbers running 0.9 and higher. The reason for such a vast difference is primarily found in how each water heater functions. While a gas water heater uses the most energy during the venting process, there is no venting process in an electric water heater. This makes it clear that electric water heaters are by far the best choice in terms of energy-efficiency.

Cons of Electric Water Heaters

While we may have answered your question about whether gas or electric water heaters are more energy efficient, there are still downsides to an electric water heater that you should know about to make the most informed decision possible. One of the most significant disadvantages of using an electric water heater versus a gas water heater is, as stated, the difference in operating costs.

Gas water heaters are much less expensive to operate long term. Overall, you’ll likely spend less money running a gas water heater than using an electric water heater. Still, because the costs of both natural gas and electricity vary by region, you should compare the price of each before making your final decision. Because of how much you’ll save on your utility bills, an electric water heater may still save you money long term, all while allowing you to do more for the environment.

Doing More for the Environment with Office H2O

Now that you know that electric water heaters tend to be the more energy-efficient option, we hope you’ll take the pros and cons of each water heater type into consideration when purchasing your next water heater. With an electric water heater, you’ll be doing more for the environment overall. Still, you may be wondering what else you can do to benefit the environment, and we have the answer: purchase a bottleless water system from Office H2O!

At Office H2O, we have a passion for positively impacting the environment, and we deliver the power to be more environmentally friendly with our bottleless water systems. Our systems eliminate the need for disposable plastic water bottles while granting you convenient access to fresh, great-tasting water anytime! Please browse our selection of bottleless water systems and find the best choice for you today.

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