Water heaters aren’t exactly the sexiest home appliance to have, but when one goes out of commission, then all hell will break loose. Most of us can’t live without heated water, especially those of us living in cold areas year long. Therefore, it’s extremely important to have a functioning water heater working for us, so we don’t freeze to death when we take unwanted cold showers.
If your water heater comes with a 12-year warranty and today marks its 20th birthday, it might be time to replace it. We already know that tankless water heaters are huge money savers since they don’t have to heat and reheat any unused water constantly. As we draw water from our tap, the tankless water heater kicks into high gear and heats it up using coils. This means the water heater heats up only what you need.
The question now is whether we should purchase an electric tankless heater or a gas-fired one. To help answer this question, it’s important to realize that heating water accounts for upwards of 15% of our total utility bills. Because of this, it’s important to make a purchase decision based on how efficiently each type of tankless water heater uses energy and the estimated total costs per year when owning either an electric or a gas-fired water heater.
A quick internet search will reveal the price of an electric tankless water heater and a gas-fired one. It’s clear that of the two products, gas water heaters require a much more generous wallet to purchase compared to their electric counterparts. The price disparity can be anywhere between $300 and $500.
Gas tankless water heaters are known to be much cheaper to use than their electric counterparts, but take note that their efficiency levels peak at 85%. Electric water heaters can reach an efficiency level of over 98%, meaning that electricity is used much for efficiently to heat water than gas is.
However, the price of natural gas per BTU is considerably cheaper compared to electricity per BTU, so essentially, gas-fired tankless water heaters should be more cost-efficient. This, of course, is ignoring the prediction that gas prices will rise soon, whereas the price of electricity is much more stable and rises at a slower rate.
Installation and Maintenance
Installation-wise, the main difference between an electric tankless water heater and a gas-fired one is the amount of room needed to install each type. There are complex regulations regarding the installation of a gas-fired tankless water heater. Because they use gas to heat water up, there’s a great risk of gas leakages and accumulated fumes in your home. It’s also practically impossible to connect a gas tankless water heater to your existing ventilation system, and it requires you installing a new system to eliminate the risk of combustion (costly).
As for the electric version, this type is extremely compact and is not subject to any ventilation regulations to install. They are also more flexible in terms of placement – an electric gasless water heater can be placed almost anywhere in your home, whereas a gas-fired one needs a large dedicated space. In addition, hiring professional help to install this type of water heater is much cheaper compared to installing a gas-fired model.
Water Flow Rate
The water flow rate indicates how much water is being used by all household appliances and fixtures. For example, your kitchen sink has a GPM (gallons-per-minute) rating of 1.5, your dishwasher is also at 1.5, your washing machine uses 2.0 GPM, and your showerhead uses 2.5 GPM. In total, you’ll need a water heater that can supply heated water at a flow rate of at least 7.5 GPM if you plan on running all your faucets and appliances at once.
Gas tankless water heaters are known to be able to supply greater quantities of heated water than their electric counterparts. On average, gas tankless water heaters have a GPM rating of around 8, whereas the electric version delivers an average of 6 GPM. Keep in mind that the GPM output of your water heater depends on how many faucets and appliances are running, and the greater the water flow, the less heated your water will be.
Most homeowners in the US prefer using electric tankless water heaters, and the reasoning is simple: they’re less expensive to purchase, are easy to install, are cost-efficient (compared to tank water heaters), and provide sufficient amounts of heated water.
In addition, electricity is much more accessible than natural gas or liquid propane, meaning that electricity is available in more homes in America than gas. However, depending on where you live and the cost of fuel in your area, the long-term cost of owning and operating a gas-fired tankless water heater could save you money. It’s up to the user to decide which tankless water heater better suits their household.