Which Is Better? Gas vs Electric Tank Water Heaters in Idaho

April 05, 2018

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In the market for a new water heater?

If so, you may be confused on whether to go with a gas or electric tank water heater.

Here are our suggestions:

  • If you have access to natural gas, a gas water heater is always the best option.
  • If you don’t have access to natural gas, it depends on your budget: If you can afford a higher-priced installation, you may still want to consider a gas water heater. If you’re on a budget, consider an electric water heater.

We’ll go into more detail about each of these situations. But first, let’s cover why natural gas is usually the best option...

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If you have access to natural gas, a gas water heater is better

If your home has gas lines installed, your best option is a gas water heater because gas-fired units:

  1. Are cheaper to operate
  2. Heat water faster

Let’s take a closer look at these 2 benefits...

Gas water heaters are cheaper to operate

Even though Idaho has lower electricity rates than the rest of the country, gas is still a cheaper fuel source than electricity here in Boise (i.e. lower utility bills).

So, how much will you save on utility bills with a gas water heater?

Well, it all depends on the efficiency of the water heater and your daily hot water usage. But, to give you an idea of how much you could save, we compared the average annual water-heating costs of 2 hypothetical households—one with a gas water heater; the other with an electric water heater.

The results: The gas water heater provided around $200 savings annually compared to an electric water heater of the same size/efficiency. You can expect even higher savings if you choose a super efficient, condensing gas water heater.

Note: We used Alliant Energy’s Water Heater Fuel Cost Calculator to calculate the estimated savings above. We used Boise’s average utility rates ($.085/kWh and .8/therm) and assumed that the water heater units had similar efficiency ratings and that both households used 60 gallons of hot water daily.

Gas water heaters also heat water faster

Gas is a more efficient fuel source because it heats water very quickly.

In fact, when heating the same amount of water, a gas unit typically heats water twice as fast as an electric unit.

The downside: Gas water heaters are more expensive to install

Don’t get us wrong—a gas water heater isn’t always the best option. One downside is that gas water heaters cost more to install—especially if your home doesn’t currently have access to natural gas.

You see, the cost of a new gas water heater is around $1,000–$1,200—just for the unit itself, not including installation.

And, if your home doesn’t have access to natural gas, installation can cost an additional $1,000+ (for an overall price of $2,200+). That’s because installing a gas water heater in a home that doesn’t have access to natural gas requires:

  • Installing a gas line to your home
  • Installing a second gas pipe to your water heater
  • Adding in a flue/vent to your home

So if your home doesn’t currently have access to natural gas, continue on to the next section for our suggestions on whether you should choose a gas or electric water heater...

Don’t have access to natural gas? Consider your budget

Our suggestions for homeowners who don’t have access to natural gas:

  • If you’re on a budget, choose an electric water heater. Although they’re less efficient, electric units offer much lower upfront costs. The cost of a new electric water heater unit is around $500–$700, not including installation. With installation, that price range increases to $900 to $1,500+.
  • If you’re willing to spend more upfront, choose a gas water heater. But make sure that the yearly savings a gas water heater offers will more than pay back its higher initial cost.

    Tip: Consider how long you’ll stay in your home—the longer you plan on staying in your home, the more you’ll recoup the high upfront install costs (due to utility bill savings).

    For example: If you save $200 every year, and you paid a total of $2,000 for your new gas water heater (install + the unit itself), you’ll need to stay in your home at least 10 years for those savings to pay back that upfront cost.

    So if you can afford a higher-priced installation and are still leaning towards a gas water heater, contact a professional to determine whether the high initial cost of a gas water heater is really worth the monthly savings it promises.

To learn more about the varying prices of gas/electric water heater installations, check out our blog, “How Much Does It Cost to Replace My Water Heater in Idaho?”.

Have more questions? Or are you ready for a new water heater?

Just give us a call. We’re happy to answer your questions or help you schedule an appointment with one of our water heater experts to give you a quote for a new water heater.

To get an idea on the cost to install a new water heater, check out our plumbing service installation page and read our related articles below.

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