water heaters electric or gas?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Peevee, Feb 10, 2007.

  1. Peevee

    Peevee Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2006
    Location:
    Milan, Tennessee
    I get this question alot, should I go with a gas unit or electric water heater. I always tell them it's a matter of preference and try to get them to stay with what they have presently.
    Which one is the most economical now? Natural gas is steady going up in my area.
     
  2. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2006
    Occupation:
    disabled-retired industrial fabricator
    Location:
    200 miles south of Little Rock
    Just replacing whatever is already there is certainly logical, but I like keeping all the heat inside the house rather than sending it up a chimney. Also, the next water heater I buy is going to have an auxillary fluid-fluid heat exchanger on the inside so we can heat water from any of several possible sources.
     
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  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Occupation:
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    Location:
    New England
    Depends very much where you live. You need to do an energy comparison. Gas can heat the water faster. Electric is as close to 100% efficient as you can get. Gas has a flue going up the middle which isn't insulated (otherwise you'd get no heat into the thing). Electric components may be easier to repair. If your power panel is marginal, you may need to upgrade to support an electric heater. In many places, gas is less expensive, but not all.
     
  5. Master Plumber Mark

    Master Plumber Mark Master Plumber

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Occupation:
    Sensitivity trainer...to be caring and loving to a
    Location:
    indianapolis indiana - land of the free, home of
    look at the energy ratings

    I tell people to go to the hardware stores
    and simply look at the energy rateings on
    both the gas and electric heaters.....

    usually the average cost to heat a gas heater
    is about $195 per year

    the electric says about $475

    at least that is what is says on
    the yellow energy rating tag...
     
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Occupation:
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    Location:
    New England
    Those labels are based on national average energy costs...some places, electricity is dirt cheap (not where I live). You need to run those numbers by your local costs. Gas almost always comes out cheaper, but not always.
     
  7. GoTanklessToday

    GoTanklessToday In the Trades

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    Location:
    Renton, WA

    I believe it truly depends on the area where you live. Like Jadnashua says, costs vary wildly. Out here in the pacific northwest, our customers get twice as much hot for half the cost by switching from electric to natural gas. Propane and electricity seem to be about the same. Standard gas tank heaters will produce twice the gallons per hour, so that is important for many. We don't do many gas to electric conversions. We do many "electric to gas" though.

    I just did a tankless for a propane customer yesterday, he told me his last purchase was nearly 3.00 a gallon. I don't know how that compares to natural gas (in quantity), but our customers who use propane are some of our happiest tankless customers.
     
  8. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2005
    Location:
    Ohio
    Most people who ask me the question have electric and want to switch to gas.

    In most cases the switch is just cost prohibitive because of gas and / or flue piping costs.
     
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    wh

    Most of the time gas is much cheaper, unless you live in the TVA area where it is heavily subsidized. Some people are just uncomfortable with gas because if its explosive nature if there is a leak, carbon monoxide, etc. and just want to go with electric, regardless of the costs.
     
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