Water heaters are the single biggest energy users in the typical home, accounting for 15-to-20% of the average home’s energy costs.
The low cost of natural gas now means that electric hot water tanks cost much more to operate than gas models. However, electric tanks are often considered more environmentally friendly and usually last a bit longer as well.
How Efficient Are Electric Water Heaters?
Electric water tanks are more efficient because virtually 100% of the power they consume goes directly into heating water. Gas-fired heaters, on the other hand, where combustion and exhaust waste heat and therefore reduce efficiency to between 60 and 80%.
But, efficiency isn’t the whole story, as both electricity costs and natural gas costs vary considerably and are subject to change from one area to another. Age and efficiency of hot water tanks, along with the amount of insulation used, are more considerations.
The best thing you can do when looking at new hot water tanks is to have an energy consultant analyze your needs and the energy costs in your specific area. Most reputable water heater installers will do this free of charge.
If you are undertaking home improvement renovations, replacing an older hot water tank should be on your list. Not all homes have electric service panels and wiring that can accommodate an electric hot water storage tank. If your home does, then installation will be relatively easy and inexpensive. Gas appliances must be installed by a licensed gasfitter and modifications to your home’s gas piping and venting could be required.
Efficient Furnace carries top-quality Bradford White water heaters and Rheem hot water tanks, and can answer your questions when it comes to hot water storage and heating systems.
An electric hot water heater typically lasts longer than natural gas units due to elimination of inner tank corrosion and deterioration from the gas flame.
Another concern regarding the life expectancy of hot water storage tanks is the presence of corrosive minerals in the water supply. This is more critical if your home gets its water from a private well rather than the municipal system. However, water from municipal delivery systems can also be a concern. Your water tank dealer should know if the water in your area contains mineral content that would shorten the life of a hot water tank. The municipality itself will have detailed information, often easily available online in that regard too.
Electric hot water tanks are slower to heat than are gas-fired ones, but that can be offset by installing a larger tank. If you are concerned about the environment, take note that even though natural gas is one of the cleanest fossil fuels available, electric hot water heaters create zero emissions.
Saving Money on Hot Water
Regardless of how you heat water in your home, there are things you can do to reduce energy consumption and save money. The easiest thing you can do to save money when it comes to heating water for your home is look at how hot water is handled in your home. For instance…
- Turning off the water while washing your hair in the shower or scrubbing dishes may seem like a bother, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run
- Many modern water heaters have a “vacation mode” that saves on energy consumption while you are away
- Simple upgrades, such as wrapping your water heater with an insulation blanket and installing low-flow fixtures in your sinks and showers will save money, too
By: Andrew Lake