When it’s time to replace your Phoenix water heater, and you’ve already decided to use a traditional tank based water heater (vs a tankless water heater or a solar water heater), the question everyone should consider is whether to purchase an electric or gas water heater. Everyone who comes to this point should consider a few things to help decide which one will best meet their needs.

The first big question is whether you even have gas available to your home (either natural gas or propane). If you don’t then there really isn’t much of a decision to make – you’re going electric. If there is gas running to a furnace or stove in your home but not to your water heater hookup, then you should contact a group of professional plumbers in Phoenix to advise you on the possibility of extending the line to your water heater.

Regarding efficiency in the pure sense, electric water heaters are more efficient than gas water heaters because almost all of the energy is used directly in heating the coils that heat the water – giving them around 90% efficiency. With gas heaters, some of the energy is wasted due to combustion and exhaust products. Normal gas water heaters are between sixty and eighty percent efficient due to these factors. These figures also vary depending on the age of the units, the amount of insulation, and the hot water consumption. Because of these variables, efficiency is not necessarily the best or only consideration when deciding on changing from gas to electric.

The overall cost of gas vs electric heaters is difficult to determine. Both hydroelectricity and natural gas costs may rise and fall during the course of a year in your particular area, so average costs are the only way to measure this variation; an estimate at best. Depending on the cost of gas where you live, usually it is less expensive to operate a gas water heater than an electric one. One group created the following chart to estimate your water-heating bill: locate the price you pay for gas, electricity or propane on the charts below: (Based on general energy prices)

Natural GasPropaneElectricity
Price per therm Yearly Cost Price per Gallon Yearly Cost Price per Killowatt-hour Yearly Cost
$0.50 $136 $0.95 $283 $0.08 $390
$0.60 $163 $1.05 $313 $0.10 $488
$0.70 $190 $1.15 $343 $0.12 $585

Statistically, electric water heaters will last slightly longer than gas water heaters, as they don’t have as much external burning causing corrosion and such, but either one should last between 8 to 15 years depending upon usage.

Ultimately, each unit has advantages and disadvantages. If you already have a gas or electric water heater and are happy with it there may not be sufficient reason to switch. The next question would be whether to keep a tank model at all or to move to a tankless water heater instead!