Gas vs. Electric Hot Water Heaters

Choosing the right water heater – it’s one of those decisions that might have you scratching your noggin, but it’s a pretty important one. Did you know that Aussies use nearly 21% of their household energy just to keep the water toasty? Our guide is chock-a-block with all the bits and bobs you’ll need to figure out which option is going to be a ripper for your place.

Key Takeaways

  • Gas water heaters heat up quickly, work during power outages, and tend to cost less upfront but may have higher monthly energy bills and require a gas line installation.
  • Electric water heaters generally have lower operational costs, longer lifespans, and easy installation but can be more expensive initially and don’t function during power outages.
  • Both types of heaters need some maintenance; gas units must be checked for safety hazards like gas leaks, while electric ones may have higher long-term maintenance due to part replacements.
  • The environmental impact is also a factor; electric water heaters are more eco-friendly if powered by renewable electricity sources, whereas gas heaters rely on fossil fuels.
  • Homeowners should consider their specific situation including budget constraints, safety concerns, efficiency needs, desired lifespan of the water heater unit as well as local availability of natural gas or electricity.

Explaining the Differences Between Gas and Electric Water Heaters

Gas water heaters utilise natural gas to heat the water, while electric water heaters use electricity. Both types have their unique mechanisms for heating the water and come with their distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Outdoor hot water system

Types of water heaters (electric, gas, solar)

As homeowners, we all need hot water for daily activities like showering and washing dishes. Understanding the different types of water heaters is essential to choosing the right one for our homes. Here are the key varieties you’ll find on the market:

  • Electric Water Heaters: These are powered by electricity and come in both tank and tankless versions. The electric elements heat up when you turn on the tap, providing hot water on demand. They’re known for easy installation without the need for a gas line, which makes them a popular choice in areas where natural gas isn’t readily available.
  • Gas Water Heaters: Operating on natural gas or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), these heaters often heat water faster than their electric counterparts. A pilot light ignites the burner as needed, warming the water stored in an insulated tank. Homes with existing gas lines can integrate this type quite seamlessly. They also keep working during power outages — a big plus for many of us.
  • Solar Water Heaters: Harnessing the power of sunlight through solar panels, these systems are incredibly energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. During sunny periods they collect energy, which heats water stored in a tank. While they require significant upfront investment and are dependent on weather conditions, they can dramatically cut long-term operating costs and reduce your household’s carbon footprint.

How they work

Gas water heaters work by using a gas burner to heat the water in the tank. When hot water is needed, cold water enters the tank and is heated by the gas burner. As the water heats up, it rises to the top of the tank, ready for use.

This type of system requires a constant supply of fuel to keep heating your water, whether you’re using it or not. Electric water heaters operate by using electricity to heat an element inside the tank. When hot water is required, cold water enters at the bottom and is then heated by this element.

The hot water rises to the top of the tank and can be used when needed. However, electric systems are reliant on power being available – if there’s a blackout or electrical issue, they won’t work until power is restored.

Choosing between these two options depends on factors such as cost, efficiency, environmental impact, and availability of resources in your area. It’s important to consider all these aspects before making an informed decision about which type of system suits your home best.

Pros and Cons of Gas Water Heaters

Gas water heaters have the advantage of heating water quickly, lower upfront costs, and operating during power outages. However, they also come with potential safety hazards and higher energy costs in the long run.


Pros of gas water heaters include rapid heating, lower upfront cost, and the ability to operate during power outages. Gas water heaters are also known for their low maintenance requirements and environmental friendliness.

Additionally, they offer a more efficient way to heat water compared to electric heaters. On the other hand, electric water heaters have lower energy costs and a longer lifespan compared to gas heaters. They are also easier to install without the need for a gas line. Electric models are ideal for those looking for energy-efficient options with minimal long-term maintenance costs while prioritising environmental impact.

Heats water quickly

Gas water heaters are known for their ability to heat water rapidly, providing hot water in a shorter amount of time compared to electric models. This quick heating feature ensures that you have access to hot water when needed, especially during peak usage times.

With this advantage, households can enjoy the convenience of having readily available hot water for various daily tasks without waiting for an extended period.

Electric units may take longer to heat the water due to their design and energy source. As a result, gas-powered systems offer a more efficient solution when it comes to meeting immediate hot water needs – making them an attractive option for homeowners seeking quick and reliable access to hot water throughout the day.

Lower upfront cost

Considering the affordability of a hot water system is crucial when making a decision. Electric water heaters generally have a lower upfront cost compared to gas models. This makes them an attractive option for homeowners looking to save on initial expenses.

With the lower upfront cost, it’s easier to invest in other areas of your home or allocate funds for potential maintenance or upgrades in the future.

When you choose an electric water heater with its lower upfront cost, you can enjoy immediate savings that contribute to your overall budget. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’ve made a cost-effective choice without compromising on quality and performance.

Operates during power outages

Gas water heaters continue to operate during power outages, ensuring a continuous supply of hot water. This is particularly beneficial in areas prone to frequent power interruptions or for homeowners seeking uninterrupted access to hot water.

Electric water heaters, on the other hand, rely on electricity and are unable to function during power outages, potentially causing inconvenience when hot water is needed most.

Low maintenance

Operating during power outages is just one of the benefits of gas water heaters. In addition, they require minimal maintenance, saving you time and effort in the long run. With fewer components to monitor and service, gas water heaters are a low-maintenance option for homeowners seeking convenience and reliability in their hot water systems.

Electric water heaters may have lower upfront costs, but they might end up costing more in terms of maintenance over time. From replacing heating elements to addressing electrical issues, electric water heaters can demand higher maintenance attention compared to their gas counterparts.

More environmentally friendly

Choosing between a gas or electric water heater can impact the environment. Electric heaters are generally considered more environmentally friendly due to their lower carbon emissions and lack of combustion byproducts.

Additionally, they don’t require a gas line, reducing reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels. However, it’s important to consider your local electricity grid and the source of the electricity in your area when making this decision.

When evaluating the environmental impact, homeowners should look at not only immediate energy usage but also long-term sustainability and efficiency. Considering these factors will help in making an informed decision that aligns with both individual needs and environmental responsibility.


Gas water heaters have some drawbacks to consider. While they do heat water quickly, their higher energy costs can lead to increased monthly expenses. Additionally, the need for a gas line installation may pose challenges and incur extra costs in homes not previously equipped for it.

Furthermore, gas water heaters come with potential safety hazards that require careful attention and regular maintenance to ensure safe operation. Lastly, these units generally have a limited lifespan compared to electric water heaters, potentially requiring replacement sooner.

Electric water heaters also have their downsides. Despite offering lower upfront costs and easy installation without the need for a gas line, electric models tend to heat water more slowly than their gas counterparts.

Potential safety hazards

Cons: Gas water heaters come with potential safety hazards. Regular maintenance is necessary to prevent gas leaks, which can pose serious health risks. Proper ventilation is also crucial to avoid carbon monoxide buildup in the home.

Additionally, there is a risk of fire or explosion if the gas water heater malfunctions or is improperly installed. Potential safety hazards for electric water heaters are primarily related to electrical issues. Over time, wear and tear on electrical components can lead to short circuits or electrical fires.

Higher energy costs

Gas water heaters tend to have higher energy costs compared to electric ones due to the price of natural gas. This can result in increased monthly expenses, especially if you use a lot of hot water.

It’s essential to factor in ongoing energy costs when considering between gas and electric water heaters, as this can significantly impact your overall household budget.

Electric water heaters typically have lower energy costs than their gas counterparts, making them a more cost-effective option over time. This could lead to savings on your monthly utility bills and prove beneficial for long-term affordability.

Limited lifespan

Gas water heaters typically have a limited lifespan compared to electric ones. The average gas water heater lasts around 10-12 years, while electric units can last up to 15 years or more with proper maintenance.

Regular inspections and upkeep are essential to ensure that your gas water heater remains efficient and safe, extending its lifespan for as long as possible.

Electric hot water systems tend to have a longer lifespan due to the simpler mechanics involved. However, both types of heaters will benefit from regular maintenance and care to ensure an extended life span.

Requires gas line installation

When considering a gas water heater for your home, it’s important to be aware that installation will involve setting up a gas line. This process can vary in complexity and cost depending on the layout of your home and the distance from the main gas supply.

It’s crucial to consult with a qualified professional to ensure that the installation is done correctly and safely. Additionally, obtaining any necessary permits from local authorities is an essential step in this process. Once the decision has been made to go ahead with a gas water heater, it’s imperative to hire a licensed professional who can safely install the gas line according to regulations and guidelines.

Gas vs. Electric Hot Water Heaters » water heaters

Pros and Cons of Electric Water Heaters

Electric water heaters have lower energy costs and a longer lifespan, making them a cost-effective option in the long run. However, they may require higher upfront costs and have slow heating capabilities compared to gas water heaters.

Lower energy costs

Electric water heaters are known for their lower energy costs compared to gas water heaters. By using electricity as the fuel source, electric water heaters can be more cost-effective in the long run.

This is due to their higher energy efficiency, which means they use less power to heat the same amount of water as gas-powered models. Homeowners can benefit from reduced monthly expenses with an electric water heater, making it a budget-friendly option over time.

Gas water heaters may have higher operating costs due to the price of natural gas and its fluctuating market rates. On the other hand, with electricity being a more stable and predictable energy source, homeowners can enjoy consistent and reliable monthly expense planning for their hot water needs.

Longer lifespan

Gas water heaters typically have a shorter lifespan compared to electric models. However, regular maintenance and checking for signs of wear can help extend the life of your gas water heater.

It’s important to keep an eye on the condition of the tank, as well as the heating elements and thermostat, to ensure it operates efficiently and lasts longer.

When considering the lifespan of a gas water heater, it’s essential to factor in proper care and maintenance to make sure it continues running smoothly and reliably over time. Now let’s dive into understanding how each type of system impacts monthly energy costs.

Easy installation

Transitioning from considering the longer lifespan of water heaters to the installation process, it’s essential to highlight that electric water heaters offer an easy installation compared to gas systems.

With no need for a gas line and simpler electrical requirements, electric water heaters can be installed straightforwardly, reducing the time and complexity associated with setting up a new hot water system.

This ease of installation makes electric water heaters a practical choice for homeowners looking for a hassle-free upgrade or replacement.

No need for a gas line

Electric water heaters offer the advantage of not needing a gas line, making them a convenient choice for homes without access to natural gas. This means you can avoid the cost and hassle of installing a gas line, saving time and money during the installation process.

With an electric water heater, you can easily set it up in your home without the need for additional infrastructure, providing an efficient and practical solution to meet your hot water needs.

In addition to avoiding the need for a gas line, electric water heaters also give homeowners greater flexibility in terms of placement within their homes. Without requiring connection to a gas line, electric units can be installed in various locations without being constrained by proximity to existing gas lines or ventilation requirements.

Slow heating

Electric water heaters are known for their slow heating process. This means it can take longer for the water to reach the desired temperature compared to gas water heaters. The slower heating time may result in increased waiting periods, especially if multiple people need hot water consecutively.

Additionally, this slow heating process could lead to higher energy consumption over time, contributing to potentially higher monthly costs. It’s important to consider the trade-off between slower heating and lower upfront costs when deciding on an electric water heater.

Higher upfront cost

While gas water heaters have a lower upfront cost, electric water heaters typically require a higher initial investment. When choosing between the two, it’s important to consider the long-term savings from lower energy costs and longer lifespan that come with an electric system.

Despite the higher upfront cost, an electric water heater may prove to be a more economical choice over time due to its efficiency and durability.

When comparing gas and electric water heaters, homeowners need to weigh the initial expenses against the potential savings in energy bills and maintenance costs. It might seem like a larger investment at first, but an electric system can offer greater value in the long run.

No operation during power outages

During power outages, electric water heaters will not operate, leaving you without hot water until the electricity is restored. This can be a significant drawback if you live in an area prone to frequent power interruptions or if you rely on hot water for various tasks throughout the day.

It’s important to consider this aspect when weighing the pros and cons of electric water heaters for your home.

Gas water heaters, on the other hand, continue to operate during power outages since they don’t depend on electricity to heat the water. This can be a crucial advantage, particularly during emergencies or when consistent access to hot water is essential.

Potential for higher maintenance costs

Gas water heaters can potentially incur higher maintenance costs due to the complexity of their components. Regular servicing and inspection are essential to ensure smooth functioning, which may add up over time.

Components such as the gas burner, thermocouple, and pilot light require regular checks and possible replacements, contributing to ongoing maintenance expenses.

Electric water heaters also pose a potential for higher maintenance costs, particularly related to the heating elements and thermostats. These parts may need periodic replacement or adjustment to maintain optimal performance, adding to the overall maintenance expenditure.

Choosing the Right Water Heater for Your Home

When choosing the right water heater for your home, consider factors such as cost, safety, efficiency, lifespan, environmental impact and the availability of resources. It’s always best to seek personalised advice from experts to ensure you make an informed decision that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Factors to consider

  1. Cost: Evaluate the initial purchase cost, installation expenses, as well as long-term operational and maintenance costs to determine the most cost-effective option for your budget.
  2. Safety: Take into account any safety concerns associated with gas leaks or electrical malfunctions, and ensure that the chosen water heater meets safety standards.
  3. Efficiency: Assess the energy efficiency of both types of water heaters to understand their impact on your utility bills and environmental footprint.
  4. Lifespan: Consider the expected lifespan of each type of water heater to gauge their long-term durability and potential replacement costs.
  5. Environmental impact: Compare the environmental implications of gas and electric water heaters, including their carbon footprint and potential for renewable energy integration.
  6. Availability of resources: Check for the availability of gas lines or electrical infrastructure in your area to ensure seamless installation and operation of your chosen water heater.
  7. Personalised advice from experts: Seek guidance from professionals who can provide tailored recommendations based on your specific home requirements and usage patterns.


Considering the financial aspect, the upfront cost of an electric water heater is typically higher than that of a gas water heater. However, over time, electric water heaters tend to have lower energy costs, which could balance out the initial investment.

On the other hand, while gas water heaters may have a lower upfront cost and quicker heating capacity, they often come with higher energy costs in the long run. It’s essential to weigh these factors against your budget and long-term financial goals when making your decision.

When it comes to choosing between gas and electric water heaters based on cost alone, it’s crucial to consider not only the initial purchase price but also ongoing operational expenses such as energy consumption.


Safety is paramount when choosing a water heater for your home. Gas water heaters come with potential safety hazards due to the use of natural gas and open flames, which could lead to carbon monoxide leaks or fire if not properly installed or maintained.

On the other hand, electric water heaters eliminate these safety concerns as they do not involve combustion or gas-related risks. Ensuring that your home’s hot water system is safe for you and your family should be a top priority.


When considering the efficiency of water heaters, it’s essential to assess how they impact your energy usage. Gas water heaters are known for their rapid heating ability, making them a more efficient choice for households with high hot water demands.

On the other hand, electric water heaters tend to have lower standby heat loss, contributing to overall energy efficiency. It’s crucial to evaluate both options based on your specific needs and usage patterns.

To optimise efficiency further, consider investing in a tankless water heater that only heats water when needed, conserving energy and reducing utility costs in the long run. Additionally, explore models with high Energy Star ratings as they are designed to be more efficient and environmentally friendly.


Gas water heaters typically have a lifespan of 10-15 years, which is relatively shorter compared to electric water heaters. On the other hand, electric water heaters can last between 15-20 years with proper maintenance.

It’s important to factor in the lifespan of the unit when making your decision, as a longer lifespan means fewer replacements and more cost savings in the long run.

Considering the long-term investment required for hot water systems, it’s essential to consider both gas and electric options based on their respective lifespans to ensure that you make an informed decision that suits your household needs and budget.

Environmental impact

When considering the environmental impact, it’s important to note that electric water heaters are generally more energy efficient and have lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to gas water heaters.

Electric water heaters produce fewer carbon emissions since they don’t burn fossil fuels directly. This is especially beneficial if your home’s electricity comes from renewable sources such as solar or wind power. On the other hand, gas water heaters contribute to higher carbon emissions due to the combustion of natural gases.

Availability of resources

When deciding between a gas or electric water heater, it’s crucial to consider the availability of resources in your area. If your home doesn’t have access to natural gas lines, then an electric water heater may be the more practical choice.

On the other hand, if you already have a natural gas line installed, a gas water heater might be a convenient and cost-effective option for providing hot water to your home. Understanding what resources are readily available can significantly impact your decision-making process when choosing the right hot water system for your household.

Consider consulting with local experts or plumbers who can provide personalised advice based on the specific availability of resources in your area. They can help you evaluate whether gas or electricity is more feasible given the infrastructure and energy sources accessible to your property, guiding you towards making an informed decision that aligns with both convenience and efficiency.

Personalised advice from experts

Our team of experts is here to provide personalised advice tailored to your specific needs when it comes to choosing between gas and electric water heaters. We consider various factors such as the size of your household, daily hot water usage, energy efficiency goals, upfront costs, and long-term maintenance requirements.

Our goal is to help you make an informed decision that aligns with your budget and lifestyle while ensuring an efficient and reliable hot water supply for your home.

You can rely on our expert guidance to weigh the pros and cons of gas versus electric hot water systems, taking into account not only the initial investment but also ongoing operational costs.

Weigh the Pros and Cons

In conclusion, when debating whether to opt for a gas or electric water heater, one must weigh the pros and cons. Gas heaters are quick to heat, operate during power outages and are lower in upfront cost.

On the other hand, electric water heaters have lower energy costs, longer lifespans, and no need for a gas line. The decision ultimately comes down to individual preferences and needs of the household.

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