Find out which is the more cost-effective option: an electric or natural gas water heater. Learn why electric resistance heat is the most expensive type of heat possible. Also get tips on considering a tankless water heater, which supplies hot water on demand.
LESLIE: OK, well if you live in Minnesota you listen to The Money Pit on KNUJ, like our friend Mark does and Mark’s got a question.
How can we help?
MARK: Yes, I just recently bought an old home. It’s probably 80 years old. And I’m concerned about the water heater . It’s probably a 30-plus-year-old water heater. It’s working fine but with energy costs the way they’re going, my thought is I’m guessing it would probably be far better to replace it now. But with energy costs the way they are, my question regards do I go with natural gas or do I go with electric?
TOM: Oh, hands down go with natural gas .
LESLIE: And it’s about time because that’s probably on the verge of its life.
TOM: That’s way – that is way over – you’ve had two lives with that water heater at 30 years.
LESLIE: Well, generally they’re 15 years, you would estimate, as a lifespan.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. And the warranties fall off at like five, six, or seven years for the most part. So yeah, I would count yourself very lucky and I would replace that with a natural gas water heater. It’s going to be a lot less expensive than an electric unit.
Is the one that you have now natural gas?
MARK: No, it’s currently electric but …
TOM: But do you have natural gas in your house?
MARK: Correct, I do have natural gas available. It would be nothing to put it in but …
TOM: Alright, then I definitely think you should do that because the cost will be less to operate that over the long haul. Electric resistance heat , whether it’s heating for your water or heating for the air, is going to be the most expensive type of heat possible. So I would definitely recommend you get a natural gas water heater. Now is the perfect time to do it.
MARK: OK, that was my thought but then I thought, “Well, this year they’re talking a 50-percent increase in fuel cost and last year we had in the 20-percent range.” So I thought, “Well, electric has not gone up 70 percent,” but …
TOM: Yeah, but over the long haul, you’re going to find that it’s less expensive to use gas; even with the crazy market that we’re having right now.
You know, by the way, there is one other type of water heater you might want to consider that’s even more efficient than that and that is an instant hot water heater; a tankless water heater. Now a tankless water heater basically supplies hot water only when you need it and that can be – that can be gas-fired. You might want to look into the Rinnai tankless water heaters. It’s a pretty cool technology because, basically, it supplies hot water on demand and you can really never run out.
MARK: I’ve heard of them but I’ve never really looked into them.
TOM: Yeah, they work very well.
MARK: That’s interesting. I’ll have to do that.
MARK: I believe that’s it. That would be fantastic.
TOM: Mark, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.