What’s the Best Water Heater for a Home With Low Water Use?

I live alone in a 1000-square foot house, but have a roommate moving in soon. I'm looking to replace my existing electric water heater tank, and wonder which type will get me the lowest operating costs: Tankless, an electric hybrid heat pump, or a high efficiency gas tank. 

I don't use a ton of hot water (I wash almost all of my clothes in cold water and take short showers), but my hot water use will at least double when my roommate moves in.   

One of the benefits of going with an electric hybrid heat pump water heater is that my utility company offers me a lower electric rate (which I have now) for having an electric water heater. Another reason I'm considering the heat pump hybrid electric unit is because it provides cooling and dehumidification benefits for my basement.

I have a 220 electric hookup if I go electric hybrid heat pump and I have a natural gas line if I go tankless gas or with a high effiency gas tank.  What are your thoughts? 

The Money Pit Answer

Since your home has natural gas, I wouldn't choose an electric water heater of any type.  Gas is always cheaper to purchase and operate.  Tankless water heaters and other high efficiency heaters (like induced draft) much more costly to buy - and since water usage is so low in your home, you might not get the return on investment for the installation and unfront costs. Therefore I think you may want to consider, based on your circumstances, replacing your existing tank with a traditional tank gas heater.  That said, explore what rebates and credits are available to you if you go with a high efficiency option.  Even with rebates, though, I have serious doubts that your low usage could ever make the investment worth your while.

1 Answers
Allison5 answered 7 years ago

I just bought a gas water heater, mainly because that's what I was replacing, but also because the cost of using natural gas is lower than electric. I would go to an appliance store or shop online so you get a good sense of what's out there.


Here's a good overview from Consumer Reports to get you going. You can get to some info without subscribing!




Also, if you haven't already bought the heat pump, I would reconsider. They ones' I've seen are terrible at putting out heat–it comes out like a cool fan.