You might be in the market for a new water heater because yours died, or maybe you’re purchasing one for a new home. Whatever your situation, you’ve probably asked yourself, “Do I need a gas or electric water heater? Which is better?” Before you make this important purchase, you should know the pros and cons of a gas water heater vs electric.

Choosing an energy source for your water heater is important, and affects the upfront cost of the purchase, its energy efficiency, the ease of installation, longevity, maintenance, and safety considerations.

Gas vs Electric Water Heater Upfront Cost

The first thing you’ll encounter when browsing is the water heater cost. An electric water heater has fewer parts than a propane water heater, so it is generally less expensive to purchase when compared with a gas water heater, like one powered by propane. However, if you’re looking to save money, there’s more to consider than the upfront purchase price.

Which is More Energy Efficient: Gas or Electric Water Heaters?

You also need to consider gas vs electric water heater operation cost. A high-efficiency gas model will use less energy overall to save you more money over time. In general, a gas water heater will have lower monthly energy costs compared with electric. A propane tankless water heater can reduce your energy costs by up to 50 percent compared with an electric model. They also offer the lowest annual cost of ownership in four out of five U.S. climate zones.

Another advantage of gas water heaters is the ability to use them in a power outage. If your home loses power and you have an electric water heater, it won’t be able to supply hot water. A gas water heater will keep operating as normal.

How Easy Is It to Install an Electric Water Heater vs Gas?

If you’re replacing a gas water heater with a gas or electric unit, or you’re replacing an electric unit with another electric water heater, the installation and associated costs are fairly straightforward for the professional doing them. Replacing a gas water heater, especially if you’re switching to gas from electric, is a more involved process that may entail extra costs.

Gas or Electric Water Heaters: Which Heats Up Faster?

Electricity is not as efficient as propane when it comes to heating water [link to new page about time to heat water], so you’ll likely have to wait longer for hot water. A propane tankless water heater delivers hot water on demand.

Which Type of Water Heater Lasts Longer?

One year for you is like 10 for your water heater. So, you can expect a traditional storage tank water heater to last for about 10 years. Because they have fewer parts, electric storage tank units may last slightly longer than gas, but with higher operating costs over the appliance lifecycle. Whether it’s powered by electricity or gas, a tankless unit will inevitably last longer than storage tank. For example, a propane tankless water heater has a life expectancy of about 20 years.

Is One Type of Water Heater Safer Than the Other?

With the right precautions, and with professional installation and maintenance, gas and electric water heaters are both safe options. Gas water heaters will require space for venting, depending on the model you choose, so always hire a professional for installation.

Learn about the advantages of propane water heaters over electric here.