There are several things to consider if you’re trying to decide whether to heat your water with a gas or electric hot water system. You may be looking at buying a new home and are wondering if the existing hot water system is right for your family. Or you may be renovating or changing out an old system, wondering which option is best.
Let’s look at a few pros and cons, and some differences between gas vs electric hot water heating.
Gas Hot Water Systems: Pros and Cons
A gas hot water system provides you with two main methods of heating the water for your home.
The first of these is a gas hot water cylinder – a hot water cylinder that is stored in your home that is powered by gas. This is a great option if there is already a cylinder in the home (that isn’t too old), if you have mains gas pumped into the property, and if you have a cylinder larger enough for the size of your home.
Where a gas hot water cylinder may be problematic is if the cylinder is over 15 years old (they tend to have a lifetime of approximately 10-20 years at most). It also may not be the best option if yours is a household that uses a lot of hot water – for example, if there are multiple people taking hot showers and you tend to run out of hot water.
The second main way of heating your water with gas is by using a continuous flow gas hot water system. You may also hear this referred to as instantaneous hot water.
This is a califont system that heats the water as you use it (rather than storing a set amount of heated water in a cylinder).
A continuous flow gas hot water system is great if you want unlimited hot water. It’s also fantastic if you are short on space and would rather not have a hot water cylinder taking up room in your home. The biggest limitation is that most systems would need power, so if power runs out then the system wont work. They can also run out of gas if its an LNG.
Electric Hot Water Systems: Pros and Cons
The two main options you have when using electricity to heat the water in your home are an electric hot water cylinder and a heat pump hot water system. Both are great options, but there are pros and cons to all systems.
An electric hot water cylinder is heated by electricity rather than gas – but in most other ways, it operates in a similar fashion to a gas hot water cylinder. So the pros and cons are similar. They’re great if your cylinder is still under its lifetime use age, if you have room for the cylinder, and if your cylinder is large enough for your family’s hot water needs.
If your hot water cylinder is older than 10 years old, or if you find that you’re often running out of hot water, it may be time to look at your options for your hot water, such as an instantaneous gas hot water system or increase your cylinder size or put restrictions on the water flow to reduce water.
A heat pump hot water cylinder is very economical, energy efficient and versatile. Heat pump water heaters operate similarly to heat pumps that heat your home, extracting heat from the outside air to heat your water.
Energy Efficiency: Comparing Gas and Electric Hot Water Systems
While heat pump hot water systems have not traditionally been one of the more popular systems, they are growing in use – and the reason being that they’re very energy efficient. There are some gas powered models, but generally, a heat pump hot water system is an electric one.
When it comes to gas systems, the continuous flow systems are very energy efficient. That’s because they’re not constantly heating water that you’re not using. They heat water on demand, saving energy and costs.
Cost Considerations: Gas vs Electric Hot Water Systems
The purchase price and installation costs of a gas hot water cylinder vs an electric hot water system are very similar. The actual cost will depend on the size and type of hot water cylinder you’re interested in, you can contact our team to find the best one for you.
There may, however, be slight differences in running costs. Gas hot water cylinders are typically cheaper to run than electric hot water cylinders.
Even more economical would be a gas continuous flow system. This makes sense as you’re not paying to heat water in preparation for use, and you’re not paying to keep water hot while it’s being stored in the cylinder. You heat water (and pay for the heating) only as you use it.
Environmental Impact: Gas vs Electric Hot Water Systems
Manufacturers have done a lot to ensure that hot water heating products are becoming more and more environmentally friendly. Both gas and electric systems, however, still release greenhouse gas emissions.
Most of our power in NZ is generated by hydropower, which means it’s a somewhat cleaner option. But in the transfer of power to our homes, some of the effects of that environmental cleanliness are cancelled out.
All in all, there isn’t a lot of evidence showing that one method is more environmentally friendly than the other.
Installation and Maintenance: Gas vs Electric Hot Water Systems
There isn’t really a difference between gas and electric systems when it comes to ease of installation and maintenance. We can install a hot water cylinder in a variety of spaces and can even install it outside if you have limited indoor space. The team at Sumich is experienced in all types of installation and can easily convert your home from one system to another if needed.
All systems need regular maintenance, but nothing that is too onerous. Regular checks for leaks or unusual noises are easy enough for you to maintain. You can also schedule annual checks from the Sumich team where we can come and check all the components and connections to make sure your hot water system is running as efficiently and safely as possible.
Performance and Reliability: Gas vs Electric Hot Water Systems
The two main systems that we use are Rheem and Rinnai. Both are well established brands that we know and trust – and that our clients have also trusted for years.
Rheem and Rinnai both provide gas and electric hot water cylinders as well as instantaneous hot water systems. Their performance and reliability are excellent for both gas and electric.
Safety Considerations: Gas vs Electric Hot Water Systems
Both gas and electric hot water systems are extremely safe when they’re properly installed and maintained by a professional plumbing company like Sumich.
Hot water cylinders, whether they’re electric or gas, have an outer cylinder that prevents surface burns. There is steam that is emitted from a cylinder, but again, when installed properly this is out of reach and shouldn’t be a safety consideration.
Lifestyle and Usage: Gas vs Electric Hot Water Systems
One of the biggest factors that will determine which system is appropriate for your home is your water usage habits and how much water you use.
If your lifestyle involves several people in the household, particularly athletes who shower a lot and do a lot of laundry, or teenagers who haven’t yet learned to limit their shower times, then you probably want to consider having a gas continuous flow hot water system installed.
If you have an old hot water cylinder that needs to be replaced, talk to the friendly team at Sumich Plumbing & Drainage and we can help you decide what system would work best for your lifestyle and usage.
Making the Right Choice: Factors to Consider
There really isn’t a right or wrong choice when it comes to deciding between a gas or electric hot water system. But one option may be better for you.
Consider the space you have, the power source coming into the home, the amount of hot water you use, the climate where you live, and your water use habits in general.
If you have any questions at all, or need more help in deciding which hot water system is right for you, please get in touch with us at Sumich Plumbing & Drainage. We’re always more than happy to help.