Gas Versus Electric Heaters: Merits and Demerits
By Steven De Nazareth
Updated: January 24th, 2019
If you are constructing a new home or replacing the existing heating equipment, then you should know about which fuel is best suited for you and which costs the least.
The two major fuels that are being explored are natural gas and electricity. The best way to choose between heaters is by comparing the pros and cons of the electric and gas one before you finally determine the best option for your home.
There are several ways that water can be heated. This can be done by solar energy, electricity, a heat pump or a wetback system. There are several advantages and disadvantages that come with each system. This can be based on how efficient it is and whether it produces the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
While a majority of American homes use several appliances that make their lives easier, we tend to ignore them in time. One of the most underrated appliances that we use on a daily basis is the water heater.
While you wake up every morning, use the bathroom and enjoy a lovely shower, you don’t seem to wonder where this hot water comes from until it actually stops!
It’s only when it stops working that you realize how important it is in your daily lives. This moment of guilt of taking your water heater for granted in your daily life will hit us unless we take the right measures soon to correct this mistake.
Before investing in a water heater, you should put a lot of thought into it before investing in one. The smart choice is to look at what saves you money and if it has a high energy rating.
Based on statistics, your utility bill is almost 18% of all utility bills. Since there are many ways that you can save on energy, you might want to consider using lesser water and having a shorter shower!
Usually, since water heaters come with homes, you would have to shell out on a new one if it does not meet your requirements. But, if your water heater is broken down then you should consider installing a new one which could be of an alternative energy.
You could simply choose between gas and electric. But deciding between the two is one of the most important decisions that you will be making in a while.
When it comes to electrical heating systems, it uses a resistor unit to convert electrical energy to thermal energy. This is used to heat the furnace air and spreads through ducts.
These heating systems are compact, easy to install and last for years to come. The best benefit of electric heating is that it offers homeowners the ability to upgrade to solar heating.
This is because the furnaces can connect to solar panels in an easy manner. So for those that have electrical systems, you can simply merge the two and use the best of the most efficient, cost-effective and convenient option.
When it comes to heating a home or property with electricity, it is safe. There are no byproducts like allergens and carbon dioxide that can harm you, your neighbors and the environment.
The other great thing is that you can allow this system to work with pilot light. This eliminates the possibility of explosion or having to restart the system.
Also, unlike gas heat, unused rooms can be kept at the same temperature as frequently used rooms and it helps in reducing costs and saving energy.
Pros of Electric Heaters
The electric heater is much easier to use when compared to gas heaters. You do not need to waste gas to ensure that the pilot light burns.
Also, you can turn it off when not in use, unlike gas heaters where you have to relight it every time in order to use the heater. Since they run on electricity, you can be sure that they are extremely safe to you.
In terms of installation, a new electric water heater will effectively decrease the cost of making more hot water and keeping it hot always. Since they are very energy efficient, it will reduce the cost of operation significantly.
They are even more beneficial than energy-efficient products that can save on energy costs. They can be installed anywhere in your home and are simpler to handle. The life expectancy of an electric over a gas heater is greater.
No Wastage of Electricity
An electrical heater needs only heat that is used for the amount of water that is used. It does not store any water and as a result, there is no extra electricity that is used to heat the remaining water that is not used. This way you can enjoy a hot shower and save yourself from exuberant costs.
Between the two heaters, this water heater avoids a lot of water wastage. How? Electric heaters heat water that is used only on demand and hence there is no excess water that gets wasted in the process.
This means that you do not waste water while waiting for it to get warm, it takes a few seconds to heat up. This will help you make huge savings and will do a whole lot of good for the environment.
Never Run Out of Hot Water
With an electric heater, you will never run out of hot water. This is because you can get access to as much hot water that you need and additional water will be heated in a matter of seconds.
If you have a broken heater, it can be easily fixed. This is because parts can be replaced easily and can be bought and repaired in a few minutes, unlike a gas heater.
Your electric heater is quieter, can be used as a supplement to an existing system and responds quickly unlike a slow starting gas furnace.
Cons of Electric Heaters
Expensive in the Long Run
Though the initial installation costs are much lesser than gas heaters, it can be way more expensive in the long run. This is because electricity is more expensive than gas. You can save on installation costs but you would have to spend a huge amount on energy bills.
No Electricity, No Hot Water
The worst part of the electric heaters is that they rely on electricity to work. This means that if your house experiences power cuts then you will have to go with a cold shower.
Longer Recovery Time
There is a longer recovery time when it comes to electric heaters. This is because once the full capacity of the tank is used, it will take time to fill up again.
This means that you could run out of hot water if you have a really long bath and then you will have to waste time when it comes to heating water again.
If a short circuit or a fuse blows then it can be potentially dangerous. This can happen more often than any major problem that arises with a gas heater.
Choosing an Electric Heater
Electric heaters are easy to plug in and use. They are usually wall-mounted electric heaters that require a formal installation and this process is simple.
This makes electric furnaces generally faster and easier to install, and less expensive than gas furnaces since there is no venting system needed.
Though the initial purchase price is lower than the gas heater, there is a higher cost of electricity that makes it more expensive. This is based on operating costs that are higher month after month.
You should know that the lifespan of durable electric furnaces is between 20 to 30 years. This is a longer lifespan than any gas furnaces available in the market.
In terms of maintenance, an electric heater is a simple process and does not require much effort or a lot of knowledge. This is because you can maintain it yourself and only need the help of a technician on rare occasions when there is a breakdown.
The main reason electric heaters are safe is that it does not combust fuel onsite. There is no risk of carbon monoxide or gas leaks.
All high-power electrical equipment runs on the risk of malfunctioning and starting a fire. At times, it would need occasional maintenance and you can use the manual to reduce the threat of fire to your home.
Gas produces heat through the use of the furnace pushing warm air throughout a ventilated system. This works through a boiler that heats water into steam and circulates this through coils and radiators.
50% of all US homes are heated by natural gas heaters. This is due to the fact that natural gas is convenient and consistent and comes from an underground pipeline.
The boom surrounding natural gas across the nation has helped to keep operating costs low and suppliers will remain unchanged. But, gas systems cost a lot more than electrical systems to install and require a higher investment on things like pipes and ventilation.
Larger gas systems also require cleaning and annual servicing for it to work effectively. In time, old gas furnaces can be less efficient when converting energy to usable heat.
Pros of Gas Heaters
The best part about gas heaters is that they heat twice as fast as electric models. This works well if you have a large family and the water heater is in high demand.
This should be your main choice since your electric water heater will not be able to keep up with a constant supply of large amounts of hot water. Here, you can also control the rate of heating.
Low Energy Costs
Gas heaters are way more affordable when compared to electric heaters. This is due to the high demand of hot water and the costs involved. This primarily means that the running costs of electric is more than gas.
Work Without Electricity
When you install a gas heater, you should know that it ignites with a pilot light instead of an electric ignition. This will work even if the power goes out in your place.
If power cuts are a serious problem in your area then you should consider a gas heater. Don’t fret if there’s no electricity. All you have to do is let the gas heater run and you’ll have hot water even when there is no power.
Get Cleaner Water
This might sound unusual but it’s a fact! Gas heaters actually provide cleaner water.
When you use an electric heater, the tank where the water is stored gets dirty in time. After a while, the electric heater tank will get rusty and accumulate dust and impurities which gets mixed in the hot water.
But, this is not the case with gas heaters. You are ensured of clean and germ-free hot water at all times.
The long-term operating costs of electric heaters and the fact that using gas is way cheaper in the long run for gas heaters. Apart from this, these gas heaters are highly durable. They require a minimum maintenance or replacements and this will serve you for a long time.
Cons of Gas Heaters
High Initial Costs
Though your energy bills will be much lower than a gas water heater, the costs upfront will be heavier on your pocket. This is mainly due to the cost of installation.
Complex Installation Process
Unlike an electric heater that can be installed anywhere, a gas heater has a complex process when it comes to installation. This is due to the fact that it has a ventilation system that needs to be installed to the gas heater.
Also, if this is your first gas heater installation, then you will require PVC pipes to be installed to vent through the roof of the ventilation system. There is also a need for occasional maintenance or repairs that are needed when the heater is replaced.
When it comes to gas heaters, there is a considerable amount of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other gases released into the air during combustion.
Large and Bulky
Gas heaters are pretty huge and can take up a considerable amount of space in the bathroom. If you have installed the heater in a house then it will require piping for each room. Also, biogas heaters take up more space that is needed for decomposing waste outdoors.
Choosing a Gas Heater
When it comes to installation, you would require a professional as these gas furnaces are large and the process is complex. They require a chimney or a duct to vent out emissions.
This means that you need a large enough home that can allow you to fix a chimney if you don’t have one already.
The installation and purchase price is much higher than an electric model. However, in the long run, natural gas expenses is much lesser than electricity and makes these furnaces more affordable to run.
Typically, a gas furnace would last 10 to 20 years with regular maintenance. This is unlike others where the lifespan is shorter than electric heaters.
With a gas furnace, you would require an annual maintenance that is performed by a professional to keep gas heaters in good conditions. This will help it last for several seasons, all year long.
Gas heaters can have a potential carbon monoxide leak which is poisonous or fatal in high doses. If you install a carbon monoxide detector then you will be aware of the danger and they know that you need to plug the leak.
There is a chance that these gas leaks cause fires and you will have learned about how to keep it under control with constant maintenance.
Other Water Heaters Available
One of the most popular heating systems is solar and almost every home in New Zealand has one. They provide highly efficient ways to meet part of the home’s water heating needs.
Usually, a well designed and installed solar water heating system can provide 75% of a home’s water heating needs in summer and up to 45% in winter. Since it cannot provide all the heating needs, a booster system would be required.
This could be a gas, electric or heat pump. Therefore, to get the maximum efficiency, solar heating should be designed well and installed in the right manner.
When it comes to your heat pump, it uses heat from outdoor air to heat the storage cylinder. Since heat pumps use electricity to move heat but not create it and so it is highly energy efficient. Heat pumps are used as a booster option for solar heating.
Wetbacks provide a boost to the water heating system. This is important especially during the winter and suitable during cold climates where there is a lot of space for heating.
Heaters and HomeWarrantyReviews.com
The bottom line is that gas heaters are the best option for a large home or if you live in a place with a cold climate. Heating requires these situations that allow a gas furnace to recoup but requires high maintenance.
While electric heaters are a superior option, they don’t work well in colder climates and where there are power cuts. This is great in case natural gas is scarcely available.
You need to decide between the initial cost, installation cost and other factors which include design and capacity. As mentioned earlier, there are other options which include solar, heat pump and wetback systems.
You also have to determine the space that you have to install the heater and which is most expensive in the long run. Other added things to note is the energy efficiency and the impact on the environment.
So while considering this, you should also choose the right home warranty plan. Avoid falling prey to home warranty scams by knowing which home warranty companies are out of business.
This means that you need to opt for the best one and choose one among the top 10. Why a home warranty? This is because it covers appliances and systems like your heater. This requires constant maintenance and checks to ensure that it works without a glitch.
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