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Cost of gas vs electric water heater: Which is more efficient?

Looking for ways to heat your water for less? We're going to delve into the hot topic of efficiency by comparing the cost of a gas vs electric water heater, including a detailed breakdown of installation costs, yearly running costs, and pros and cons.

The cost of a gas vs electric water heater is really a question of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. And as gas and electric water heaters are two of the main options for keeping your showers warm, it makes sense to undertake a side-by-side comparison.

Gas and electric heaters come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages, installation and running costs, and sustainability credentials. So, keep reading to see which one comes out on top.

Related content: Here’s our tankless water heater cost guide for more information.

The difference between gas and electric water heaters

Gas water heaters burn natural gas or propane to heat the water in your home, whereas electric water heaters (which are usually tankless) use mains electricity to heat your water.

Gas vs electric water heater installation costs

The installation costs for gas water heaters are often higher than the price of installing electric heaters. This is mainly because gas heaters need a gas line connection and require appropriate ventilation to avoid gas leaks and fires. You will need to hire a Gas Safe engineer for this.

Electric water heaters generally have lower installation costs because they’re easier to install and don’t need a gas line. However, it’s worth noting that the overall costs will vary depending on the complexity of the electrical work required.

Why not ask an electrician for a quote and see how much labour and parts might set you back?

Tankless water heater cost

Gas vs electric water heater operating cost

In terms of running costs, gas water heaters are generally more energy-efficient than their electric counterparts.

Gas prices in the UK often vary, but they’re typically cheaper than electricity, which results in lower monthly bills.

However, it’s important to consider the overall efficiency of your gas system, as older water heaters may have lower efficiency ratings compared to newer models.

This is especially true when considering modern electric water heaters, which have improved energy efficiency credentials that offset some of the operating costs.

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Gas vs electric water heater monthly cost

Gas heater costs

As stated, gas water heaters tend to have lower operating costs due to natural gas being cheaper than electricity.

So, on average, the monthly running costs for a gas water heater can range from £20 to £40, depending on factors such as the size of the heater, your home’s average hot water usage, and gas prices in your area.

Electric heater costs

Electric water heaters typically have higher operating costs due to the higher price of electricity. As a result, the monthly running costs for an electric water heater can range from £30 to £60 per month.

However, this depends on the heater’s capacity, your home’s typical hot water usage, and the electricity prices in your area.

It’s worth noting that newer electric water heaters often have improved energy efficiency, which helps to offset some of the higher operating costs.

Additionally, implementing energy-saving practices like using water-efficient fixtures and insulating hot water pipes will help reduce overall monthly costs for both gas and electric water heaters.

In any case, it’s crucial to consult with your local energy providers for accurate and up-to-date information on energy tariffs in your specific area.

We recommend undertaking a thorough analysis of your hot water usage patterns, which will provide a more precise estimate of the monthly running costs for your chosen type of water heater.

Related content: Gas vs electric heat cost; which is cheaper?

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Advantages and disadvantages of gas vs electric heaters

Pros of gas water heaters

  • Lower operating costs due to typically lower gas prices
  • Faster heating times, which allow for more hot water availability
  • A continuous hot water supply during power outages (gas water heaters don’t rely on electricity to run)
  • Longer lifespans compared to electric heaters (with the right maintenance)

Cons of gas water heaters

  • Higher upfront installation costs due to the need for gas line connections and ventilation
  • Limited placement options due to ventilation requirements
  • Combustion byproducts, such as carbon monoxide, mean proper ventilation and regular maintenance are needed for safety reasons

Pros of electric water heaters

  • Lower upfront installation costs due to the absence of gas line connections and ventilation requirements
  • Simplicity and ease of installation, allowing for more flexible placement options
  • Higher energy efficiency in modern models, reducing long-term running costs
  • No combustion byproducts, ensuring cleaner indoor air quality

Cons of electric water heaters

  • Higher monthly operating costs due to the typically higher price of electricity in the UK
  • Slower heating times compared to gas water heaters
  • Dependency on electricity, which may result in no hot water during power outages

Immersion heater cost replacement

The yearly cost of gas vs an electric tankless water heater

Using gas to heat your hot water for the year will average between £200 and £400. The yearly operating costs for an electric tankless water heater will average between £300 and £600.

Again, these costs are only rough estimates. The exact number for your circumstances will vary depending on the current electricity prices in your area and your typical hot water usage.

Are electric tankless water heaters worth it overall?

Electric tankless water heaters are energy efficient, space-saving, and enjoy a longer lifespan. However, they come with a higher upfront cost and may require electrical system upgrades.

To determine if electric tankless water heaters are worth it for you, consider your hot water needs, your available budget, and whether the long-term energy savings are worth it compared to the initial investment.

Asking a professional plumber or heating expert can also provide valuable insights based on your specific circumstances.

Gas vs electric hot water heater calculator

To compare the costs of a gas and electric hot water heater and estimate potential savings, use a gas vs electric hot water heater calculator.

These calculators consider factors such as energy prices, usage patterns, and equipment efficiency to provide a more accurate cost comparison.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to find and use a reputable calculator and what to consider.

Hit the search engines

Research and select a reputable gas vs electric hot water heater calculator. Note that some energy providers or government websites may offer heater calculators specific to your region.

Fill out your details

Input your location or select the appropriate region so the calculator can consider your local energy prices accurately.

Provide details about your current hot water usage, such as the number of occupants in your household, average shower lengths, and any other activities requiring hot water (e.g., your washing machine and dishwasher).

Specify the efficiency ratings of each comparison

For example, efficiency ratings for gas water heaters are typically expressed in the form of an Energy Factor (EF), while electric water heaters use the Uniform Energy Factor (UEF).

Input the current costs

Enter the unit costs of gas and electricity per kWh or cubic meter (m³), which is easily found on your recent energy bill or local energy providers’ websites.

Include extra data as needed

Tweak any additional parameters the calculator may offer, such as standby losses, insulation levels, or recovery time.

Run the calculations and review the results

The calculator should provide estimates of annual operating costs for gas and electric water heaters based on your inputs.

By using a gas vs electric hot water heater calculator, you can compare the estimated costs and potential savings over time. This will help you make a more informed decision based on your specific situation and preferences.

Final thoughts

The choice between a gas water heater and an electric water heater depends on various factors, including installation costs, running costs, and individual preferences.

Gas water heaters generally offer lower operating costs, faster heating times, and greater resilience during power outages. On the other hand, electric water heaters have lower installation costs, more flexibility in their placement, and improved energy efficiency.

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Working with professional estimators, we collate cost estimates for the common home improvement and repair jobs in the UK.

All the costs are estimates only. For accurate costs for your particular requirements, you are encouraged to reach out to professional tradespeople to receive a quote for your job.

Our estimators are Chartered Members (MRICS) of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Members of the Chartered Institute of Building (MCIOB). See full disclaimer.

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