Unlike trading in your fossil-fueled car for a hybrid model to save on fuel costs, switching from a gas to an electric water heater will not save you money. Unlike gasoline, natural gas burns cleaner (and cheaper!) than electricity.
In some regions, electric-powered water heaters are the norm. These electric units are much more efficient than gas-powered units, but will cost you about twice as much in energy bills as a gas heater.
Electric water heaters work from the inside-out, by warming “elements”, or rods, submerged in a water storage tank, transferring heat from the elements to the water. Although electric water heaters operate as much as 50% more efficiently than their gas-powered counterparts, electric water heating bills can be as much as double.
Without going into too much detail, a lot of the cost to heat water with electricity is wasted in the generation and transmission of the electricity in the first place.
There are three types of electric water heaters:
Standard Tank – typically, electric tanks are rated around .90. You might think that’s as good as a gas tankless, but again, considering the design and the laws of thermodynamics, let’s just consider this a baseline, and not an indication of the same cost savings as you’ll see with a gas tankless water heater. With In this kind of tank, picture two elements getting red hot and transferring heat to your water.
High-Efficiency Tank – These tanks are like standard tanks but better insulated, and are often rated as high as .94-.95, equaling perhaps $10-$15 in annual electric savings.
Hybrid Heat Pump – Hybrid heat pump water heaters use the ambient air temperature to preheat your water so it doesn’t have as many degrees to rise. They are housed in a garage, attic, or other unconditioned space. Heat pump water heaters can save up to 50% of your energy costs for water heating and depending on where you live, there are substantial rebates and incentives available to convert from a traditional electric water heater to a heat pump water heater.
Hybrid water heaters do have some drawbacks, as they need a dedicated area for placement, and create about as much noise as a dishwasher in use. However, if you can accommodate for these contingencies, you can save significant dollars on your water heating bills and dramatically reduce your energy usage.
Most local plumbing codes mandate we pull a permit for the installation of a residential water heater. Call to find the exact price of a permit in your area. As the replacement of an electric water heater is considered an emergency, we can pull the permit for you without delaying any work.
Some utility companies offer rebates and incentives to convince their customers to switch from electric to gas water heaters.