Natural gas is the primary fuel-source for water heaters because it is generally more cost-efficient than electricity. In fact, some utility companies offer rebates for switching from an electric-, to a gas-powered water heater.
A gas burner continually heats the water in a storage tank from the bottom of the unit. Traditionally, gas water heaters have a lifetime of 8-12 years, and once they approach this age, most service providers will not perform maintenance, as the cost of the repair could outpace the value of the unit.
Most residential water heaters are either 40-gallons, or 50-gallons, although other capacities on the market are 66-gallons, 75-gallons, 80-gallons and 120-gallons. Within the gas water heater family, there are three different types available: standard tank, Energy Star and tankless water heaters.
Standard Tank Water Heaters – these heaters feature a water storage tank and have been the standard for generations. These are the simplest, most affordable models, but they are also less-efficient than other, newer water heating technologies.
Energy Star Water Heaters – Energy Star water heaters have increased energy-efficiency compared to standard models. With better insulation and electric-ignition pilot lights, these water heaters can save you about $25-30 per year in heating costs. Also, there may be Energy Star water heater rebates available in your area.
Tankless Water Heaters – Tankless water heaters are the newest, most-efficient technology in water heating. They do not feature a tank so they save physical space, and additionally, they only heat water as you need it, so they are vastly more efficient than older models. One of the reasons people love tankless water heaters so much, is their ability to provide literally endless hot water.