Gas  vs  Electric Water Heater

Gas Water Heater

$1,300 - $2,600

(for 40-gallon heater, installed)



Electric Water Heater

$950 - $1,500

(for 40-gallon heater, installed)

Cost varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Gas Water Heater

comparison guide 1 Gas Water Heater
finger up green   PROS
  • Lower monthly energy costs
  • Heats the water faster
  • Comes in a range of sizes
  • High energy-efficiency models available
  • Able to use during a power outage
finger down grey  CONS
  • Higher upfront costs
  • More maintenance
  • Safety concerns
  • More energy loss
$1,300 - $2,600

(for 40-gallon heater, installed)

Get free advice and estimates from water heating professionals in your city.

Electric Water Heater

comparison guide 2 Electric Water Heater
finger up green   PROS
  • Lower upfront costs
  • Less maintenance
  • No safety concerns
  • Less energy loss
  • Available in a range of sizes
finger down grey  CONS
  • Higher monthly costs
  • No high-efficiency models available
  • Will not operate during a power outage
  • Does not heat the water as quickly
$950 - $1,500

(for 40-gallon heater, installed)

Get free advice and estimates from water heating professionals in your city.

A water heater is an integral part of every home and likely something you do not think about until it stops working. Since the typical lifespan of a water heater is between 8 and 15 years, it is likely that every homeowner will have to replace at least one over the years.

There are two basic fuel types for a standard water heater, gas and electricity. Both have positive and negative attributes to consider. We outline the differences between them below so that you can make an informed decision on which one will be right for your home.


Size impacts hot water heaters in two ways. First, most people are aware of the size in terms of gallons. The more water a tank holds, the larger it will be in general. Both electric and gas heaters come in multiple sizes from 20 to 100 gallons. But electric heaters are also available as point of origin heaters. You install this very small water heater directly at a faucet to provide hot water on demand for things like tea.

Second, the amount of space that a hot water heater takes up in your basement or utility room will be slightly less for an electric heater. Gas heaters need to vent, so they are a little bigger around and have pipes that need to exit your home, thus restricting their placement. Electric heaters can be more compact, which gives you more placement options.

Hot Water Availability

There are also a few things to consider about the hot water availability between the two options. The first is the energy supply because not every home has access to a gas line, but nearly every home has electricity. As long as you do not have a power outage, you will always have access to hot water with an electric heater. However, gas heaters can continue to heat your water even with an outage, provided there is no disruption in the gas line.

The other consideration to make is how much hot water the tank can produce in the first hour of use, which is called the first hour rating (FHR). Both gas and electric tanks have a range of FHR values. A higher number means there will be more water available quickly. However, gas heaters tend to heat up faster than electric heaters, so you can often find higher FHR on a gas heater.


While gas hot water heaters cost less to run due to the lower cost of natural gas, electric heaters are actually more efficient. This is due to the way that the heaters operate. A gas heater must vent the spent gas, which also takes some of the heat with it. An electric heater uses nearly all the energy it receives converting it into hot water, so you have less waste.

High energy-efficiency gas heaters exist and use significantly less energy overall. These are the only type of tank heater that has an Energy Star label. Electric tank heaters are not available in a high energy-efficiency style.


Replacing a gas hot water heater with either a gas or electric one or replacing an electric one with another electric one is typically a straightforward process. When installing an electric heater, it is plumbed and grounded. A gas heater with an existing gas supply is plumbed, the gas supply hooked up, and the vent connected.

The difficulty comes in when switching from electric to gas. In a new gas heater installation, the tank is plumbed like the others, but a gas line needs to be run to the new location. Then, a vent must be created, which may mean cutting or drilling into the side of the home. This can increase both the time and cost of the installation.


Of the two types of hot water heaters, electric costs less to purchase but costs more to run over time. Electric heaters have fewer parts, which accounts for their lower upfront cost. They also tend to be easier to install, so installation costs may also be less. But electricity costs more per month than the same amount of energy from natural gas. So while you pay less up front, a gas heater may pay for itself in lower energy costs over time.

The average monthly cost to run a gas or electric water heater will depend on how much heating you need, how big your home is, how much water you use, and the price of gas or electricity in your area. In general, however, statistics show that a gas water heat will cost around $30/month for the average home, while an electric heater will cost you closer to $42.

An electric hot water heater ranges in costs from about $300 to $700 while a gas heater ranges from $400 to $800. Installation costs for an electric heater are $700 to $1,000 while the cost to install a gas heater ranges from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on whether you have an existing gas line and vent. This makes the total cost for a 40-gallon electric hot water heater between $1000 and $1,700 with the total costs of a 40-gallon gas hot water heater between $1,400 and $2,800.


Both gas and electric water heaters are fairly easy to maintain. Both should be regularly flushed to keep sediment from building up on the bottom of the tank and shortening its lifespan. Some gas tanks may need the vent cleaned on occasion as well if particulates from the gas build up inside. All gas lines should be inspected periodically to prevent gas leaks.

Safety Concerns

If you have a natural gas appliance or gas line in your home, you run the risk of a gas leak and, therefore, an explosion. Likewise, you are at a higher risk of having carbon monoxide leaks in your home. Proper maintenance needs to be done on the vent and regular checks on the gas line to ensure that these issues do not occur. Electric hot water heaters do not pose these risks.

Environmental Concerns

If you like to live green and minimize your impact on the environment, it makes sense to consider the ecological impact of each option too. In general, electric heaters are better for the environment, as they tend to be more energy efficient and have the possibility of being powered through renewable energy sources like solar and hydro-electric power.

With gas water heaters, the only possible energy source is natural gas, which has to be extracted from the Earth in a very wasteful and damaging process that releases large amounts of greenhouse gases into the environment. Gas heaters are also less efficient overall, which also makes them less eco-friendly.

Our Top Picks

Whether you opt for a gas or electric water heater, there are hundreds of different models to choose from. To help narrow down your search, here are a few of our favorites to suit various budgets and needs.

Gas Water Heaters


One of the best rated gas water heaters on the market today, this superior model from Rheem is tankless, helping to maximize efficiency and take up less space in your home. It's easy to install and can be set-up outdoors due to its freeze-resistant design. With its Hot Start Programming, you won't have to worry about unexpected bursts of cold water, and it's quite a low maintenance model too.


Offering 6.5GPM of flow, this powerful tankless gas water heater is one of the best-performing and most-efficient models on the market. What's more, it's available at a great price, offering terrific value for money. You can actually download a mobile app to control this heater on-the-go, adjusting timers and schedules to suit your routine, and it uses 40% less energy than traditional tank-based heaters.

ALSO CONSIDER: Bradford White 40 Gallon Gas Heater

If you're looking for a classic tank heater, this 40 gallon model from Bradford White is a popular choice with many homeowners. Powered by ScreenLok technology for minimal maintenance and maximum output, this heater provides intelligent and effective water heating for the whole family to enjoy. LED lights on the tank indicate when the heater is running and if any maintenance is required, and there's even a sight window to let you see into the combustion chamber.

Electric Water Heaters


One of the most powerful electric water heaters you can buy today, the Rheem RTEX-24 residential water heater features a classy and compact design with an LED display to show you exactly what temperature the heater is operating at. It features strong and durable copper immersion heating elements for minimal maintenance and a long lifespan, as well as an impressive flow rate of up to 5.9GPM.

BEST VALUE: Ecosmart ECO 18

For those who want an eco-friendly water heater, the Ecosmart ECO 18 is designed with green living in mind. It can help you minimize your carbon footprint by wasting minimal energy and cutting down on your utility bills too. Featuring strong self-modulating technology, this durable tankless heater is able to make adjustments on the fly and heat enough water for two showers at the same time.

ALSO CONSIDER: Camplux TE27 Whole House Instant Water Heater

Standing out for its classy black design, this 27kW electric water heater looks the part and functions flawlessly too. It offers a range of impressive safety features like over voltage protection and dry combustion protection, as well as being fitted with intelligent self-modulation technology for total energy efficiency. It can be installed with ease around the home and even comes with a little remote control for your convenience.

Our experts independently research and recommend the best products. Retailers cannot influence or pay for the placement, reviews, or ratings of products. participates in the Amazon Services, LLC Associates Program and other affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn commissions on qualifying purchases made using our links to retailer sites.

Was this guide helpful to you?

Cost varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Anchorage, AK
Ashland, NH
Athens, GA
Atlanta, GA
Austin, TX
Baltimore, MD
Birmingham, AL
Boston, MA
Charlotte, NC
Chicago, IL
Cleveland, OH
Coldwater, MI
Colorado Springs, CO
Columbus, OH
Denver, CO
Edgewater, MD
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Fort Worth, TX
Grand Rapids, MI
Hartford, CT
Houston, TX
Huntsville, AL
Kissimmee, FL
Las Vegas, NV
Laurel, MT
Littleton, CO
Los Angeles, CA
Louisville, KY
Miami, FL
Mobile, AL
Modesto, CA
Naples, FL
Norfolk, VA
Oak Park, CA
Oklahoma City, OK
Orlando, FL
Pensacola, FL
Philadelphia, PA
Phoenix, AZ
Plymouth, WA
Pompano Beach, FL
Portland, OR
Reno, NV
Sacramento, CA
Saint Louis, MO
San Antonio, TX
San Diego, CA
Smyrna, GA
Tucson, AZ
Virginia Beach, VA

Labor cost in your zip code

Last modified:   See change history
Methodology and sources