Gas and Electric Water Heaters: What’s the Difference?

A woman’s hand turns a knob on an electric water heater. | Mr. Rooter Plumbing of The Oakland-Berkeley Area
Learn About Your Berkeley Home's Water Heater

Hot water is an essential part of our everyday lives, from cooking to taking hot showers. Without hot water, many basic tasks that we take for granted would become difficult or impossible. Hot water can be provided in a variety of ways, but the most popular method is through gas and electric water heaters.

Whether you're looking for a replacement water heater or just want to know more about your own system, Berkeley homeowners should understand the key differences between gas and electric water heaters.

Mr. Rooter Plumbing of The Oakland-Berkeley Area has extensive knowledge and experience when it comes to residential water heater installation, maintenance, and repairs. By informing our Berkeley customers about the different kinds of water heaters available, we hope to help you make more informed decisions about your home's plumbing.

What are Gas and Electric Water Heaters?

Gas and electric water heaters function in similar ways but use different energy sources. In a gas water heater, cold water is drawn into the tank and heated by a gas burner at the base. The heated water then rises to the top of the tank where it can be used when needed.

An electric water heater works in a similar way. Cold water is drawn into an insulated tank and heated via an electric element located at the bottom of the tank. As hot water is used, cold water flows in to replace it and is reheated using electricity stored in coils or elements within the unit.

Both gas and electric heaters are able to provide Berkeley residents with hot water on demand, making them essential appliances for any home. However, which one is right for you will depend on several factors.

How are Gas and Electric Water Heaters Installed?

Gas and electric water heaters are both essential appliances for Berkeley homes, providing hot water on demand. Although the two types of water heaters function in similar ways, there are distinct differences between gas and electric models when it comes to installation. Gas water heaters require a connection to a natural gas line or other fuel source, while electric versions can be plugged into an existing outlet.

Not every home has access to a gas line, so for some homeowners the installation costs may include having a gas line put in. Depending on your situation, you may opt for an electric water heater for the convenience of plugging into a suitable power outlet. However, keep in mind that this also means that you will be without hot water if your Berkeley home loses power.

Which Water Heater is More Energy Efficient?

Gas and electric water heaters are both relatively energy efficient, providing Berkeley homeowners with hot water on demand. Gas water heaters are less expensive to run on a monthly basis, primarily because natural gas is cheaper than electricity. However, they use more energy in the process of operating.

Although more expensive, the heat generated by electric water heaters almost entirely goes into the water and not the surrounding environment, resulting in less wasted energy and more overall efficiency. There are specialized high-efficiency models of both gas and electric water heaters that offer superior energy savings, but generally speaking, electric heaters are more efficient.

Which Water Heater Lasts Longer?

When it comes to choosing a water heater for your Berkeley residential plumbing, one of the key factors to consider is lifespan. Overall, the lifespan of gas and electric water heaters is pretty similar, but electric water heaters generally last slightly longer than their gas counterparts. Electric water heaters have an average lifespan of 10-15 years, with gas heaters clocking in around 8-12 years.

Gas vs. Electric Water Heater Maintenance

Both gas and electric water heaters require periodic maintenance to ensure that they remain in proper working condition. Electric water heaters should be inspected annually or bi-annually, and any sediment buildup should be flushed out on a regular basis.

Annual maintenance for gas water heaters includes:

  • A thorough inspection of the unit
  • Flushing out any sediment buildup
  • Checking the temperature and pressure relief valve
  • Inspecting the anode rod

With gas water heaters, you may also need to occasionally relight the pilot light if it goes out. While gas heaters require dealing with flames, electric water heaters require specialized care due to their electrical components. In either case, seeking professional help when conducting routine maintenance on your water heater is a good idea for safety reasons.

What About Tankless Water Heaters?

Tankless water heaters are a great option for Berkeley homeowners looking to reduce energy waste and save money. Unlike traditional water heaters that use a storage tank to constantly maintain hot water, tankless water heaters only produce hot water when it's needed. They work by instantly heating up cold water as it passes through coils or elements inside the heater.

This efficient system provides a continuous supply of hot water that never runs out, saving homeowners both time and money. Tankless water heaters come in both gas and electric varieties, offering Berkeley homeowners flexibility when choosing a model for their home. Additionally, tankless water heaters tend to last longer than traditional storage tank water heaters.

Berkeley Water Heater Repairs and Replacements

At Mr. Rooter Plumbing of The Oakland-Berkeley Area, we provide reliable water heater installation, maintenance, and repair services. Our team of experienced plumbers is knowledgeable in both gas and electric water heaters, so you can be sure that your system will be installed correctly the first time. We also offer routine maintenance to keep your unit running smoothly for years to come.

Our 24/7 emergency plumbing services ensure that any unexpected water heater repairs you might need are taken care of promptly and professionally, preventing further damage to your home. With us, you can rest assured knowing that your home's hot water needs are being taken care of by a trusted local professional.

Contact us online or call today to learn more about our Oakland and Berkeley residential plumbing services. We look forward to assisting you!