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Gas Vs. Electric Tankless Water Heater. Which One is Better?

Are you hesitating between a gas water heater and an electric tankless water heater? Here is all the information you need to make an educated choice between those two types of water heaters. See what the prices and benefits of each one are. Should you choose an electric tankless or gas water heater? What are the optimal conditions of use according to the characteristics of each type? What is the best option for you? Keep on reading to discover the answers!

What is a Tankless Water Heater?

The tankless water heater can heat domestic water on demand. Since it has no tank, it can be integrated into the smallest house without any issue. You will benefit from an almost unlimited supply of hot water and state-of-the-art technology while enjoying the energy savings.

What is a Gas Water Heater?

The gas water heater is relatively common in Canadian homes. As the name suggests, the latter produces hot water by combustion of gas. Although the price of gas has steadily increased in recent years, its use remains competitive. By default, gas water heaters are intended to be used to consume town gas, but they can also use other gases such as butane or propane, subject to slight modifications.

The Advantages of a Tankless Water Heater: 

  • Saving energy and space at home
  • Little energy loss;
  • Reduced running costs;
  • Compact and easy to use;
  • No bacterial proliferation;
  • They have a long lifespan (over 20 years), compared to conventional water heaters (10 to 15 years);
  • Hot water on unlimited demand, at all times.
  • Space-saving: the devices are much smaller than traditional water heaters
  • Durability: the service life is at least twice that of tank water heaters
  • Environmental footprint: less energy consumption and less material to throw away or recycle when replacing
  • Endless hot water: all members of the family can shower in turn, without running out of hot water

The Disadvantages of a Tankless Water Heater

  • Cost of the device: two to three times higher than that of a conventional water heater
  • Installation cost: can easily reach $ 2000, especially if it is necessary to modify the electrical input
  • Economic return: energy savings may not justify purchasing and installation expenses
  • Temperature variations: The water temperature could vary depending on cold weather or the use of more than one faucet at a time.
  • In an old building, the modifications required are not worth the effort. It’s not just a question of electrical input or gas connection. For the instant water heater to provide a pleasant performance, all faucets should have water savers, which reduces the flow.

Maintenance of an Electric Tankless Water Heater

Electric water heaters are easy to use. They do not require special maintenance to maintain their performance. However, it is advisable to check the anode and resistance of these devices at least once a year. If you need to change one of these parts, you have to think about descaling the tank. It is recommended to replace it every five years. Before any intervention on an electric water heater, it should be remembered that any contact between water and electric current causes excellent disasters. 

The Advantages of the Gas Water Heater

The gas water heater has many strengths:

  • A profitable investment: Unlike the electric water heater, the gas water heater’s cost price over the long term is relatively low. 
  • The gas water heater is more efficient in terms of energy efficiency and consumes less expensive fuel.
  • Ease of maintenance: The maintenance of the gas water heater is less expensive than an electric model. Indeed, due to the absence of electrical resistance, descaling is not necessary.

The Disadvantages of the Gas Water Heater

Some disadvantages are also to be taken into account about the gas water heater:

  • Bulky: Most models cannot fit in every room of the house due to their large size. The gas water heater cannot be installed in a room, for example, because it must benefit from natural window-type ventilation for the evacuation of fumes.
  • A relatively high purchase price: Compared to other models of water heaters, the gas model is more expensive to purchase.
  • Pollutant: If you want to build an ecological home, gas heating is not the best option because of the high carbon dioxide emanation.

Maintenance of a Gas Water Heater

Gas water heaters are more complex. Guaranteeing their longevity first and foremost requires annual maintenance. Also, their care involves professionalism and special skills. In this case, it is necessary to have a maintenance contract or to contact an experienced heating engineer for an annual visit. However, maintenance can only be done as long as you turn off the electricity and close the water shut-off valve and the gas valve. The valve and the water inlet seal must be replaced every year. To clean the fins of the heating body, a soft wire brush is necessary. 

Prices and Energy Savings

Is it profitable? A typical Canadain family of 4 consumes around 600 m³ of natural gas annually for water heating, i.e., a bill of $ 340. Considering a 22% reduction in consumption, the annual savings amount to $ 75. A study by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) estimates the gas savings at 230 m³ / year, which at the cost of $ 0.30 / m³ represents annual savings of $ 69. If the average additional charge of a tankless water heater is $ 525, you will pay for your purchase in seven years! The payback time may, however, triple if you are billed for a first gas installation (the cost varies considerably depending on the evacuation method and the installer, but it should be around a $ 1,000) and could approach the lifespan of the system, which is over 20 years old.

So there you have the difference between a Gas water heater and an Electric Tankless Water Heater. Depending on your situation, needs, and budget, you can choose which one is the best option for you using all the information above. 

For a new water heater installation or for maintenance, you can count on Smile HVAC – the best water heater service in the Great Toronto Area

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