Getting A New Water Heater? Time To Answer The Age-Old Question About Electric Vs. Gas

If you're about to buy a new water heater, you're going to have to decide on not only the brand and size but also the fuel type. Sometimes you have a distinct preference for one or the other, but for many people, the choice isn't so clear -- they've been using the water heater that was already installed in their homes and have never questioned the choice of fuel. If you're in that camp, read on to help yourself decide whether to get an electric or gas water heater.

The Cash You Have

Electric water heaters tend to be cheaper up front, so if you're trying to stay out of debt and pay for the appliance all at once, electric will work for you. However, if you're more concerned about your long-term budget issues, check the fuel prices listed on the past few utility bills. Chances are gas will be cheaper, and thus a better choice for cutting down on bill amounts. However, keep in mind that you can buy timers for electric water heaters that cut off power, so you end up using less electricity.

The Fears You Have

Both electricity and gas have their negative, scary sides. Electric water heaters can electrocute you or cause an electrical fire. Gas water heaters can leak gas and suffocate you, leak carbon monoxide, or explode. So, pick the fuel that scares you less. If you do not like the risk of a gas leak, live in a quake zone, or have been through carbon monoxide poisoning before, electricity might be better for you. If you are nervous about dealing with wiring, gas might be better.

The Power Supply You Have

One thing to know about new gas water heaters is that a lot of them use electronic ignitions anyway for the pilot lights. That means that the heater won't work if the power is out. If you want to get a water heater that will work while the power is out, you'd have to look specifically for one with a standing pilot light. However, that means that the water heater would continually use some sort of fuel, even if it were a small amount.

Water heater installers should have lots of experience with each type, so they are a great source for more information. The water heater you get is supposed to last for years, so make this choice a good one.