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Sartrean 01-12-2012 01:05 AM

Water heater - Gas or Electric
 
I know this is somewhat of a subjective question but currently the house we bought came with a very old electric water heater that is near the end of its life. We were thinking of trading the electric water heater for natural gas. When I went to Sears, the sales rep looked at me funny and said "I never heard of anyone wanting to go to gas if they already had electric". This comment seemed odd to me but I really cant find any quantitative information about which is better. The best information I can find is that electric is supposedly 100% efficient (I question this) and Natural Gas is about 60%-70% efficient.

If anyone has swapped electric for gas and can lend some advice on which was/is a better choice.

I have priced the requirements for the change over to gas and I will require electric venting because we do not have a chimney to vent into. I was quoted $1700 for the gas water heater with installation and venting. Sears has an electric water heater for about $350.00 but my understanding is that the yearly cost is higher.

Also, it is only my wife and I in the house, what gallon capacity is best for us while also being able to accomodate for the future?

Thanks

creeper 01-12-2012 05:29 AM

I think it is going to depend entirely on energy rates for your area. For me, switching out my electirc water heater and furnace to gas last year, has resulted in huge savings. Electricity rates in my area are outrageous
For sure the install was expensive, but it won't take long to see the return. My bill has been slashed by at least 60percent or more.

DrHicks 01-12-2012 07:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sartrean (Post 820211)
I know this is somewhat of a subjective question but currently the house we bought came with a very old electric water heater that is near the end of its life. We were thinking of trading the electric water heater for natural gas. When I went to Sears, the sales rep looked at me funny and said "I never heard of anyone wanting to go to gas if they already had electric". This comment seemed odd to me but I really cant find any quantitative information about which is better. The best information I can find is that electric is supposedly 100% efficient (I question this) and Natural Gas is about 60%-70% efficient.

If anyone has swapped electric for gas and can lend some advice on which was/is a better choice.

I have priced the requirements for the change over to gas and I will require electric venting because we do not have a chimney to vent into. I was quoted $1700 for the gas water heater with installation and venting. Sears has an electric water heater for about $350.00 but my understanding is that the yearly cost is higher.

Also, it is only my wife and I in the house, what gallon capacity is best for us while also being able to accomodate for the future?

Thanks

I've had both gas and electric water heaters. There are pros and cons to both.

A gas water heater will have a lower monthly cost of operation. How much depends on utility rates in your area. But let's say that you're saving $10 per month with a gas water heater (I doubt the savings will be that high). Based on the figures you've given, it will take 13 years to recoup the extra cost of installing a gas water heater. And that's assuming no maintenance issues.

If you already had a gas water heater, that'd be an entirely different situation.

TarheelTerp 01-12-2012 07:12 AM

If gas service (and a flue!) is available... go that route.
(try to avoid having to use an induced draft model)

As with a simple gas stove...
when the power goes out you'll still be able to cook and have hot water.

Quote:

..I will require electric venting because we do not have a chimney to vent into. I was quoted $1700 for the gas water heater with installation and venting.
Maybe not on the "require" part.
Depending on how the house is built and where you locate it...
you may be able to install a B vent flue with FR chase.

Cost won't be much less though unless you can DIY.

Edgar214 01-12-2012 07:29 AM

You might want to check with an independent plumbing company. I would suggest looking into a Bradford White 40 gallon gas water heater. It should be more than ample for two people.
Mike

del schisler 01-12-2012 08:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sartrean (Post 820211)
I know this is somewhat of a subjective question but currently the house we bought came with a very old electric water heater that is near the end of its life. We were thinking of trading the electric water heater for natural gas. When I went to Sears, the sales rep looked at me funny and said "I never heard of anyone wanting to go to gas if they already had electric". This comment seemed odd to me but I really cant find any quantitative information about which is better. The best information I can find is that electric is supposedly 100% efficient (I question this) and Natural Gas is about 60%-70% efficient.

If anyone has swapped electric for gas and can lend some advice on which was/is a better choice.

I have priced the requirements for the change over to gas and I will require electric venting because we do not have a chimney to vent into. I was quoted $1700 for the gas water heater with installation and venting. Sears has an electric water heater for about $350.00 but my understanding is that the yearly cost is higher.

Also, it is only my wife and I in the house, what gallon capacity is best for us while also being able to accomodate for the future?

Thanks

One electric out and one electric in and done . This can be a DIY thing. I don't do sear's they don't make that any way. I guess if you got the extra money go for it. Check the box store's thay have warrenty just like sears . A 40 gal should do it.

Sartrean 01-12-2012 12:58 PM

Thanks for all the replies everyone, I'll take everything into consideration.

Knauer 01-12-2012 01:26 PM

Have you looked into tankless? Only heats water when you need it and if your looking at spending that much to go gas, you should consider it and get a few bids. If you are in a warm region of the country tankless is defiantly a great way to go. Electric is generally more expensive vs gas, but that always depends on your area sometimes gas is a lot more expensive. For a 2-3 person use without a large soaking tub 40-50gal is the norm.

Anti-wingnut 01-12-2012 01:57 PM

Electric is by all practical accounts 100% efficient. All the power goes to heating the elements, then to heating the water. Gas sends a lot of heat up the flue.

Daniel Holzman 01-12-2012 02:13 PM

It is correct to state that electric is 100 percent efficient, in the technical sense that all of the electric energy is converted to heat energy. It is also correct to state that most gas hot water heaters are less than 85 percent efficient, using the same definition of efficiency. HOWEVER, the cost of electricity on an equivalent heat unit basis versus gas is as much as 5 times higher than gas. For example, in my home state of Massachusetts, I pay about 19 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity.

One kilowatt hour is equivalent to .034 therms (3400 BTU's). Natural gas is not available to my house, but in the general area the cost is about $12 per 1000 cubic feet, which is about $12 per million BTU's. Electricity at my house is about $55 per million BTU's, which is almost five times the price of natural gas. You can do an equivalent calculation at your house, based on the actual price per BTU for gas versus electricity. Even accounting for electricity being 100 percent efficient, the actual cost to heat hot water using electricity is about 4 times the cost for natural gas.

In order to perform a valid cost analysis, you need to account for the initial cost of installation for the hot water heater, the annual maintenance cost, and account for the replacement cost (how long do you expect your tank to last?). My point is that the analysis is not subjective, it can be based entirely on relatively well known facts, such as the cost to install, the cost of fuel, and the lifespan of the devices. Of course, the price of natural gas and electricity can change, however electricity rarely changes more than a few percent per year, and natural gas is likely to remain stable or even decrease in price over the next decade, as increasing amounts of shale gas come on the market.

Sartrean 01-13-2012 02:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman

One kilowatt hour is equivalent to .034 therms (3400 BTU's). Natural gas is not available to my house, but in the general area the cost is about $12 per 1000 cubic feet, which is about $12 per million BTU's. Electricity at my house is about $55 per million BTU's, which is almost five times the price of natural gas. You can do an equivalent calculation at your house, based on the actual price per BTU for gas versus electricity. Even accounting for electricity being 100 percent efficient, the actual cost to heat hot water using electricity is about 4 times the cost for natural gas.

I looked into this today, in Michigan, rates are around 0.41/therm and 0.19/Kw hr.

A person who replied to this post, pointed out that it would take many years to recoup the installation cost to convert to gas. I guess the question is, do I save money now and hemorrhage money over its life or cut the artery and go for gas.

The lesser of two evils is still an evil >.<

Daniel Holzman 01-13-2012 03:10 PM

I question that figure of .41 per therm. That would be $4.10 per million BTU, which is approximately wholesale price at the wellhead. Hard to get that kind of price unless you live next to a natural gas well. But regardless, it seems clear that the cost for gas fuel would be less than 1/4 the cost for electric fuel. Now you need to confirm the actual delivered price for gas, then figure the initial installation cost and maintenance cost, and you can make a valid analysis.

creeper 01-13-2012 03:10 PM

I posted earlier and there is no way that it will take me years to recoup the cost of the new gas install. It will be a year on Jan.27. I cannot accurately estimate the saving or return because of other variables that positively affected my electric bill such as upgraded insulation ect., but I am sure glad I converted.

DrHicks 01-13-2012 03:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by creeper (Post 821596)
I posted earlier and there is no way that it will take me years to recoup the cost of the new gas install. It will be a year on Jan.27. I cannot accurately estimate the saving or return because of other variables that positively affected my electric bill such as upgraded insulation ect., but I am sure glad I converted.

My electric bill, on a 4,000 sq ft house, is just under $50 per month - and that includes an electric water heater. Let's say that half of my bill is due to the water heater (even though that $50 per month includes air conditioning). It would take over 50 months (4+ years) to recoup the $1350 extra for a gas water heater, mentioned in the OP. And that's not factoring in the cost of running the gas water heater.

I can only assume that the difference between a gas & electric water heater - in your case - was nowhere near $1350.

creeper 01-13-2012 03:54 PM

My house is around 1900 sq ft. My electric bill for Jan/2010 was over $500 and that was keeping the thermostat low, because I paid another couple of hundred for the noisy, ugly propane fireplace.

New gas water heater, new furnace, new windows, more insulation in attic = gas bill for Dec/2011- $100 and electric bill for Dec/2011- $45.50 plus another $50 in delivery charges, $5 in regulatory charges, $4 debt retirement charge and 13.50 in taxes...bunch of crooks. Considering last summer during an intense heat wave Ontario Hydro sold some surplus hydro to the States for cheaper than what they charge local consumers.

Anyway, I paid $1100 for the water heater install, including the piping to bring the gas into the house. I think it was a really good price for up here, because the installer quoted me that based on his confidence of getting the furnace job as well.


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