Whether it's time to replace your water heater or install one for the first time, it's important to understand the difference between natural gas and electricity so you know which energy source to use when powering your appliance. You may already have a preference for using a tank or tankless water heater, but you’ll still need to compare gas and electricity before making a decision. In this article, we’ve gathered all the pros and cons of gas versus electric to help you choose the best option. What is My Current Heater Powered By? If you’re wondering which power source your current appliance uses, don’t worry, you’re not the only one who needs to be reminded. The key difference in their appearance is that gas water heaters have a pilot light, which is a blue flame located behind the side access panel, and electric water heaters don’t. The difference in their build isn’t the only thing that sets them apart, but it’s good to know which one you’re familiar with. Once you know which element your current heater is powered by, start asking yourself the following questions to figure out whether or not you would be more satisfied by its alternative: How many of my appliances require water to heat quickly? Gas-powered water heaters heat up quickly, while electricity-powered water heaters take a little longer. If you’re powering an office water heater, you don’t necessarily need the ability for your water to heat fast. However, if you’re powering something like an apartment building or hotel where multiple people may need access to hot water at the same time, you’ll probably want to choose a gas water heater. Does my current heater take up too much space? Electric water heaters are best for areas with limited space because they’re usually made more compact. Gas water heaters are larger because they’re installed with pipes feeding from outside your building, and generally just need a little extra space to breathe. So if space matters, electric is the option for you. Buying a tankless water heater may be something you should start considering as well. Am I practicing enough energy efficiency? If you’re extra conscious of the environmental impact your appliances have, you’ll probably want to go with an electric hot water heater as they’re made to operate a little more eco-friendly. They also have the potential to utilize renewable energy eventually, while gas hot water heaters are powered by non-renewable energy. If gas still ends up being the better option for you, there are some energy efficient gas-powered heaters you can look into. Alternatively, you can combat the impact gas usage has on your carbon footprint by replacing other utilities with energy efficient products. What energy source is my home or building equipped with? Changing your water heater from one energy source to another isn’t a job you can do on your own. Converting from gas to electric requires both a plumber and electrician to get the job done. On the other hand, converting from electric to gas requires adding gas piping, a power vent model and there natural gas has to be available in your area. You’re also going to be even more limited if your home doesn’t have a chimney, as that will require a specific model as well. Other Factors to Consider After identifying which factors you like about your current water heater and which you want to change, you should have a little bit of an idea as to which power source you’re leaning towards. To further educate you, let’s take a look at other factors to consider before you make your decision. Cost Comparison The monthly operating cost to run a gas or electric water heater depends on how much heating and water you need to use, how big the space you’re heating is, and the area’s gas or electricity pricing. Usually, gas-powered water heaters are less per month, but installation costs are usually higher and dependent on whether or not you have an existing gas line. Electricity-powered water heaters have a lower upfront cost because they’re usually easier to install, but tend to cost more on your monthly electricity bill. Power outages Because electric water heaters are powered by electricity, they won’t work during a power outage. This means you may need to invest in a power generator if you haven’t already. Because gas water heaters run on a different energy source, they won’t be impacted by any power outages. Maintenance and safety Both appliances require minimal maintenance. Flushing the heater a few times each year is all you’ll need to do, but it’s wise to set reminders for yourself to do so. If you forget, you risk reducing your heater’s efficiency and lifespan. Gas heaters do require a little extra maintenance, as it is recommended gas lines be checked regularly to prevent leaks, which could potentially be a safety hazard. Final Pros and Cons Summary To summarize and help you confirm your decision, read through the gas vs. electric water heater pros and cons listed all together below. Gas Water Heater Pros \tLower operating cost (which means a lower electricity bill) \tStill works during a power outage \tHeat water faster \tLess regular maintenance required \tUses less energy overall Cons \tHigher installation cost \tHigher safety risk \tLess efficient energy source \tRequires more space \tNot available in all areas \tHarder to switch to Gas hot water heaters are optimal for businesses such as hotels, apartment complexes, gyms, and any other building with appliances that require a lot of water that warms quickly. Remember to research whether or not there’s any natural gas near you before setting your sights on a gas water heater. Electric Water Heater Pros \tLower installation cost \tLower safety risk \tThe more efficient energy source \tRequires less space \tAvailable in more areas \tEasier to switch to Cons \tHigher operating cost (which means a higher electricity bill) \tWon’t work during a power outage \tDoesn’t heat water as fast \tMore regular maintenance required \tUses more energy overall Electric hot water heaters are optimal for office buildings, retail stores, warehouses, and any building that doesn’t use as much hot water simultaneously. Electricity is available almost everywhere, so it’s also a more accessible energy source. We hope you found thig post helpful and be sure to check out some of our other energy efficiency tips for your small business!