For those who are fans of hot showers, choosing a new water heater might actually be exciting. Whether you see the decision as fun or just a boring household task, the primary decision you have on your hands is a complicated one. Should you choose a gas or an electric water heater? That all depends on what your priorities are.

What Fuels Do You Have?

First things first, what kind of fuel could your water heater run on? Homeowners whose properties were never equipped with natural gas lines can’t use gas heaters. You could get your home hooked up, but this is typically a pretty expensive option.

Similarly, homeowners who have an off-grid or rural property are more likely to have access to gas than electricity. Similarly, you may be able to add electricity, but likely you’ll want to choose an appliance that works with the power source you have.

Comparative Energy Prices

Winner: Gas

Cost is a big factor in running a water heater, and your energy prices will usually be the biggest factor in your water heater’s monthly operating costs. When you can, it is best to choose the fuel source that is the cheapest for you. In most areas of California, gas is cheaper than electricity, and it is more reliable too. Typically, you’ll have smaller costs in the long run if you choose gas, but you should look into what your utility companies are charging to ensure that is true for you.

Up-Front Costs

Winner: Electric

The upfront costs of your water heater may be a big consideration for you as well. Typically, electric water heaters are cheaper than gas options of the same size. Although, if the water heater you want is out of your price range, then you may be able to use financing options to afford it. Depending on the terms you can get, you’ll need to weigh the up-front costs with the long-term costs of running the heater.

Comparative Energy Efficiency

Winner: Electric

While it is true that your average gas water heater is more efficient than the electric options, the most efficient heaters on the market are electric. If you want the absolute best in efficiency to keep your utility costs low, then you want electric.

Tank Size and First Hour Ratings

Winner: Gas

The tank size and first-hour rating are quality of life features that you should be aware of when making your choice. The larger the tank and the better its first-hour rating, the more hot water it can deliver and the faster it can recover to deliver that water again.

Overall Winner: Gas Water Heaters

It may sound odd to pronounce gas water heaters the clear winner when there are so many virtues to electric heaters. However, when it comes to the factors that matter most for the average homeowner, the monthly costs of the heater and how much hot water it produces, gas is the clear winner. Most homeowners will prefer gas water heaters for these reasons.