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Determining Whether a Gas or Electric Water Heater is Right for You

There are a number of issues that must be considered when deciding whether to purchase a gas or an electric water heater. The four key issues that we will address are recovery rates, pricing, life expectancy, and operating costs. The first chart, to the left, indicates which water heater, gas or electric, has the edge in each category.

Recovery Rate

The recovery rate indicates the amount of water that is heated in a given period of time and by how many degrees of temperature. The chart below shows how many gallons of incoming cold water are increased by 90 F in a one hour period for both gas and electric water heaters. As you will see, gas water heaters have the edge in this category by offering a much faster recovery rate.





Cost is a major factor when deciding whether to purchase a gas or electric water heater. There is no clear cut winner in this category for the reasons outlined below:

In general, electric water heaters are approximately $150 dollars less expensive  to purchase when comparing apples to apples. For example, a 40 US gallon gas water heater vs. a  50 US gallon electric water heater (these two water heaters are the most common size in their respective categories).

Unfortunately, due to a code change which took effect on December 1, 2018 we may not be able to install another standard gas water heater in your home without making considerable changes.

If your home at some point in the past had a mid or standard efficiency furnace which was replaced with a high efficiency model, your chimney may be oversized. Your home’s chimney may have been originally sized to accommodate both a furnace and water heater and now that the furnace vents out the sidewall, the chimney could be oversized and not meet code.

If you are faced with this scenario, we have put together three options for your consideration as replacements for your existing water heater. They are:

Option #1: Standard Gas Water Heater. In order to pass inspection, a smaller liner would have to be dropped inside your existing chimney to reduce its size and bring the chimney up to code.

Option #2: Electric Water Heater. In order to have an electric water heater installed, a onetime conversion fee must be factored in. This fee covers the cost to install a dedicated electrical wire and breaker for the new electric water heater and also to have the gas line and vent capped off from the old gas water heater.

*We offer two options for the actual conversion fee. They are:

  1. We will provide an electrician to install a dedicated breaker and run a wire to the new tank and we will also cap off the gas line and venting from the old tank. This option is an additional $699 (there may be an additional charge if we encounter issues such as a unique breaker or if a sub panel is required. If so, you will be advised before any work commences).
  2. The second option is to have the breaker and wire installed yourself. We will then cap off the gas line and venting from the old water heater. This option drops the conversion fee down to an additional $139.

In addition, if you are considering changing from a gas water heater to electric, some thought must also be given to the size of the water heater being installed. In Winnipeg, most older homes with an electric water heater have a 50 US gallon model. However, almost every new home being built today has an electric water heater and they are almost always either 65 or 80 US gallons. The larger capacity can offset the slower recovery times.

Option #3: Power Vented Gas Water Heater. In order to install a power vented gas water heater, a hole would have to be cored into the basement wall in order to vent this water heater to the outdoors with plastic piping. Contact us for more details.


Life Expectancy

In Winnipeg, the average life expectancy of either a gas water heater or an electric water heater is approximately 10 years. Therefore, neither gas nor electric holds an advantage in this category.


Operating Costs

Currently, gas water heaters cost substantially less to operate than electric water heaters. This information is based on an average family of 2.4 persons and is obtained from Manitoba Hydro's website, where you can look at this information in further detail on their operating cost comparison form. Therefore, a significant edge is given to gas water heaters where operating costs are concerned.

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