4 MIN. READ
Did you know that heating water is the second-largest energy expenditure in your home? And did you know that an electric water heater can significantly impact your environmental footprint and utility bills?
Using electricity to heat water saves money and is a critical component of whole-home electrification. Conventional storage electric water heaters are much more energy-efficient than gas units. And new technology has led to new and more efficient models, including solar, tankless, and heat pump hot water heaters.
Electric water heaters are gaining popularity, and it is easy to see why. In addition to being more efficient than gas, they are less expensive to purchase and install. And, perhaps best of all, they create no greenhouse gases to pollute the air and are another step in electrifying your home.
The advantages of electric heaters over gas-fueled heaters are so evident that some states have amended new construction building codes to specify electric appliances of all types, including water heaters, and to ban the use of natural gas to power homes and appliances.
The design of a conventional storage electric water heater is deceptively simple. Water heaters consist primarily of a large water-filled cylinder equipped with a heating element. They use a heat-rising principle to deliver hot water into pipes at the top of the cylinder, directing the water to showers, faucets, or wherever it is needed.
A thermostat controls internal water temperature, maintaining it between 120 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the homeowner’s preference. Cold water enters the tank at the bottom and rises when heated to keep the system in equilibrium. The system is automated, largely silent, and reliable, with no moving parts.
Gas water heater designs share many elements but are more complex. Due to their more complicated structure, gas water heaters are typically more expensive and more prone to breakdowns than electric units.
Moving from a gas-fueled water heater to a cleaner, more efficient electric model requires only a simple upgrade. Few structural changes are needed to install the new water heater — just access to electricity.
While not recommended as a project for do-it-yourselfers, it is a quick and straightforward process for professionally certified installers. Unlike gas water heaters, there is no need to install a chimney, an exhaust system, or a gas line.
Electric units also cost less to purchase and install, making the transition from gas to electric even easier. One additional advantage of electric units is that they tend to be more durable and last longer.
Electric heaters are much more efficient than gas and have an energy factor (EF) of 0.75 to 0.95 vs. 0.50 to 0.70 for gas-fueled units. EF measures the amount of water heated per unit of fuel consumed. It is measured by tracking and analyzing three key efficiency metrics:
And since electric units do not require venting, no energy is wasted, resulting in lower operating costs.
Electric appliances, including water heaters, are inherently safer than natural gas-fueled models. For one, there are no gas lines that can break or leak, creating a fire or explosion hazard. There is also no risk of harmful carbon monoxide emissions.
As electrification technology has developed, multiple water heating options have become available, and each of these units has particular advantages over older, more conventional designs. These new electric models include solar water heaters, tankless units, and more:
Replacing a gas-fueled water heater with an electric one is often just the start of your electrification journey. Whole-home electrification can integrate electric appliances, heat pumps, and solar panels, contributing to a more sustainable lifestyle and a greener future. As a pioneer in electrification, Qmerit has been helping homeowners make the journey for over 20 years.
For more insight on ways to save money and reduce your carbon footprint, check out our Current Trends Blog. There you will find useful information ranging from key components like smart panels to a complete guide to your renewable energy transition.
And you can count on Qmerit as your trusted guide on your whole-home electrification journey. You can reach us Contact Qmerit to learn more.