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Should I Get a Gas or Electric Water Heater?

Are you finally replacing your old underperforming water heater? Or are you purchasing a unit for a new home? Either way, making sure your water is hot, available and abundant is an important priority. A hot water heater can last over a decade, so we know you want to invest in the right one for your home. 

Before you pick the brand and size of your system, you must decide between a gas or an electric water heater. But which one is best for you? There are many factors that go into choosing the right water heater for your home, and Gotelli Plumbing has all the information you need to make an educated decision. Here are the most important things to consider when comparing gas and electric water heaters. 


It’s important to know what kind of setup you already have in your home to accommodate a water heater. The infrastructure in place can be a deciding factor before you even start comparing! 

Many houses have access to both electric and gas hookups, but if your home only has electric hookups, your decision is made! Using an electric water heater is the best option. For some rural areas, where natural gas is not available, propane can be used to power a gas water heater with the addition of a conversion kit. 


We know that your budget is a big part of your decision-making process. While both systems can mean a big investment, there are options you can choose to make sure you follow your budget.

Initial Cost

Just based on initial cost, electric systems are usually cheaper, but this is just the initial cost of the system and the labor to install it. Gas water heaters are more energy efficient and save money on monthly utility bills. 

Operational Cost

It’s also worth knowing the operational costs of both systems. Even though gas water heaters are more expensive upfront, the cost of using and powering them in the long term is far more cost-effective than electric systems. In many areas, the cost of natural gas is far cheaper than that of electricity. This principle is mirrored in the monthly cost of operating a gas versus electric system. 

Heating Capacity

Every home has different needs and expectations from its water heater. To understand if your water heater can function on the level you need it to, there are a couple of terms that are vital to understand:

  • Recovery Rates – Recovery rates indicate the amount of water a unit can heat an additional 90 degrees Fahrenheit per hour – shown in gallons per hour (GPH). For instance, if a water heater’s recovery rate is 55GPH, this means that system can heat 55 gallons of water to 90 degrees in one hour after the tank has been completely drained.
  • First-Hour Delivery Rating (FHR) – FHR tells you how much hot water the unit can deliver in the first hour after the tank is heated, starting with a full tank. For example, a tank with a FHR of 50 gallons can deliver 50 gallons of hot water in the first hour of use. 

With these terms in mind, gas water heaters tend to produce heat quicker due to their combustion method. Because of this, their recovery rates and FHRs tend to be much higher than electric water heaters. For an average 40-50 gallon gas water heater, a good recovery rate is anything above 40 gallons per hour. A similarly sized electric water heater has a good recovery rate at only 20 gallons per hour.

This can be an important factor if you have a large family. Slower recovery rates mean more time between baths and showers to allow the water heater to heat new water. Of course, a larger tank will hold more water to begin with, but the reheating speed will remain slow. 


Possibly one of the most important factors is the efficiency of your new system. While neither gas nor electric are vastly more efficient than the other, both industries have made specific kinds of water heaters that are highly efficient. 

Efficient Gas Water Heaters

The most efficient gas-powered water heater is called a condensing water heater. These units capture and reuse wasted energy in order to increase efficiency. Standard gas water heaters send hot water vapor through a duct and vent it out of the house. Condensing units collect and recycle the water vapor.

Efficient Electric Water Heaters

The top of the line in electric water heaters as far as efficiency goes is called a heat pump water heater. This unit sucks heat in from the air – a great benefit to those in warmer climates. 

Another option is a hybrid heat pump water heater. This system allows for customizable modes for different situations to maximize efficiency. For example, most hybrid water heaters have a vacation mode which reduces operating costs when no one is at home. You could save up to 80% on hot water costs by choosing this kind of system. 

We know the choice between gas and electric water heaters can seem overwhelming. Gotelli Plumbing is always eager to answer any questions you have and help you choose the right fit for your home. We’re the most trustworthy team to take on your water heater installation. Contact us today!

Why Choose Gotelli Plumbing?

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Customer Focused
Our goal is to give every customer the best plumbing service available. Our technicians are professional and well-trained to make sure we achieve that goal.
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Family-Owned and Operated
We're a family-run business living and working in Marin County, so treating our neighbors like family is the center of our values.
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Reliable Service
Our technicians are background checked and trained in the latest plumbing advancements to ensure you get the service your home or business deserves.

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Tom provided excellent service. He is obviously experienced- and quickly solved the problem. Our gas had to be shut off, so we were without our stove to cook, furnace to heat and hot water. Our home is happy again!

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Tom has worked on numerous plumbing issues in our home over the years. He’s always on time, polite, hard working and an excellent plumber overall. I strongly recommend Tom R. for any plumbing jobs you need! We’ll continue to use Tom for all our future plumbing problems. Thanks!

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I had a great experience with Gotelli Plumbing when we needed a leak in a pipe fixed. Tom was professional and friendly. He also got the job done faster than original estimated, so the work was less expensive than I anticipated. I will use Gotelli Plumbing again in the future.

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Water heater died just in time for Thanksgiving company to arrive. Gotelli sent Joey out first thing this morning. Not only was Joey a super nice guy, he fixed our heater quickly and for $450 less than a competitors bid. Will be going to these guys for all of our plumbing needs in the future!

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