Electric vs gas water heating

Electric Water Heating vs Gas Water Heating

If you’re renovating your home, replacing your hot water heating system, or considering purchasing a new property. You may be wondering what the best form of hot water heating is. The decision of which system is best usually centres around cost. How much a hot water heating system costs to install, and how much it costs to run.

This article aims to help with that decision-making process by looking at the main forms of water heating – electric vs gas. There are a few other (not as common) ways to heat the water for your home (heat pump, solar, wet back). If you’d like more information on these, feel free to get in touch with us with any questions you may have.

Electric Hot Water Heating

The two main sources of fuel or power to heat your water are electricity and gas.

If you’re using electricity to heat the water for your property, then you will most likely have an electric hot water cylinder. (You may be using a heat pump water heater, but we’re focussing on hot water cylinders NZ here).

An electric hot water cylinder works by heating and storing water at a constant temperature in the cylinder. Available for use when you turn the hot water tap or shower on. Electricity heats the elements inside the cylinder, which heat the water.

In New Zealand, water stored in a hot water cylinder NZ must be kept at a minimum of 60 degrees Celsius to prevent the risk of harmful Legionella bacteria growing in the cylinder or parts. That same water, however, must not be delivered to basins, baths, showers, bidets at a temperature greater than 55°C to prevent scalding or burning. To achieve this, an electric hot water cylinder has a tempering valve. An electric water heater will have either a layer of insulation around it (if it’s an older model). Or an inner and outer cylinder – again, because the water in the cylinder is very hot.

The electric hot water cylinder is often kept in a storage cupboard or a space under the stairs. It’s often the closet or cupboard where linen and towels are stored, because it’s a warm, dry space in the house. (How many of us remember our parents or grandparents putting things in the cylinder cupboard to dry?)

At Cylinder Direct, we provide and install a comprehensive range of Rheem and Rinnai electric hot water cylinders, in sizes from XX L to 300 L. If you’re not sure if your hot water cylinder needs replacing. Have a read of our article How long should an electric hot water system last?

Gas Hot Water Heating

If you choose to use gas to heat your water, then the options are:

  1. gas hot water cylinder
  2. gas continuous flow / califont

A gas hot water cylinder looks and functions in a similar way to an electric hot water cylinder, but gas is used to heat the water stored in the cylinder. The components, therefore, are slightly different. This can be mains gas or natural gas; or it can be bottled LPG (liquefied petroleum gas).

Again, the water must be stored above 60°C to prevent the growth of bacteria. And you’re limited to the amount of hot water in the cylinder. (Before you need to wait for more water to heat up).

Please note, a gas hot water cylinder NZ needs to be installed, replaced or repaired by a licensed gas fitter. Like the team at Cylinder Direct (not all plumbers are licensed to do this kind of work).

Gas hot water cylinders do heat up faster than electric ones, and they have a quicker heat recovery time than a comparable electric hot water cylinder.

Which is cheaper – an electric or gas hot water heater?

When we look at the costs of using electricity vs gas to heat water, we look at both the set-up costs and the running costs.

Electric and gas hot water cylinders are similar in price. A new Rheem or Rinnai hot water cylinder will range between $2000-$3000. Which includes removal of your old cylinder, installation and connection of your new cylinder by the qualified plumbers and gasfitters at Cylinder Direct.

Installation of a new gas continuous hot water system, depending on the make and model, will be approximately $3000. Here we also recommend the trusted brands Rheem and Rinnai.

When it comes to running costs, a gas hot water cylinder will be slightly cheaper to run on average. If we compare two identical households with the same water use volume and habits.

A gas continuous hot water system is likely to be the most economical system for a household. This is because you’re not paying to keep water hot while it’s not in use. You only heat what you use, as you use it. You have more control over the water temperature coming into the household with a califont system. As you don’t need to store water at a high temperature to prevent bacteria growth. This is a great benefit if you’re trying to keep costs down by limiting excessively hot showers by tenants (or teenagers).

So, which should you use – an electric or gas hot water heater?

The decision of whether to stay with electric or switch over to gas water heating or continuous flow will depend on how much hot water you use. (How many people live in your household, how often you’re at the house/bach) and whether you’re trying to reduce your power bills.

If you’re replacing an old electric hot water heating system because it’s too old to repair (see some guidelines around that here). Then we usually recommend upgrading to gas if you want a more economical system. If you have more than two people in a household, or have average to high water use. Then we may recommend the upgrade to a gas continuous flow hot water system. The savings over the long term often outweigh the initial installation costs. We also find that clients tend to use less water with a gas system. As you’re not running water waiting for it to heat up. So it’s good for your wallet and good for the planet.

If you’re worried about the environmental impacts of replacing an old water cylinder, talk to the team at Cylinder Direct. We’ll take your old hot water cylinder NZ away for recycling and keep as much as we can out of landfill.

Cylinder Direct – your hot water heating specialists

If you have any other questions – or would like a quote on replacing or repairing your current hot water heating system. Get in touch with the knowledgeable team at Cylinder Direct. We’ll help you determine what’s best for your home and your budget. Have a look at our Hot Water Cylinders page – then give us a call.