Posted: January 19, 2023
The average water heater with a tank lasts on average 10 years, so if yours is already that age or older, it’s time to start looking for a replacement.
Don’t wait until your water heater fails to choose a new one. If you do, not only will you have to deal with a messy and costly cleanup, but you’ll also have to hurry up and make a selection for a new water heater. By beginning to plan replacing it now, you have a chance to do your research and feel good about your choice.
When you’re in the market for a new water heater, one vital thing to think about is how much it will impact your energy costs. You’ll save more money in the long run if you choose a propane water heater over an electric one!
You might not know this, but water heating makes up about 20% of your home’s energy costs. That puts it in second place, right after heating and cooling. But did you also know that making the right choice in a water heater can lead to some great savings?
These are some points to consider when you’re choosing between a propane and an electric water heater.
Energy factor. You can use the Energy Factor (EF) of a water heater to compare the energy efficiency of two different models. The higher the score, the more efficient it is. This metric provides significant insights into a unit’s overall operating cost when compared to other types of appliances.
The EF number is obtained from a test developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, which takes into account not only the heat loss within the heater and its plumbing but also how much heat it can send to the water in its tank. The Energy Factor of a propane water heater is often in the range of .5 to .65, whereas electric water heaters an Energy Factor of around .9.
The EF is a good metric to use when determining a heater’s operational cost, though it does not take into account the price of fuel or power. As such, while the Energy Factor can give you a general idea of the operating cost of your water heater, it is not enough to get an accurate estimate.
Recovery efficiency. The EF is a rating that determines how quickly a heater can heat water. Propane-powered models have, on average, quicker recovery efficiency than electric ones—meaning less hot water needs to be stored in order to maintain demand. As such, you may need a smaller tank for propane than you would with an electric model. A smaller size requires less energy overall to keep a large volume of water hot, resulting in lower operating expenses down the line.
The time it takes for a tank of water to heat back up is determined by the recovery efficiency. However, since propane has much higher recovery efficiency, you won’t have to wait as long in between showers. And if you use a propane tankless water heater, you’ll never have to wait because they provide an unlimited amount of hot water whenever you need it!
Fuel and energy costs. Even though electric water heaters are more efficient, propane water heaters cost less to operate because electricity is more expensive.
You can compare for yourself using the Department of Energy’s simple form that calculates operating costs for water heaters.