Should I Install a Propane or Electric Water Heater?

Comparing Energy Costs, Efficiency, and More!

water heater options new jerseyIf your home’s water heater is 10 years old or older, there’s a good chance that it’s on borrowed time. That’s because the typical lifespan of a conventional water heater with a tank is around ten to twelve years, even with proper maintenance along the way.

So, if this holds true in your household, it’s time to start thinking about replacing your water heater now—not putting it off until your water heater eventually gives out! In that case, not only will you have a messy and costly cleanup to deal with, but you’ll be forced to select a new water heater in a frenzy, potentially overlooking some of the key factors that come into the equation.

As you’re shopping around, one very important aspect to consider is how much your new water heater will cost you in terms of monthly energy costs. When you compare propane water heaters to electric water heaters on that basis, you’ll discover that propane wins hands-down.

Factors in Water Heating Costs

Did you know that water heating accounts for 20% of your home’s energy costs, second only to central heating and cooling? So, making the right choice in a water heater can add up to some significant savings.

Here are some things to consider when comparing propane and electric water heaters:

The Energy factor.

The Energy Factor of a water heater is a statistic that you can use to compare the energy efficiency of two water heaters. The higher the Energy Factor score, the more energy-efficient the water heater is. The energy factor of a water heater offers significant insights into the unit’s overall operating cost when compared to other types of appliances.

The Energy Factor number is obtained from a test developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and considers heat loss within the heater and its plumbing, and the heater’s capacity to send heat 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.

However, the Energy Factor does not consider the cost of fuel or power. So, while the Energy Factor is a good beginning in determining a heater’s operational cost, it is not enough to accurately determine a water heater’s operating costs.

Recovery efficiency.

The Energy Factor is a measure of the heater’s ability to heat water quickly. Propane water heaters have typically superior recovery efficiency than electric ones. Thus, a propane water heater needs to store less hot water to keep up with demand, which means that you need a smaller tank than you would with an electric water heater.

A smaller tank requires less energy to keep a large volume of water hot, resulting in lower operating expenses.

Recovery efficiency also affects how long it takes for a tank of water to re-heat. So, because propane has superior recovery efficiency, you won’t have to wait as long after someone takes a shower before you can take your own.

As an alternative option, propane tankless water heaters eliminate the wait entirely by producing endless hot water, on-demand, every time.

Fuel and energy costs.

Despite the electric water heater’s greater Energy Factor, the cost of operating a propane water heater is typically better than that of an electric water heater due to the inherently higher price of electricity.

Want to make some calculations of your own? The Department of Energy has an easy-to-use form for calculating the operating costs of water heaters so you can compare!

If you’re looking to install a propane water heater in your home, you can count on Blue Flame for local, reliable propane deliveries! Become a customer today and let us show you the difference we can make for your New Jersey or Pennsylvania residence.