When Hot Showers and Baths Are Life: A Guide to Water Heater Types

The average household uses about 64 gallons of hot water every day. Taking a shower consumes around 10 gallons. Do the math—the larger your family, the more hot water you need.

Water temperature isn’t only a matter of preference. It’s a matter of health. That steamy hot shower you enjoy after a long, grueling day makes you feel good, but it also prevents the development of dangerous bacteria in your water.

What does any of this have to do with our main topic —water heater types?

Most homeowners repair or replace at least one water heater during their lifetime. If you had to replace yours today, would you know the best type of water to buy? You will after reading our guide!

Types of Water Heating Systems

No matter what type of hot water system you’re currently using in your home, you do have options when it’s time to replace the water heater. If you’re designing a new build, you have even more!

There are four main types of residential hot water systems:

  • Electric
  • Natural Gas or Propane
  • Solar
  • Heat Pump

Most homes have either a gas or electric hot water system, although a growing number of people are relying on solar. Each hot water delivery system comes with pros and cons. Your budget, the design of your home, and your interest in energy efficiency will drive your decisions when choosing the best solution for your unique needs.

In a minute, we’ll dive into a discussion about the best type of water heater. First, we’d like to answer a question on the mind of every homeowner contemplating the purchase of a new water heater.

Is Water Heater Repair a Good DIY Project?

Our first inclination is to say, “why not?” After all, every homeowner should have at least a few DIY skills they can rely on in case of an emergency.

Whether you’re an advanced DIYer or a weekend warrior, there are water heater repairs you can take care of without calling in a professional plumber. Finding a good source for water heater replacement parts is your first step.

Even if you choose not to do the actual repair yourself, you may save some money by purchasing the parts and paying a professional to install them.

Repairs the average person can make without risking safety and sanity include:

  • Draining the tank to get rid of sediment
  • Heating element replacement on an electric water heater
  • Relighting the pilot light on a gas water heater
  • Cleaning the pilot light orifice

An advanced DIYer with the right tools can manage some of the more complex repairs. It depends on your comfort level, and of course, your skills.

Best Water Heater in the World

Every plumber has their favorite go-to water heater. Most homeowners rely on the word of professionals when choosing a new water heating system. Why not explore each system to make an educated decision, or at least have a spirited conversation with your plumber?

Here are the basic features of the most popular water heaters on the market today.


An electric water heater relies on an internal heating element and works like an electric tea kettle. Heating and storage happen inside the tank, and you get hot water on demand.

Electric water heating systems work well for families who use a moderate amount of water. They don’t take up much space either. One con to installing one is that you won’t have hot water during a power outage.


Large families love gas water heaters because they heat water fast and have a high recovery rate. Most gas water heaters heat twice as fast as their electric water heater counterparts. They cost less to operate but have a higher initial cost.


If you’re interested in an eco-friendly system, go solar! Solar water heaters have a higher upfront cost, but they’re economical to operate over the long term. They’re also an excellent choice if you’re concerned about energy efficiency.

You will need adequate roof space and, of course, plenty of natural sunlight. In some areas, homeowners can qualify for rebates if they install solar appliances.

Heat Pump

While heat pump water heaters use electricity, they don’t need much, making them attractive to people concerned about cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency. Large families love heat pumps because of their higher rates of efficiency and low running costs.

The Buzz About Energy Efficiency

They’re no longer just buzzwords. Eco-friendly and energy-efficient are words ingrained in our daily lives now—at least as much as we allow. Some people are passionate about reducing their carbon footprint, while others focus more on lowering their energy bills.

Regardless of which camp you’re in (and you may live in both), there are water heaters that use less energy and don’t burn fossil fuels. They create minimal impact on the environment because they don’t release greenhouse gasses and other toxins into the air.

Out of the options discussed in this article, the heat pump or solar water heater wins hands-down for the most environmentally-friendly solutions. They’re both also easier on the wallet than either the electric or gas water heater.

How Much Will a New Water Heater Cost?

Several factors go into estimating how much you’ll spend on installing a new water heater. First, the type of water heater you select, and then the labor cost for installation. In most cases, it’s the labor that creates the most significant variance.

The average cost for a new water heater runs from $811 to $1,566, with the national average at $1,176. If you need permits, electrical work, or additional carpentry, you’ll want to figure in those extra costs.

Usually, a natural gas or propane water heater will cost more than an electric appliance. The cost for a heat pump water heaters is right around the national average.

The initial outlay for a solar water heater will cost more than any other options covered here, with an average cost before rebates of about $9,000.

Which of the Water Heater Types Are Your Favorite?

Whether you base your preference on cost or environmental impact, you likely have a favorite when you’re ready to buy a new water heater. You can choose from any water heater types and still have that one thing critical to life—a steady, safe flow of hot water for bathing and cleaning.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, go ahead and check out the rest of our blog. We’ve put together a collection of posts that will interest anyone passionate about keeping a comfortable, safe home.

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