Gas water heaters are less expensive to run than electric models and have a faster hot water recovery rate, which is attractive to large families. In the United States, gas powered water heaters are used in 60 percent of residences, making them the heater of choice as of 2015.
The hot water recovery rate is the most impressive feature. A gas water heater can heat 50 gallons of water in roughly an hour. An electric model takes several hours. Gas water heaters can run during a power outage. Unless hooked up to a backup generator, the electric one shuts down.
Electric water heaters use energy more efficiently, averaging a 90 percent efficiency rating. Gas water heaters using conventional gas earned a 60 percent rating, but since electricity is usually more expensive than natural gas, that efficiency is not reflected in home energy bills. Gas water heater efficiency can be improved by putting insulation around the water tank, which reduces heat loss.
Both gas and electric water heaters have a maximum lifespan of 12 to 13 years. As far as installation, if the home already has a natural gas line, the heater just needs to be installed by a technician. Installing a gas line is an additional expense. Electric water heaters plug into a 220 volt outlet. Some older homes only have 110 volt outlets, and the upgraded wiring would need to be installed.