Ultimate Guide on Gas Vs Electric Hot 
Water Heaters

Choosing the right hot water system for your home is a crucial decision affecting your daily comfort, energy bills, and environmental footprint. In the bustling cities of Sydney and Melbourne, where Dr Leak Plumbing proudly offers its expert services, homeowners often find themselves weighing the pros and cons of gas vs electric hot water systems. This guide aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of both options, helping you make an informed decision that suits your lifestyle and needs.

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Overview of the Debate: 
Gas vs Electric Hot 
Water Systems

By Chris Provenzale | August 2023

  • Founder / Director of Dr Leak Plumbing
  • License No. 368473C
  • Certificate IV in Plumbing & Services
  • Certificate III in Roof Plumbing
  • Kitchen, Bathroom & Laundry Renovation (KBLR) Licenced


The debate between gas and electric hot water systems is longstanding, with each type offering distinct benefits and drawbacks. The choice often boils down to energy efficiency, cost, environmental impact, and installation requirements. In Sydney and Melbourne, where energy costs and sustainability are significant considerations for many households, understanding these differences is key to selecting the right system.


 Gas Hot Water Systems


How Gas Hot Water Systems Work

Gas hot water systems operate by burning natural gas or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) to heat water. These systems can be storage-based, where heated water is stored in an insulated tank for later use, or continuous flow systems heat water on demand. In cities like Sydney and Melbourne, where natural gas and LPG are readily available, gas hot water systems are popular for their efficiency and reliability.


Advantages of Gas Hot Water Systems

  1. Cost-Effective Operation: Generally, gas hot water systems have lower running costs compared to electric systems, especially if connected to natural gas lines, making them an economical choice in the long run.

  2. Rapid Heating: Gas systems typically heat water faster than electric systems, ensuring a steady supply of hot water even during peak usage times.

  3. Less Dependency on Electricity: In areas prone to power outages, gas systems offer the advantage of continued operation, as they don't rely on electricity.

  4. Environmental Considerations: Natural gas is a cleaner-burning fuel compared to coal-generated electricity, often used in Australia, making gas systems a more environmentally friendly option.


Potential Drawbacks

  1. Higher Initial Costs: The installation of a gas hot water system, particularly if switching from an electric system, can be more expensive due to the need for gas lines and venting systems.

  2. Maintenance Requirements: Gas systems may require more frequent maintenance checks by professionals like Dr Leak Plumbing to ensure safety and efficiency.

  3. Availability of Gas: In some areas, particularly remote locations outside Sydney and Melbourne, connection to natural gas lines may not be feasible, necessitating the use of more expensive LPG.


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 Electric Hot Water Systems


How Electric Hot Water Systems Work

Electric hot water systems function by using an electric element to heat water stored in an insulated tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, the system draws from this reservoir of heated water. These systems are particularly common in areas of Sydney and Melbourne where access to natural gas may be limited or where homeowners prefer the simplicity of electric appliances.


Advantages of Electric Hot Water Systems

  1. Simplicity and Reliability: Electric systems are straightforward in design, making them reliable and easy to maintain. They are less complex than gas systems, with fewer components that could fail.

  2. Ease of Installation: Installing an electric hot water system is generally simpler and less costly than a gas system, especially in homes without existing gas connections. This makes them a popular choice for many households in Sydney and Melbourne.

  3. Flexibility in Placement: Electric systems do not require venting for combustion gases, offering more flexibility in where they can be installed within a property.

  4. Availability: Electricity is widely available, making electric hot water systems a viable option for most homes in urban areas like Sydney and Melbourne.


Potential Drawbacks

  1. Higher Running Costs: Electric hot water systems typically have higher running costs compared to gas, particularly in areas where electricity prices are high.

  2. Dependence on Electricity: In the event of a power outage, electric hot water systems will not function, which can be a significant inconvenience.

  3. Environmental Impact: If the electricity is sourced from non-renewable energy, electric hot water systems can have a higher carbon footprint compared to gas systems.



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Cost Comparison
 Gas vs Electric Hot Water


Initial Installation Costs

  • Electric Systems: Generally have lower initial installation costs due to simpler setup requirements. This is particularly advantageous for homes in Sydney and Melbourne that are not already equipped with gas infrastructure.

  • Gas Systems: Can be more expensive to install, especially if the property requires new gas lines or modifications for gas storage and venting.


Long-term Running Costs

  • Electric Systems: Tend to have higher ongoing running costs, as electricity rates are usually higher than gas. This can add up over time, making them less cost-effective in the long run.

  • Gas Systems: Typically offer lower running costs, especially for homes connected to natural gas. This can result in significant savings over the lifespan of the system.




Energy Efficiency of Gas vs Electric Systems

  • Gas Systems: Tend to be more energy-efficient than electric systems, especially if they are modern condensing models. They use less energy to heat the same amount of water compared to electric systems, which is a crucial factor for environmentally conscious homeowners in Sydney and Melbourne.

  • Electric Systems: While traditionally less efficient, advancements in technology, such as heat pump electric water heaters, have significantly improved their energy efficiency. Additionally, if the electricity is sourced from renewable energy, their environmental impact can be considerably reduced.


Carbon Footprint Considerations

  • Gas Systems: Although they burn fossil fuels, natural gas systems generally have a lower carbon footprint than traditional electric systems, especially in areas where electricity is primarily generated from coal or other non-renewable sources.

  • Electric Systems: The carbon footprint can vary greatly depending on the source of electricity. In regions with a high proportion of renewable energy in the grid, such as certain areas of Sydney and Melbourne, electric systems can be a more environmentally friendly option.


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Maintenance &  


Maintenance Requirements for Gas and Electric Systems

  • Gas Systems: Require regular maintenance to ensure safety and efficiency. This includes checks for gas leaks, venting system integrity, and burner condition. Professional servicing by a qualified technician, like those at Dr Leak Plumbing, is recommended.

  • Electric Systems: Generally have lower maintenance requirements. However, periodic checks of the heating element, thermostat, and tank condition are still necessary to ensure optimal performance.


Expected Lifespan and Durability

  • Gas Systems: Typically have a longer lifespan, often lasting up to 20 years with proper maintenance.

  • Electric Systems: Usually have a shorter lifespan compared to gas systems, averaging around 10-15 years. However, this can vary based on the model and maintenance.



Making the Right Choice 
for Your Home


Factors to Consider

  • Household Size and Hot Water Usage: Larger families or households with high hot water demand may find gas systems more suitable due to their rapid heating capability and cost-effectiveness for larger volumes of water.

  • Availability of Energy Sources: Consider the availability and cost of natural gas vs electricity in your area. In some parts of Sydney and Melbourne, one may be more accessible or cost-effective than the other.

  • Space and Installation Constraints: Electric systems offer more flexibility in installation location, which can be a deciding factor in homes with limited space.


How to Determine the Best Fit for Your Needs

  • Assess Your Hot Water Needs: Evaluate your household's daily hot water usage patterns to determine the capacity and type of system that would best meet your needs.

  • Consider Future Energy Costs and Environmental Goals: Factor in potential changes in energy costs and your personal or household goals for reducing environmental impact.

  • Consult with Professionals: Seek advice from experienced professionals like Dr Leak Plumbing, who can provide insights specific to Sydney and Melbourne's unique conditions and help you make an informed decision.


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Recap of Key Points

In this comprehensive guide, we've explored the key aspects of gas and electric hot water systems, considering their operational mechanisms, costs, environmental impacts, maintenance needs, and longevity. Both systems have their unique advantages and drawbacks, making the choice largely dependent on individual circumstances and preferences.


Final Thoughts on Making an Informed Decision

Choosing between a gas and electric hot water system is a significant decision for any homeowner, especially in areas like Sydney and Melbourne where energy efficiency and environmental sustainability are increasingly important. Consider your household's specific needs, the long-term costs, and the environmental impact of each option. Consulting with experienced professionals like Dr Leak Plumbing can provide valuable insights tailored to your situation, ensuring you make the most informed decision for your home.


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Frequently asked questions

What are the main differences in the operating costs of gas and electric hot water systems?

Gas hot water systems generally have lower operating costs due to the cheaper price of natural gas compared to electricity, especially over the long term.

Can the energy source affect the environmental impact of my hot water system?

Yes, the source of energy significantly affects the environmental impact. Gas systems typically have a lower carbon footprint than electric systems, unless the electricity is sourced from renewable energy.

How often do gas and electric hot water systems need maintenance?

Gas systems usually require more frequent maintenance for safety and efficiency, while electric systems have lower maintenance needs but should still be checked periodically.

What should I consider when choosing a hot water system for a large household?

For larger households, consider a system that can meet high hot water demand efficiently, such as a gas system or a high-capacity electric system.

Are there any government rebates or incentives for installing energy-efficient hot water systems in Sydney or Melbourne?

There may be government rebates or incentives available for installing energy-efficient systems. It's advisable to check current local government programs for any such offers.

How do I know if a gas or electric hot water system is more suitable for my home?

Consider factors like your household's hot water usage, energy costs in your area, environmental goals, and installation feasibility. Consulting with experts like Dr Leak Plumbing can also help in making this decision.

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