Average Cost of a Gas Water heater
Around 60% of homes in the United States have gas water heaters. A gas water heater draws in cold water, where it is heated by ignited gas. In a tank-based system, this warm water is stored in a tank, whereas a tankless system provides the warm water straight to the point of use. There are several costs involved in a gas water heater.
The initial purchase price
The cost of installation
The running costs
The cost of repair and replacement
This guide will walk you through each of these costs and talk about how you can save money at each stage of the process. Of course, in some cases, spending the money in the short term is the savvier option, since it prevents expense in the long term. This guide is designed to help you make the smart financial decision for you and your family.
THE OVERALL COST
The average cost of a gas heater is around $500 for a 50-gallon tank. Generally, you will pay somewhere in the range of $250 and $1,500 depending on the size and type of heater you buy.
One of the biggest determinants of the cost of a gas water heater is what type of model you buy. There are three main types of gas water heaters you can buy – which one is best for you is a matter of your family size, the location and climate you live in, and your budget.
A standard gas water heater is one that draws in cold water and then heats it using gas that is ignited; the hot water is then stored in a tank, where it is ready for you to use. The size of the tank greatly affects the price (for a more detailed breakdown, see the table below). In advance of buying a tank, you will need to research your family’s specific needs.
Generally, for a standard 50-gallon tank, you will pay somewhere between $400 and $800. Most families choose a tank of between 40 and 50 gallons, resulting in a price of around $550.
A high-efficiency tank is one that comes with an Energy Star certification, designating it as wasting very little electricity. These tend to cost between $900 and $1,600. As a result of their high efficiency, they cost less to run, because less of the energy they use is spent on heating the air around the tank.
Some use a heat pump system, meaning they actually take warm air from around the tank and use that to heat the water.
Tankless water heaters are also known as point-of-use or on-demand heaters. They consist of a heating element located near the desired usage point of the water. When you turn on the tap or the shower, a tankless system will heat the water you require rather than having water stored in a tank.
This makes this type of system extremely energy efficient. They usually run at around 95% efficiency, compared with 60% efficiency for typical gas tanks. For a deeper dive into tankless heater costs, visit our page on the average cost of tankless water heaters.
A gas tankless system will cost between $800 and $2,000, depending on the gallons per minute (GPM) you require. A higher GPM means that you will be able to use more devices at once.
KEY COSTS TO CONSIDER
The size of the tank you need will also impact upon the gas. Below is an outline of how much you can expect to pay based on the gallon size of your tank (the range includes pricing for both gas and electric tanks). To help with calculations, a 50-gallon gas heated tank can refill with hot water in an hour.
Therefore, if you intend to use less than 50 gallons of water per hour and you buy a 50-gallon tank, you should never run out of hot water.
|30||$270 - $900|
|40||$320 - $1,600|
|50||$400 - $2,200|
|75||$900 - $3,000|
|80||$1,000 - $3,000|
When it comes to installing a gas water heater, you’re better paying a professional than doing it yourself. Because of the dangers of working with gas, both in terms of the gas itself and the mixture of gas and open flames, it’s not safe for an amateur to undertake this sort of work. The cost of installing a gas heater is between $1,000 and $3,000.
For a standard gas tank, you will pay on average $1,136. For a tankless gas system, you will pay around $2,183. Both of these are fairly complex tasks and should take a whole day for a contractor to complete.
Plumbers generally charge somewhere between $45 and $150 per hour; many also have a minimum call-out fee of $75-$250. If you hire a plumber to install a gas water heater for you, it’s sometimes better to arrange a project fee than an hourly rate. That way you know in advance exactly what you will be paying.
When you install a new heater, you will be required to get a permit to demonstrate that it is up to the required safety level. The cost of this permit will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, although it will be somewhere between $50 and $500. You can do this yourself (check your local codes for more information), or you can have the contractor take care of it, which may result in extra costs.
A typical gas storage element will run at 60% efficiency, meaning that every dollar you spend on heating provides 60 cents’ worth of energy. With tankless heaters, this improves to 90%.
A conventional gas storage element will cost $5,394 over the course of 13 years. This represents a cost difference of around $100 per month versus an electric heat pump storage element.
A gas heater will usually last 10 to 12 years before it needs to be replaced. You should factor this into your calculations when you are deciding on repairs.
For example, if your gas heater needs $500 worth of repairs and it is 8 years old, it’s likely that you will only get 2-4 years of life out of your heater anyway, and it may be worth buying a new heater at this stage.
REPAIR AND REPLACEMENT
If you need to repair your gas heater, it’s likely you’ll need to call in a professional. You can expect to pay somewhere in the region of $150 to $500. This excludes the cost of parts. Below are some of the most common faults in a gas water heater. For more information on the costs of water heater repairs, see our water heater repair and replacement costs page.
The pilot light serves as the ignition for the gas heater. If there is a fault with the pilot light then the heater will not light and the water will not heat. This should be the first thing you check when there is a fault with your heater – if the pilot light is out you can light it yourself for free.
The thermocouple is the safety device that cuts the gas if the pilot light fails to ignite. In effect, it prevents gas from leaking into your home. Sometimes, a fault in the thermocouple will shut off the gas, which will extinguish the pilot light. In this case, relighting the pilot light won’t solve the problem.
The valve is what controls the level of gas flow. Problems with a gas valve can be dangerous because it means that gas is leaking into your home. If you suspect there is a problem with the valve, you will need to hire a contractor because of the safety implications.
A thermostat is what regulates the temperature of the water. When the water reaches the required temperature, it shuts off the heat; when the water drops below the temperature you desire, it heats it up again.
Ultimately, the goal with a water heater purchase is to buy something that you don’t have to worry about or think about.
A good water heater will last you a decade, ideally without the need for repair and without high running costs.