Comparing Heat Pumps vs. Gas Water Heaters for the Most Efficient Water Heating

When it comes to heating water for our homes, there are many different options available, including heat pumps and gas water heaters.

While both of these systems are designed to provide hot water, they operate in very different ways and offer varying levels of efficiency and reliability.

In this article, we’ll compare heat pumps vs. gas water heaters, taking a closer look at their advantages, disadvantages, and features to help you decide which option is best for your home.

Heat Pumps vs. Gas Water Heaters: Things to Consider

Why Choosing the Most Energy-Efficient Water Heater Is Important

Heating water accounts for a significant portion of your energy usage, making it crucial to choose the best water heating option.

According to the US Department of Energy, water heating accounts for 14-18% of your utility bills. So, it makes sense that you would want to choose an energy-efficient water heater and save on your bills.

Not only can an inefficient water heater drive up your utility bills, but it can also have a negative impact on the environment. By selecting the most energy-efficient option, you can reduce your carbon footprint and save money on your monthly bills. Additionally, an energy-efficient water heater may be eligible for rebates or other incentives, making it an even smarter choice for your home.

For example, gas water heaters (particularly tankless varieties) usually use less energy than electric water heaters, making them more energy-efficient and often Energy Star approved, which can lead to more savings.

Naturally, you might want to gravitate towards gas heaters for your home. However, before you purchase your next water heater, you should also consider heat pump water heaters or hybrids. These hybrids are often two to three times more efficient than even the most efficient gas or electric unit.

We understand how confusing it can get, which is why we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of each water heater type.

By the time you’re done reading our heat pumps vs. gas water heaters comparison, you should be able to make an informed decision.

5 Benefits of Heat Pump Water Heaters

Rheem Prestige heat pump (photo:

Heat pump water heaters are essentially hybrids as they use two methods to heat water. They extract heat from the air and utilize it to heat the water. This is highly energy-efficient, and in case of increased hot water demand, the hybrid heater can switch to electricity and work simultaneously.

As more people become aware of the benefits of heat pump water heaters, they are gaining popularity. For instance, the Voltex hybrid water heater boasts an energy factor (EF/UEF) rating of 3.24, making it ultra-efficient and Energy Star qualified. You can often find utility companies, sellers, or even the government offering discounts and tax breaks.

By switching from an electric heater to a heat pump water heater, you can make annual savings of up to 60%.

Here are the top five benefits of heat pumps:

  • Heat pumps are ultra-efficient, so they use less energy and save more money. They can save up to 60% on water heating costs compared to electric resistance heaters. The efficiency is measured by the Energy Factor (EF) or Uniform Energy Factor (UEF), which indicates how much hot water is produced per unit of fuel consumed.
  • They heat water quickly due their high recover rates.
  • They heat, cool, and dehumidify the area: Heat pump water heaters can also be used for space heating and cooling, as well as dehumidifying the air. This makes them a multi-functional appliance that can save on energy costs.
  • Modern hybrids use advanced electronics: Hybrid heat pump water heaters are equipped with advanced electronics that allow them to operate in different modes depending on the demand for hot water. They can operate in efficiency mode, hybrid mode, and electric mode, making them more versatile and efficient.
  • Easy installation and low maintenance. Heat pump water heaters are easy to install and require less maintenance compared to other water heating systems. Unlike gas heaters, they do not require any venting or gas lines, which simplifies installation and reduces costs. Additionally, because heat pump water heaters have fewer moving parts, they typically require less maintenance over their lifetime.

5 Benefits of Gas Water Heaters

AO Smith Vertex water heater (photo:

Gas water heaters offer several benefits that make them a popular choice for homeowners. Depending on where you live and the available features, a gas water heater could help you save on energy costs. Additionally, the fact that some models operate without electricity means that you won’t be left without hot water during a power outage.

Here are the top 5 benefits of gas water heaters:

  • Gas water heaters can heat water two times faster than electric heaters.
  • They come in various types, including tankless and condensing models, giving homeowners a wider range of options to choose from.
  • With the newer condensing and tankless models, there is potential for significant energy cost savings, making them a more economical option in the long run.
  • Gas water heaters also have a rapid recovery rate, meaning they can quickly reheat the water in the tank, providing a more comfortable experience for users.
  • Their performance and efficiency do not change with varying weather conditions, making them a more reliable choice for areas with inconsistent climate patterns.

Advantages of Choosing a Heat Pump Water Heater

Energy Efficiency

Heat pump water heaters are becoming increasingly popular due to their high energy efficiency. Unlike electric water heaters that directly heat water using electric resistance, heat pump water heaters move heat from a warmer body such as air, water, or ground, to heat the water. This process consumes significantly less electricity and energy, resulting in lower energy bills and reduced carbon footprint. 

According to the US Department of Energy, heat pump water heaters can save up to 60% on energy costs compared to electric water heaters. Moreover, some heat pump water heaters are Energy Star certified, which means they meet the energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and may qualify for rebates and incentives.

Overall, heat pump water heaters offer a more eco-friendly and cost-effective solution for heating water than traditional electric water heaters.

Dual Heating Source

Again, having two technologies working together or separately is a huge advantage. It means that you can easily engage or disengage heating elements to heat pump operation when the need arises. Actually, the Rheem Professional Prestige series hybrid water heaters (with 3.55 – 3.70 UEF) have four operating modes allowing users to choose one which fits the present situation the most:

  • Energy saver
  • High demand
  • Heat pump
  • Electric 

Space Cooling

Additionally, for those living in different temperate climates, a heat pump water heater can provide a dual advantage of heating water while also cooling the surrounding space, potentially resulting in energy savings on air conditioning costs.

Low Maintenance Costs

In addition, hybrids are known for their durability. For example, the Rheem Professional Prestige Series comes with a 10-year limited warranty, which means that in the long run, you will spend less on maintenance and repairs.

Disadvantages of Choosing a Heat Pump Water Heater

Initial Upfront Cost

Essentially, if you opt for a heat pump water heater, you should be prepared to pay more as they are significantly more expensive than traditional electric water heaters. Moreover, while they may be straightforward to install, it is not recommended to attempt installation yourself unless you have extensive plumbing experience.


There is also the issue of noise with hybrid water heaters, which is due to the running fan. However, this can be mitigated by installing the unit in a basement or garage, where the noise is less likely to be bothersome.

Advantages of Selecting a Gas Water Heater

Can Work Without Electricity

Some gas water heaters can work without electricity. This is because they rely on gas to ignite the burner and heat the water, instead of an electric heating element.

However, it’s important to note that not all gas water heaters can operate without electricity, and those that do may still require a small amount of power to operate certain components such as the thermostat or control panel.

High Recovery Rate

Now, this is very important if you have a large household or a heavy demand for hot water. Gas water heaters have a rapid recovery rate that ensures you are kept in hot water as long as it’s needed.

For example, the Vertex 100 can generate a flow of 4 gallons per minute and provide an efficiency of over 90%. That’s almost like a never-ending supply of hot water.

Energy Efficiency

Importantly, gas water heaters are energy efficient. Naturally, since they don’t heat using electricity, you save on energy costs. It’s a good idea to get one that qualifies for Energy Star and has ultra-low emissions.

Disadvantages of Selecting a Gas Water Heater

Expensive to Install

It’s a fact that though gas water heaters are cheap to run, they are not so affordable to install. This is because you will need to install a ventilation system and gas piping as well. So, you could do it yourself, but we wouldn’t advise that. You probably should get a professional plumber or gas technician (licensed) for this one.

Access to Gas

Naturally, if you live in an area where natural gas is piped to your home, this is not a problem. However, if natural gas is not available in your area and you still want to use a gas water heater, you will need to get a propane tank installed, pipes installed, and gas delivered regularly.

Safety Issues

Using gas as a fuel source for water heaters offers many advantages, such as energy efficiency and rapid water heating. However, safety should always be a top concern when using gas, especially if regular maintenance is not carried out. One of the primary risks associated with gas water heaters is the potential for gas leaks, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, fire, explosion, and health problems.

To mitigate the risks of gas leaks, it’s recommended to have your gas water heater inspected and maintained regularly by a licensed professional. This can include checking for gas leaks, inspecting the burner and combustion chamber, and ensuring that the flue and venting system are working correctly.

Related: Hybrid water heaters vs. tankless

Features to Look For

Energy Efficiency

First, it is important to consider the energy factor of the water heater you intend to purchase. Whether a heat pump water heater or a gas water heater, energy efficiency is crucial to your overall energy costs. To determine the energy efficiency of a water heater, you can use the Energy Factor – EF, or Universal Energy Factor – UEF. Generally, the higher the energy factor, the higher the energy efficiency.

Generally speaking, hybrid water heaters tend to have a higher energy factor than gas heaters.

Storage Capacity

Second, you need to determine just how much hot water is enough. The size of your household and the demand for hot water will also affect your choice.

A gas water heater like the Vertex 100 Power Direct Vent might be best for a constant flow of hot water. However, a heat pump water heater works just fine for smaller and large households. It depends on your needs.

Length of Warranty

Because the maintenance cost also figures in the long-term costs of a water heater, the warranty length is important. The Rheem Professional Prestige series hybrid water heaters, for instance, have a 10-year limited warranty, while the Vertex 100, on the other hand, has a 6-year limited warranty.

Heat Pumps vs. Gas Water Heaters: Which Is Better?

When it comes to choosing between heat pumps vs. gas water heaters, it ultimately depends on your individual needs and circumstances.

By considering factors such as energy efficiency, hot water demand, and long-term maintenance costs, you can make an informed decision about which type of water heater is best for you.

Heat pumps tend to be more energy-efficient than gas water heaters, making them a better choice for those looking to save on energy costs in the long run. However, gas water heaters may be better suited for households with higher hot water demands, such as large families.

Regardless of your choice, be sure to consult a water heater expert and carefully consider your circumstances before making a purchase.

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