Does it Make Sense to Buy a Propane Water Heater?

When it comes to choosing a water heater for your home, the decision between a propane or electric model can have significant implications for your energy costs, environmental impact, and overall convenience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the key factors to consider when determining whether a propane water heater is the right choice for your household.

Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings

One of the primary advantages of a propane water heater is its superior energy efficiency compared to electric models. According to the Propane Energy and Research Council (PERC), a standard propane water heater with a tank performs 13-16% more efficiently than a standard electric water heater with a tank. This translates to substantial cost savings over time.

For example, in a 2,400-square-foot home, an electric water heater would cost the homeowner approximately $645 per year, while a propane heater would cost only $290 per year. This equates to an annual savings of around $355, a significant amount that can add up over the lifespan of the water heater.

Environmental Impact

does it make sense to buy a propane water heater

In addition to the financial benefits, propane water heaters also have a lower environmental impact compared to their electric counterparts. Propane water heaters produce 46% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than electric water heaters. Furthermore, a propane tankless water heater sends about 70% fewer emissions into the atmosphere.

This reduced carbon footprint is particularly important in regions where a significant portion of the electricity grid is powered by fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas. By choosing a propane water heater, you can contribute to a more sustainable future and reduce your household’s environmental impact.

Consistent Hot Water Supply

One of the common frustrations with electric water heaters is the inconsistent hot water supply. Users often experience a gradual cooling of the water during a shower or a delay in the water reaching the desired temperature when turning on a tap. Propane water heaters, on the other hand, provide a consistent level of heat, ensuring a reliable hot water supply whenever you need it.

This immediate and steady hot water delivery can be particularly beneficial in larger households or when multiple water-using appliances or fixtures are in use simultaneously. The consistent performance of a propane water heater can help eliminate the inconvenience and disruption caused by fluctuating hot water availability.

Technical Specifications and Recovery Efficiency

Propane water heaters typically have a higher recovery efficiency than electric heaters, meaning they can provide more hot water from a smaller tank with a shorter wait time for the water to reach the set temperature. This is due to the higher energy density of propane compared to electricity.

The operating cost of a propane water heater is also lower when using smaller-sized tanks, as less energy is required to maintain a large volume of hot water. This can be particularly advantageous for households with moderate hot water demands, as they can opt for a more compact and efficient propane water heater without sacrificing performance.

Upfront Cost Considerations

While the upfront cost of a propane water heater is generally higher than an electric model, the long-term savings and benefits often make it a worthwhile investment. The initial installation may be more expensive, but the substantial annual cost savings, lower carbon footprint, and more consistent hot water supply can justify the higher initial outlay for many homeowners.

It’s important to consider the total cost of ownership, including both the upfront and ongoing operating expenses, when evaluating the feasibility of a propane water heater for your home. In many cases, the long-term savings and environmental benefits can outweigh the higher initial investment.


In conclusion, when it comes to the decision of whether to buy a propane water heater, the evidence strongly suggests that it can be a wise investment for many homeowners. The superior energy efficiency, lower environmental impact, and consistent hot water supply provided by propane water heaters make them a compelling choice, especially when factoring in the long-term cost savings.

While the upfront cost may be higher, the substantial annual savings, coupled with the other benefits, can make a propane water heater a worthwhile investment that pays dividends over time. By carefully considering your household’s hot water needs and the local energy landscape, you can determine if a propane water heater is the right fit for your home.