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  • Writer's pictureGilad Ifrach

What is more economical, a hot water heater or an electric heater?

The choice between a hot water heater (typically a water heater for domestic use) and an electric heater (usually for space heating) depends on the specific application, usage patterns, and energy efficiency of the devices. Here’s a detailed comparison to help you determine which option might be more economical for your needs:

Hot Water Heater


  1. Energy Efficiency:

  • Modern water heaters, especially those with high energy efficiency ratings (such as tankless or heat pump water heaters), can be very efficient and economical in terms of energy usage.

  1. Usage:

  • Designed specifically for heating water for household use (showers, washing dishes, laundry).

  1. Lifespan:

  • Generally have a long lifespan, particularly if well-maintained.

  1. Cost-Effective:

  • When used efficiently and maintained properly, can be cost-effective over time.


  1. Initial Cost:

  • The initial cost of purchasing and installing a water heater can be high.

  1. Energy Source:

  • Depending on the energy source (electric, gas, solar), the operating costs can vary significantly.

  1. Standby Heat Loss:

  • Traditional tank water heaters can have standby heat loss, where heat escapes from the water stored in the tank.

Electric Heater


  1. Flexibility:

  • Ideal for space heating, providing localized heating where and when needed.

  1. Low Initial Cost:

  • Typically have a lower initial cost compared to hot water heaters.

  1. Easy Installation:

  • Generally easy to install and require minimal setup.

  1. No Standby Loss:

  • Heats only when needed, so there's no standby heat loss.


  1. Operating Cost:

  • Electric heaters can be expensive to operate, especially if used frequently or to heat large areas.

  1. Limited Use:

  • Primarily designed for space heating and not for heating water for household use.

  1. Efficiency:

  • While efficient for short-term or localized heating, they can be less economical for continuous or whole-house heating needs.

Comparative Analysis

For Heating Water (Domestic Use):

  • Hot Water Heater: More economical and efficient in the long run, especially if you choose an energy-efficient model. Suitable for continuous hot water supply for household activities.

For Space Heating:

  • Electric Heater: More economical for localized or occasional heating. Useful for heating small areas or supplementing central heating in specific rooms.

Factors to Consider:

  1. Usage Patterns:

  • For continuous hot water needs, a hot water heater is more suitable.

  • For occasional or supplemental heating, an electric heater may be more economical.

  1. Energy Costs:

  • Check the local cost of electricity and other potential energy sources (natural gas, propane, solar).

  1. Efficiency:

  • Consider the energy efficiency ratings of both hot water heaters and electric heaters. Look for Energy Star-rated appliances.

  1. Initial and Maintenance Costs:

  • Factor in both the initial purchase and installation costs, as well as ongoing maintenance expenses.


  • For Household Hot Water Needs: A hot water heater, especially a high-efficiency or tankless model, is generally more economical and practical.

  • For Space Heating Needs: An electric heater can be more economical for targeted, occasional heating but may become costly if used extensively for heating large areas.

By evaluating your specific needs, energy costs, and usage patterns, you can determine which option is more economical for your home.

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