You have a variety of different options when it comes to choosing a new water heater. If your home has radiant heating, you’re often best opting for a passive water heater that works using the heat energy created by your boiler. For homes without radiant heating, you still have the option to choose between a tank-style water heater, a tankless unit or a heat pump water heater. If you’re unsure of which type of water heater is best, here are the main factors to consider so you can know the advantages and drawbacks of each type of unit.

Up-Front Cost

If you’re on a tighter budget, you’re usually best off going with either an electric or a gas tank water heater. Electric tank units are always the cheapest option, but a gas unit will usually only cost a few hundred dollars more at most. Tankless water heaters and heat pump water heaters tend to be quite a bit more expensive and will usually cost at least $1,000.

Energy Usage

While electric tank water heaters are the least expensive option, they also cost more to operate than any other type of unit. Electric units are slightly more energy efficient than gas tank units, but gas units are still usually cheaper to operate since natural gas tends to cost less than electricity.

Both gas and electric tankless units are much more energy efficient than tank units. Tankless units only turn on when hot water is needed, which helps prevent energy waste. Tank water heaters waste quite a bit of energy since they frequently need to heat even when you’re not using any hot water. Compared to a tank unit, opting for a tankless water heater should reduce your energy costs by anywhere from 10 to 40%.

Electric heat pump water heaters are usually the most energy-efficient option. However, most of these units are hybrid water heaters that also have an electric heating element. If the unit isn’t installed in a warmer area, the electric heating element will need to run frequently. In this case, a tankless unit would typically be the best and most energy-efficient option.

Expected Life Span

Tank water heaters generally have the shortest life span. An electric tank unit will typically last for around 12 years at the most while gas tank units usually only last for 10 years or so. The average life span for a heat pump water heater is usually slightly longer, and most of these units will last for around 15 years.

Tankless water heaters have by far the longest life span and will often last for 20 or even 30 years. This is definitely an important thing to consider since you could go through two tank or heat pump units in the same span of time as you would one tankless unit.

Maintenance and Repair Needs

This is another area where tankless units tend to outperform the other types. If you have a heat pump or a tank unit, you will need to have the water heater flushed at least once or twice a year. If you don’t have the unit flushed, the tank will start to fill will sediment. Sediment buildup often leads to the unit not heating as well and can also cause it to break down and need repairs or the tank to start leaking. Tankless water heaters should also be flushed occasionally to prevent issues with limescale, but they still require less maintenance overall and are also less likely to need repairs.


The issue with tank and heat pump water heaters is that they can only hold so much water, which means you can easily run out of hot water in a fairly short time. When this happens, you may need to wait for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours for a tank unit to reheat. Heat pump water heaters can sometimes take even longer depending on the ambient air temperature where the unit is located.

Tankless water heaters eliminate this issue and offer the convenience of having a basically endless supply of hot water. As long as you choose a unit that is large enough and has a high enough flow rate to meet all of your needs, you’ll never need to worry about not having hot water.

At the end of the day, the choice of which water heater is best is usually a matter of personal preference and what factors are most important to you. If you have any questions about the different options, Midwest Mechanical is always here to help. We install a wide range of different water heaters, and we also specialize in maintenance and repairs. Our team is also ready to take care of any of your other plumbing, heating or cooling needs. If you need to schedule any water heater service in the Wichita area, give us a call today.


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