When Mdm. Phua installed a centralized gas heater in her bathroom after being made to believe that it was cheaper, she didn’t expect to be hit with added daily inconveniences.
“Once the hot water tap is turned on, we’ve to wait for the water to warm up. While waiting, we can’t (turn) off the tap as it’ll stop the heating process. So my water is left running,” she complains.
“Information on the pros and cons of the different types of heating systems would be helpful, especially on their utility consumption rates,” she adds.
Well, BEDS.sg took the time to weigh the merits and demerits of gas and electrical water heating systems! This is what we found:
Round 1: Cost
As the name states, the electrical heater taps on your home’s power supply, and contributes to the monthly electricity bills. The power tariff has recently been increased to 24.1 cents per KWh for the first quarter of 2011.
Gas heaters are battery operated and don’t rely on your home’s electrical system. Instead, they run on the building’s piped gas network, which produces energy that costs 17.99 cents per KWh.
That means gas units are cheaper than electricity units by 6.11 cents per KWh.
CityGas Singapore calculates the cost differences between using a typical electric storage heater and a gas water heater. It finds that, for an individual who showers twice a day, the cost of going electric would add up to about $19.23 per month.
Compare this to the $8.42 monthly running costs of a gas heater and you’re apparently looking at savings of about 56%!
Hence the gas heating system wins first round.
Round 2: Convenience
On the other hand, having an electrical heating system means that the water tank can be positioned at your own convenience. The electrical supply is easily directed to your water tank.
The gas heating system doesn’t require a tank to heat up your water. However, you’ll first need to call in the gas man to help set it up. He makes the final decision on the placement of your heater as he needs to pipe the heating system to your gas source.
This is something you should consider, especially when renovating your apartment.
Essentially, while an electrical heating system gives you the liberty to design your new toilet however you wish, you’ll find that you’re forced to lay out your bathroom around your gas heater.
Earlier, we didn’t include the added cost of water left running while waiting for the shower to heat up, as this water can be collected for other uses, like manually flushing the toilet or mopping the floor. Of course, hauling pails around is a rather tedious chore and you’d be collecting water that you wouldn’t have an immediate need for.
Either way, the electrical heating system wins this round, bringing our current score to a tie of one – all.
Round 3: Maintenance
As mentioned, gas heaters rely on batteries to kickstart the heating process. Thus, batteries must be changed bimonthly to ensure full performance of the heater.
Another concern regarding gas heaters is the constant worry of gas leaks. The gas heater has to be kept away from flammable objects and be placed in a ventilated area.
A point to note: if you’re getting a gas heater for your HDB flat or condominium, the gas heater has to be purchased from CityGas Singapore. Maintenance and products thus have to be enlisted only from CityGas.
Electric heaters, however, come in a range of brands and services and thus, depending on your home requirements or preferences, you have a large variety of electric heaters to choose from.
The electric heater wins by a mile in this round!
Round 4: Hot or not?
The ultimate question is: Which type of heater best provides hot water for your shower?
Generally, each heating system has its own pros and cons.
While the gas heating system provides you with a continuous flow of hot water, you will have to bathe in an initial flow of cold water while the heating coil in the gas heater starts up and warms up your water.
Also, the water has to be kept running for the heater to continue functioning.
You may save on power bills, but your water utility might increase, and by a whopping $18 per month to be exact! (based on the approximate 0.25m3 of water run per pre-shower heating)
While the electric heating system allows you to heat your water without running your tap, you’re limited to the capacity of water that’s heated in the water tank.
Depending on your water usage during shower, and whether you have two showers running at the same time, this might also limit your access to hot water.
The electric heater emerges the winner in BEDS.sg’s analysis of both heating systems.
Though it costs more on paper, the convenience and freedom which the electric heater bring you make it the better choice.
However, this isn’t a landslide victory. The gas heater, though a slight hassle in terms of maintenance and collecting water without any immediate use, is the cheaper alternative of the two.
You weigh the two choices based your preferences and the needs of your household. Good luck!