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Does A Gas Water Heater Need Electricity

By August 31, 2021September 16th, 2021Home Maintenance
gas water heater

There are different types of water heaters that a homeowner can choose from. There are electric, solar, tankless, electric heat, and more. Does a gas water heater need electricity? The answer is yes and no. This is because only the pilot light runs on electricity and the rest of the water heater runs on gas. Let’s take a look at this type of water heater.

What Is A Gas Water Heater

Your gas water heater is one of the most efficient appliances on the market. It heats the water in a storage tank and is cheaper than electricity. If you don’t mind paying a little extra up-front, then this appliance will reward you with cheaper monthly electric bills.

Gas water heaters utilize a continuously running pilot light and should work in a power outage. Electric is hooked up to the gas water heater in order to create the spark for the pilot light to activate. However, once the pilot light is lit, it will continue to burn. So, electricity is not necessarily needed for the gas water heater to function properly.

Pilot light on a gas water heater.

What Is A Pilot Light

The pilot light is what needs to be lit in order to heat your water. It’s very easy and safe. Turn on your gas and use an electric lighter to light the pilot. This heat source will allow your water to be heated the entire time. You will never have to wait for warm or hot water again.

Do you have a furnace? A furnace also has a pilot light and sometimes it will go out. It may need to be reset or the furnace may be trying to leak natural gas or propane into the home.

Cost of a Gas Water Heater

If you are looking to go the gas water heater route, you are looking at an installation cost of around $1,000 to $3,000. After that, your costs will be the amount of gas you use each month. You are looking at around $36.50 a month for the gas water heater. In comparison, an electric gas water heater will run you around $46.50 a month and an installation of between $700 to $1,000.

Long Term Cost Of Gas Water Heater

The best part about having a gas water heater is that you will save money over time. The cost of electricity vs. the cost of propane or natural gas is substantially different. As you saw in the paragraph before, the cost differential could be as much as $10-$12 in favor of a gas water heater. So, although you are paying more for the unit upfront, the long-term cost savings will be amazing.

If you wanted to see how the electricity component is important to the gas water heater, take a look at the video below. We will see how to light the pilot light on a gas water heater. Let’s take a look.

Missing a sediment trap on the water heater.

Maintenance of a Gas Water Heater

Just like all appliances, a gas water heater needs maintenance. You want to be able to get the 8-12 years out of it and not replace it sooner. Flushing the water heater out once a year is a good idea to get the sediment off the bottom.

However, you also want to make sure that your gas water heater has a short, vertical pump on the front that keeps the sediment from going into the appliance. Is your gas water heater missing the gas sediment trap? If it is, not to worry. You can have one added.

Here are some maintenance tips:

  1. Flush the hot water heater
  2. Whether you have gas or electric, adjust the temperature and reset
  3. Turn your gas water heater off and back on
  4. When you are traveling, set the water heater to vacation mode
  5. Tighten the drain valve if you see water leaking out
  6. Check the temperature release valve, also known as T&P or TPR
  7.  Set thermostat to 120 degrees F.

Looking for more tips? Check these out.

Anode rod can go bad and needs to be changed out in a water heater.

Anode Rod

Keeping an eye on the anode rod is important. It is inside the tank and keeps the middle lining from rusting and changing it out every few years is important. In the picture above, the anode rod is corroded and needs replacing.

Other Maintenance Ideas

While you are busy reading up on how to light your pilot light for the gas water heater, you should consider learning how to light the pilot light on your gas range. It’s always good to check all of your gas appliances at the same time.

When Should I Call A Professional

Any time you are looking to replace or install a new gas water heater, you will want to call a licensed professional. Due to the need for welding and cutting of copper pipes as well as the installation of the gas tanks, you will need to reach out to a licensed professional.


Lighting the pilot light on any gas appliance can be a little nerve-racking. However, it is important to know that it is easier than you think. If you are unable to light the pilot on your gas water heater after a few attempts, you should turn the gas off and call a professional. Alpha Building Inspectors can check your gas water heater during a home inspection in the Merrimack, New Hampshire area.