CenterPoint Energy

Home Water Heating Options
Home water heating options

Important to consider the performance, operating costs and the impact on the environment of the water heater you choose when you replace your aging water heater before it leaks or deciding on a water heater for your new home.

Types of water heaters

Natural gas water heaters

All natural gas water heaters offer the benefits of a compact design, quick recovery, an excellent safety record, low operating costs, high efficiency, and environmental friendliness. They are preferred by plumbers in their own homes, and are the standard for the vast majority of homes built in this area. Well over 90 percent of our Minnesota customers enjoy the benefits of a natural gas water heater in their homes, every day.

Atmospheric (gravity) vent storage tank

These are the standard gas water heaters that have been serving millions of homeowners for years. They use room air for combustion and exhaust.

Power-vent storage tank

These water heaters are the same as the atmospheric models but with a reengineered exhaust system. This unit offers all the benefits of natural gas, plus flexible installation.

Direct-vent storage tank

Direct-vent units use no room air at all. Direct-vent water heaters are particularly good for tight construction because they feature a sealed combustion chamber that uses outside air for combustion.

Power direct-vent storage tank

This model combines the features of power- and direct-vent models. It's perfect for homes with near airtight construction and offers flexible installation.

Indirect storage tank

For homes with radiant heating systems, this is an excellent option to consider. Simply put, this is a large "thermos bottle" connected to the home's boiler.

Natural gas tankless

Tankless water heaters are most useful when there is a continuous need for hot water and space is at a premium. These units require venting to remove the by products of combustion.


An electric water heater costs more to operate and takes two to three times longer to recover than a natural gas model. In this market, an electric water heater is largely powered by coal - Minnesota gets over 60 percent of its electricity from coal.

Electric storage tank

These units utilize electric resistance heating element(s) in a storage tank. Their recovery time is generally two to three times longer than a same sized gas model.

Hybrid electric storage tank

These units combine an air-source heat pump with a traditional electric water heater. The heat pump extracts heat from the space around the water heater and pumps it into the storage tank.

Tankless electric

These units are designed for small volume, point of use applications. There have been numerous articles regarding consumer's experiences with tankless electric water heaters.


Solar water heaters can reduce the annual fuel cost of supplying hot water to your home. The solar water heater system pre-heats the water before it reaches the conventional water heater.

Key considerations 

Beware of the "orphaned" water heater

The problem
High-efficiency boilers and furnaces are direct-vented by way of PVC pipe, typically through the wall. A potentially dangerous situation is created when a water heater is "orphaned" meaning the home's water heater is not upgraded at the same time as the furnace or boiler, leaving the water heater to be the sole user of the metal B-vent.

Performance / recovery rate

A natural gas water heater's burner is sized to completely recover in about one hour, regardless of the tank size. Whether 40 gallons or 75, the unit will completely recover in about an hour.

Operating cost

Comparing gas and electric water heaters operating costs will show that there are substantial annual savings to be had by choosing a gas water heater. Using D.O.E. data and manufacturer's specs, an electric water heater will typically cost $350 - $425 per year to operate, while a comparable high efficiency natural gas water heater will cost around $200 - $250 per year.

Environmental impact

With less than half the carbon footprint of an electric unit, substantially less SO2, NOx and no mercury emissions, a natural gas water heater is significantly cleaner than an electric water heater. Learn more about the benefits of natural gas water heaters.