Replacing a Water Heater: Is Buying or Renting Right For You?

When shopping for a new water heater, consider all your options. Not only are energy source, efficiency and type of water heater important, but also consider whether buying outright or renting a water heater works better for you. Both have their benefits, and which choice you make will depend on several factors.



Water heaters, unfortunately, are much more expensive than your everyday propane, electric and ceramic space heaters so it’s important to budget when purchasing a water heater. Budgeting for water heater purchase or rental will depend largely upon whether you prefer a large, upfront payment or small installments over time. In the long run, purchasing a water heater will likely be less expensive, but requires an investment of hundreds of dollars in one lump sum.

Rental fees for water heaters are relatively low (starting around twelve dollars per month), but are a recurring expense that adds up over time. It is likely the cost of a new water heater will be spent after just a year or two of renting, and unlikely a newly purchased water heater will need replacing within this time frame.

Warranty and Maintenance

Your decision to purchase or rent a water heater will depend also upon how much maintenance and repair you want to be responsible for. Water heaters have a relatively long life as appliances go and do not require a lot of maintenance and upkeep. However, when problems with a purchased water heater do arise, replacement or repairs can be costly and will be solely your responsibility after the warranty period of a new water heater ends.

In a rental situation, repair or replacement costs are the responsibility of the company that owns the water heater, included in your contract and monthly payment.

Ease and Cost of Installation and Replacement

Rental companies handle replacement and repairs differently. Some companies will replace the water heater using their own employees without any cost to renters. Other companies work on a system of reimbursement for services or new water heater purchases paid first by the homeowner. Although ultimately there is no expense to the renter, there may be out of pocket expenses incurred until the rental company issues a reimbursement. You may also need to pay to have the old water heater removed and disposed of, to be reimbursed after receipts are submitted. Not only will you need to spend the money upfront, but the responsibility for booking technicians and shopping for a new water heater may be yours as well.

Before entering into a water heater rental contract, you will want to be clear on how repairs and replacements are paid for and arranged. Depending on the company and their policies, initial out-of-pocket expenses may not be any different than owning your water heater, and if your intention is to have a hassle-free repair experience, you may find out you are no better off with a rental company.

Type of Heater

Fewer options will be available if you choose to rent a water heater, and they will vary between companies. This will not be a problem if you are looking to rent something common like an electric water heater, but a gas or tankless water heater may not be available through a rental company; you will be limited to the rental company’s offerings.

Transferring a Rental Contract

If you are purchasing a home with a rented water heater, do not feel you have to remain with the rental company. The rental agreement is with the existing homeowner. When you purchase the home, the rental company will offer you a contract for the existing heater, or may offer to allow you to buy the heater already in the house at a reduced rate.

If you choose not to rent or purchase the rental company’s water heater, find out what happens to the discarded water heater before the house purchase closes. Often, water heater rental companies do not handle removal or disposal of water heaters, and you may be responsible; the company may or may not reimburse you for the cost of disposal of the old water heater, depending on if you ever held a contract with them.

The benefits of renting versus purchasing a water heater are unique to each situation. Handymen and do-it-yourselfers may opt to spend the money upfront and handle repairs as needed, while those with less knowledge may prefer to let an experienced, reputable rental company handle their water heating needs. In either case, homeowners will want to be clear on the what they can expect from a water heater rental company and be sure a rental agreement offers the right benefits for their situation.

For more indoor home heating options see our posts on the best Best Propane Heaters, Indoor Propane Heaters, Propane Wall HeatersIndoor Electric Heaters and Ceramic Space Heaters.

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