Should I buy or rent a water heater?

October 1, 2014

Whether you should rent or buy a water heater depends on many factors, including your living situation and budget. Here's how to figure out what the best option is for you.

Should I buy or rent a water heater?

It’s a geographic thing

Whether you rent or buy can vary from province to province. One survey showed that Albertans tend to buy their water heaters, while Ontario residents prefer to rent.

The pros and cons of renting your water heater

There are plenty of up-front benefits of renting:


  • Purchasing a new water heater can cost close to $1,000 plus additional installation charges.
  • A cash-strapped, new home buyer may find renting a water heater for less than $30 a month a significant saving.
  • You don’t have to worry about paying for repairs if you rent. You can even get service the day you call for repairs.
  • When your financial situation improves, you can take advantage of a rent-to-own option and buy your rented water heater at a lower price than that of a new water heater.

There are also disadvantages:


  • You would be paying for an older water heater and taking on the charges of maintaining and repairing it as well. You may actually save more money in the long-term by buying a newer, more energy-efficient model.
  • The longer you rent a water heater, the more costly it gets. You could end up gradually paying more than you would have if you had purchased a water heater instead.
  • Returning a rented water heater or getting out of a rental contract early can be tricky and costly. Make sure you read and understand your rental contract.

The pros and cons of buying your water heater


  • If you look at the numbers, buying a water heater at an upfront cost of around $1,500 (including installation) will be more cost-effective long-term. This is a great option if you plan to live in your house for years, or even decades.
  • Many warranties currently cover up to 15 years and some give lifetime warranties.


  • After that warranty expires, those repair costs become yours.
  • Replacement parts for a water heater can easily cost several hundreds of dollars.
  • You will also need it to be checked out once every five years.
  • Like most appliances in your house, hot water heaters have a finite lifespan and will need repairs every so often.

What’s best for you?

Consider how long you will remain in your home.

  • If your plan is to move in a few years, as your family grows or as your career gains momentum, the initial savings of renting a water heater will be money in the bank that you can use toward a new home.
  • There are lots of rental companies in the market and you should take the time to compare rental plans and read the contracts to make sure you get the best deal.

If you are looking for a water heater that delivers long-term savings in ownership costs and energy bills, then shop around for the best price on a new, energy-efficient water heater.

  • Talk to an experienced plumber to assess your water usage. That may help you decide whether a tankless water heater or a more traditional water heater is best for you.
  • Whatever you decide, there are plenty of businesses that can provide you with either option.
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