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A question “buying or renting a water heater” is not equally present in North America, or even in all provinces of Canada. Renting as an option is so poorly represented in the market that consumers don’t even know it exists. And they never called the utility company to ask about the rental program or have been approached by the sales rep.
Meanwhile, in Ontario, when you are moving into a new house, it is not quite unusual to sign a water heater renting agreement, or take it over from the previous owner. It looks like homeowners prefer renting, without further analysis.
Over the last few years, however, things are changing. If you compare costs for renting vs. buying a new appliance, you may find that the second one is more economical. Water heater renting is starting to be called “fad”, let’s cite the mildest word.
At the same time, renting companies in Canada and United States are arguing that their offer is superior.
How to make a smart decision or, what are the advantages and disadvantages of buying vs. renting, let's compare the options.
Once you buy a water heater, it is your ownership and no one could take it away. There is no additional obligation.
A new appliance has a warranty. For the tank-type water heaters, the range is commonly five to ten years, for tankless even 15 years. Vendors also include some extra maintenance assistance to attract their customers.
Retailers often offer flexible monthly payments even without down payment. If you want to pay off the remaining balance, it could be done at any time, usually without the penalty.
When you buy a new water heater, installation cost is yours. It may be high, in some cases almost half the cost of a water heater. Our advice is - do not try to install a water heater yourself. It may be dangerous or if there is a problem the warranty is void.
Hire a licensed plumber who knows about gas, electric and plumbing work and has a good knowledge of the local and national codes.
You have to calculate and predict your household's hot water needs (sizing) accurately before buying. Appliances decrease value quickly, and you will be at loss if you want to replace it for a more efficient model years after.
Once the warranty expires, the owner pays all the repairs, as the water heater is old enough to develop problems.
Monthly rental rate is the only payment. For example, for a 40-gal Rheem, Power Vent water heater, I was paying approximately 25 CDN per month in 2016 (Ontario, Canada).
What you can expect is the quick response to any problem and customer service with 24/7/365 emergency phone number.
Rental provider’s agreement is very detailed and must be considered carefully. There are circumstances in which the services and repairs are not free of charge. Ask what is included in the standard installation. Read parts of agreement called “policies”, “cancellation terms”, “limitations of liability”... and be sure to understand them properly.
Expect your monthly payment to rise. Standard rental term is 15 years and annual increase is typically between 3.5% and 3.8%.
If you decide to buy-out a water heater from the rental company, it is not a good deal. Price is always high for that, already used, and old appliance.
Then, buying or renting?
To buy or rent a water heater - you will decide according to your needs, plans, wishes, budget... Some calculations show that after 8-9 years of usage buying becomes more profitable than renting. We add – most of time. A water heater needs to be maintained regularly to reach its full lifetime. Repairs and maintenance may be more or less expensive, regardless of the factors under our control.