Should you rent or buy your water heater?

Highlights

  • Pros and Cons: Rent, Buy or Finance
  • Why a Sales Person Pushing Rental as the Only Option is a Red Flag
  • How to Break Free from a Water Heater Contract in 3 easy steps

Having access to hot water is a crucial part of most of our daily routines and access to clean running water is an absolute necessity. Since most of us are never without running water it makes sense that we take it for granted, however, when it comes time to replace your home’s water heater it’s important to select the right equipment for your home and your family. 

There are many options for water heaters on the market today from the classic, reliable storage water tanks to the modern, compact tankless water heaters. – Learn more about water heaters.

Once you decide what equipment best fits your home you will then need to consider the best way to pay for it. Ottawa homeowners looking to buy a new water heater have three major options available to them: buying outright, financing to buy, or renting. In this blog post, we will examine the pros and cons of each option to help you choose the one that is best for you.

Total Cost

The main hurdle homeowners face when paying for a new water heater is the upfront cost. It is likely not a surprise that buying your equipment in full upfront is the least expensive way to purchase a water heater in the long run. However, for most homeowners paying a $2,000 to $4,000 lump sum isn’t always convenient, especially since old water heaters can break down unexpectedly and must be replaced quickly. This leads many homeowners to believe that their only option is renting.

Rent

Pro: Low upfront cost. 

Con: Never ending monthly fee.

Buy

Pro: No monthly fee. 

Con: High upfront cost.

Finance

Pro: Lower upfront cost. 

Con: Monthly fee for a fixed period of time.

One thing to consider when renting your water heater is that the monthly fee can add up quickly over time, especially when you consider that a typical water heater lasts for 10 years. The reality is that with most rental contracts, you will have paid the same amount as an upfront purchase by year 8 but you will have to continue renting for the rest of the equipment’s life. Most analysis shows that buying can cost up to 35% less than renting, even including a maintenance plan! Ultimately, when presented with the option to buy, especially if financing is available, it is almost always more wise to purchase new equipment as opposed to renting.

Chart comparing prices for renting, buying and financing a water heater

Financing Options

Homeowners who aren’t in a position to pay for their equipment lump sum can still take advantage of the benefits of ownership by financing their purchase instead of renting. Many contractors offer options to finance equipment, leaving you the freedom to choose a financing plan that suits your budget and preferences. Preferences can include interest on loans, installment payments, or flexible payment terms, and ultimately allow you to tailor the financing to your specific needs. Financing will cost slightly more than buying your equipment upfront due to interest however, once your financing term is done you will no longer make monthly payments and you will own the equipment. 

Rental Buyouts

It’s also important to note that most rental agreements include a buyout fee should you wish to opt out of your rental contract. A buyout fee is an amount you pay to release yourself from a contract in addition to the monthly payments you have already made. Financing, on the other hand, ensures homeowners reap the benefits of ownership without the large upfront cost of an outright purchase.

PRO TIP: If you are getting quotes from HVAC or plumbing companies and you feel like they are pushing you towards a rental option, ask them to outline the total cost of the system based on the projected rental period. Also, ask what is the minimum rental period and if you can see a copy of their rental contract buyout table if you look to break it early.

Maintenance and Repairs:

Many homeowners enjoy that their rented equipment comes with included service and maintenance. There certainly is value in this peace of mind however it is not unique to rental contracts. Many contractors offer maintenance and protection plans for water heaters that are bought or financed. As seen in the chart above, these plans are affordable, and when looking at the cost of owning a water heater they become almost a non-factor compared to renting costs. 


For instance, at Francis Plumbing Heating & Cooling our GOLD maintenance plans offer homeowners worry-free protection for a wide range of home equipment, such as water heaters, furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, air conditioners and even plumbing systems. If you live in or around Ottawa we also offer same-day emergency services for water heaters and HVAC equipment at no extra cost! – Learn more

Rent

Pro: Maintenance and protection plan included in one monthly payment.  

Con: No choice of maintenance plan or provider.

Buy / Finance

Pro: Choice of many maintenance & protection plans at different price points. 

Con: Monthly fee is separate from any financing. (However, this means that the maintenance plan can be changed at any time and is not tied to your equipment.)

Home Value

When you own a water heater it becomes a permanent fixture of the property, adding to your home’s value. On the other hand, renting new equipment doesn’t add any value to the home, and rental agreements must be transferred to new homeowners should the home be sold. Negotiating these rental contract transfers can also be a real headache and lead to more stress during an already stressful time. Additionally, if the new homeowners don’t want to take on a rental contract you may be forced to buy out your rental contract (see more above). By purchasing new HVAC equipment, the value of your home increases and the home-selling process is simplified as there are no contracts to transfer!

Rent

Con: Does not add to the value of the home and the contract must be transferred on the sale of the home.

Buy / Finance

Pro: Choice of many maintenance & protection plans at different price points. The maintenance plan can be changed at any time and is not tied to your equipment.

Summary

  • Buying your water heater is significantly cheaper than renting in the long run. 
  • Financing your equipment offers all the same benefits as renting plus you own your equipment. 
  • Renting offers the highest overall costs and the least flexibility. 

When possible, buying equipment offers the clearest, lowest cost to homeowners, and offers maximum flexibility for the choice of service providers and maintenance and protection plans. If budgeting is a concern, financing offers monthly payments for a fixed period of time after which you own your equipment. Renting offers none of the benefits that owning a water heater does, and has the highest overall cost. 

At Francis Plumbing Heating & Cooling we do not believe that HVAC rental contracts are in the best interest of the homeowner which is why we do not offer rental contracts. The long-term trust of our customers is our number one goal and we want to enable you to make the smartest choice for your home and your budget!

Have more questions about the best way to purchase a new water heater? Give us a call! Our HVAC & water heater experts will be happy to walk you through all the details and help you select the best equipment for your home. 

Infographic outlining how to break free from a rental water heater contract