Hot water is essential if you want to enjoy a shower. But, it costs to heat the water and this can make it important to find a balance between when the heater should be on or not. Part of the equation is knowing how long it takes for a water heater to heat up. However, there isn’t one simple answer to this. In fact, there are several variables to consider.

Why Is My Water Heater Taking Long To Heat?

water heater

It’s important to be aware of all of these to save energy costs and to help if you are looking at getting a new hot water system.

Type Of Water Heater

The first thing to consider is what type of water heater you have. There are two main types, instant, and storage. 

The instant water heater can be gas or electric and does exactly what it says. It heats your water instantly. In short, you turn the heater on and make sure it has fired up. Then, turn on a faucet and a few seconds later you should have hot water.

This type of water heater is very efficient but often has a reduced flow in order to get the water to the desired temperature. 

The alternative is a tank heater. In this case, the water sits in a tank and is heated to the designated temperature. The water heater will turn on and off to maintain the temperature. Again, you can have gas or electric-powered water heaters. 

A gas-powered one will heat a tank of water in approximately 40 minutes, the electric one will take closer to one hour and twenty minutes. It’s worth noting that it will take the same amount of time regardless of whether it is mains electricity or solar power


The above figures are based on a 40-gallon water tank. If the tank is larger it will take longer to heat and if it’s smaller it will be quicker. 

It’s worth looking at how big your water tank is and how well insulated it is. The better the insulation, the more efficient the heater will be, saving you a little time heating it and extending how long it stays hot. 


Another critical factor is the age of your heater. The older it gets, the less efficient it is likely to be. This will extend the time to heat your water and could be a good reason to look at replacing it. 

As your water heater ages, it is even more important to have regular servicing. This will help to maintain its efficiency and will ensure you know if the water heater is about to pack upon you. 

Final Thoughts

Instant or tankless water heaters are more expensive to purchase and suffer from a lower water flow. But, they minimize energy usage and they will always give you hot water instantly. That makes them worth considering. 

However, most households still use tanks. Here, it is best to heat it overnight when electricity is cheaper.


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About the Author: McKenna Tucker