Rent vs. Own: What is Right for your Family?

In Ontario, most homeowners rent their water heaters. Ontario is the only province with a strong water heater rental program, and many people chalk that up to habit – it is what everyone did before you, so you continue the trend.

Renting is the default option for many people. Reasons that people perpetuate renting are because that’s what is familiar to them – it’s what their parents did, or the water heater was under contract when they purchased their home. Renting provides many conveniences that owning doesn’t, which is why many people often continue to rent their water heater.

While owning a water heater is less likely in Ontario, it is the norm for the rest of Canada. Why is that? What do they know that we don’t? 

Below will outline some of the pros and cons of renting vs. owning your water heater to help you make the best decision for your lifestyle and your family. 

The average lifespan of a water heater is 10-12 years – some longer, some shorter depending on water quality, installation, usage, and maintenance.

Renting your Water Heater

Benefits of renting:

  • Free installation
  • Low monthly fees
  • Maintenance, repairs, parts, and labour are covered in your monthly fees
  • Good short-term option

The convenience that comes with renting is worth the extra cost to a lot of homeowners. Many companies offer same-day service, and you aren’t responsible for repairs or replacements under your rental contract. These companies will install your unit for free, and the monthly costs are usually around $20-$40/month (depending on the size/technology of your specific unit). This peace of mind allows homeowners to sleep soundly. 

If you are staying in your home short-term, renting is a great option. You are unlikely to want to shell out the cash for an owned unit and be responsible for the repairs if you aren’t going to be in your home for the lifetime of the water heater.

Owning your Water Heater

Benefits of owning:

  • You have say over what model and efficiencies you purchase and install
  • More cost-effective in the long term
  • Ideal for people who are in their homes long term

The biggest argument swirling around the internet is that owning your water heater will save you money in the long run. This is not untrue – owning your water heater is a larger upfront investment, but you will save a significant amount of money over the lifespan of your unit if you own vs. rent. With warranties being the best they have ever been, it may be the time to own your water heater.

If you choose to purchase your own water heater, you have full control over what brand, type, and technologies you get. With new technology and innovation emerging, it is a great time to feel good about the decision to own your water heater. Water heaters are now equipped with various new technologies that eliminate the need for frequent maintenance, allow you to check on your heater with an app, alert you when there is a leak, among many more. These technologies are allowing homeowners to feel empowered when choosing a water heating unit, and more and more are switching to owning vs. renting because of the cost savings long term.


Regular maintenance is important to keep your water heater healthy and to ensure it will last its entire life expectancy. Rental companies don’t often make regularly scheduled maintenance calls unless you request them. It is important to check on the health of your water heater every 6 months to 1 year. The rate at which your water heater needs to be evaluated will mostly depend on your water quality and usage. The harder your water is, the more scale and lime build up your water will see, and the harder your anode rod will have to work. 

Whether you rent or own, checking on the health of your unit is important. The benefit to renting is, if you do notice that maintenance needs to be performed, you can just schedule a visit with your rental company to have them take care of it. 

To learn more about what maintenance is encouraged for your water heater, see our maintenance how-to guide.

Starting Monthly Rental Cost Lifetime Rental Cost (Lifetime in years) Cost of New GSW Unit Savings Over Lifespan 
Electric $16.94 $2,032.80 (10) $649.99-$999.99 $1,032.81 – $1,382.81
Atmospheric Vent $22.70 $2,724.00 (10) $949.99-$1599.99 $1,124.01-$1,774.01
Power Vent $33.45 $4014.00 (10) $1,549.99-$1,699.99 $2,314.01-$2,464.01
Tankless $46.99 $8,458.20 (15) $2459.99 $5,998.21

Table 1.0: Costs of Rental Water Heaters vs. Bought Water Heaters

*Prices taken from Home Hardware

*Rental prices and new unit prices do not include tax

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