Water heaters and bread toasters have a filament known as NICROME. this the filament of a metal similar to tungsten. This works on electricity. When the electricity is passed into the following apparatus the NICROME filament gets heating up slowly and becomes red hot and produce heat. Now a days these are also used in the INDUCTON HEATERS and also EMMERSION RODS to cook foods and to heat water.

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Heaters and bread toasters have a heating element made of high resistance alloys like nichrome (80% Nickel and 20% chromium).  The appliance consists of a uniform tube (cylindrical) which is wound in a coil form in a water heater.  The resistance is in a ribbon (strip) form in a toaster to radiate most energy through a large surface area.

When electricity flows in the coil, the electrons travel in side the alloy.  They accelerate due to AC potential. Then the electrons collide with atoms on the way and lose energy. These collisions generate a lot of heat and rise the temperature of the coil. 

In water heater the heat is transferred by conduction from coil to water. 

In a toaster, the heat is transferred from heating plates to bread through radiation in air.