Gas vs. Oil: Which Furnace Is Better?

Jan 12, 2020 | Main Blog | 2 comments

With temperatures dipping into the single digits here in the Northeast—and below 0° F in many other places—shivering homeowners are discussing the efficiency and cost of heating a home, with the debate inevitably centering around the question of which is better, gas or oil?

Some people swear by oil heat. Others are equally enthusiastic about natural gas. I have experience with both types of furnaces: Our home uses gas, while my in-laws have an oil furnace. For those who are considering a new furnace, here are some pros and cons about your options.

Related: Is It Time to Replace Your Furnace?

Furnace Efficiency

The first thing to look at when shopping for a furnace is the efficiency rating, commonly called Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). The rating measures the efficiency of a machine’s combustion, where a higher rating signals a higher efficiency.

Most new oil furnaces have AFUE ratings between 80% and 90%, while their gas counterparts boast ratings between 89% and 98%. Although gas furnaces are more efficient than oil furnaces, that efficiency comes at a price—gas units are typically priced 10% to 25% higher than the same size oil furnace. All new furnaces are substantially more efficient than their counterparts of ten or more years ago, some by as much as 30%.

Fuel Costs

When it comes to fuel costs, however, the advantage tilts in favor of gas. The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts the average household will spend the following for heating this winter (October 2012 through March 2013):

  • Natural gas — $690 per household, 13.3% increase over the previous winter
  • Heating oil — $2,558 per household, 22.5% increase
  • Propane (Midwest) — $1,448 per household, 5.9% decrease
  • Electricity — $964 per household, 7.3% increase

While oil prices are more volatile and subject to the vagaries of global supply and demand, natural gas production is centered in the U.S. and Canada, securing a more stable supply. Perhaps because of this difference, about 50% of American homes are heated with gas today, versus about 8% of homes with oil heat.

Here is a look at some of the pros and cons of each type of furnace:

Oil Furnaces

  • Oil equipment provides more heat per BTU than other heating sources, but an on-site storage tank is required and oil must be delivered.
  • Oil furnaces are regularly and easily serviced by the delivery company (a service contract is required), but maintenance is more extensive due to dirt and soot buildup—chimneys must be cleaned and the oil filters changed frequently.
  • Oil furnaces cost less than gas furnaces, but efficiency is lower and fuel prices are higher than with gas systems.

Gas Furnaces

  • Natural gas furnaces have higher heating efficiency and their fuel costs less, but your home must be in an area where a gas supply is available.
  • Furnaces require very little maintenance (no service contract needed), but gas provides less heat per BTU than oil.
  • Furnaces are quieter and cleaner, but they cost more than oil furnaces.

Regardless of which type of heat source you prefer, use a qualified and reputable HVAC contractor and get several estimates before you make any major investment in your home. There are often public and private rebates or financing incentives available to homeowners who upgrade their systems, so make sure to explore all of your options before you buy.

 

Source: Bob Vila

 

2 Comments

  1. Razel

    regardless of what is more reliable, overall costs is what matters when saving money. I would think twice before deciding what to get.

    Reply
  2. Levi Armstrong

    My husband and I plan to have a furnace installed in our new vacation home. It’s great that you mentioned that oil furnaces are more affordable than its gas counterpart, plus it provides more heat to a home. If we find a fuel oil delivery service nearby the property, we’ll definitely choose to have an oil furnace. Thanks for this!

    Reply

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All Home Heating Oil is Not the Same - Carlisle Petroleum

All Home Heating Oil is Not the Same

Jan 12, 2020 | Main Blog | 0 comments

People in this country rely on different sources of energy to heat their homes and keep themselves warm during the winter season. Although LPG, electricity, and other renewable sources are familiar, there is one that stands out: home heating oil. The most distinctive characteristic of heating oil is the fact that it is delivered by oil delivery companies and it is stored in a tank that is commonly placed or situated beneath the home.

But contrary to what most homeowners who use heating oil believe in, not all home heating oil is the same. Even if they all look alike and serve the same function, heating oil is actually distinguished into different types and grades. In this article, we look at those differences and compare each one.

Types of Heating Oil

Generally speaking, there are two types of heating oil intended for domestic or home heating. They are:

Gas Oil – This is also referred to as red diesel or the 35 second oil. It is distinguished by the fact that it is heavier and is primarily used in older generation of boilers, more specifically those once used in commercial and agricultural use.

Kerosene – Kerosene on the other hand is the second type. It is known as the typical heating oil and also called 28 second oil. Its main advantage is the fact that it is lighter and cleaner.

If you recently moved into a new house or property, the kind of oil you will be using primarily depends on the type of heating system that is already in place. In most instances, there is a clear label on the boiler or the tank, giving you the right instructions on what type of heating oil was used previously. If there is no indication, you have to ask a heating oil expert to be sure.

 

Heating Oil Costs

Furthermore, another manifestation that all home heating oil is not the same is the costs. Kerosene, for one, is considered as the more efficient compared to gas oil. But then again, there is also great emphasis placed on the area where you live and the availability of the type of heating oil in your state or city.


Heating Oil Grades

But aside from the two types, heating oil is also differentiated on grades. Traditionally speaking, there are three different grades along with three intermediary grades. Likewise, each has its own distinctive quality and characteristics. But just a preview of the quality of each grade, the common scenario is that when you choose a higher grade, it also means you will have to spend more on it. Although higher grade heating oil is more expensive, it also burns cleaner, more efficiently, and has lesser impact on the environment.

But just like the types we’ve mentioned earlier, you have to first understand your heating system and your furnace to be able to use the right oil required to keep your home warm during the winter. And for your information, heating oil, as of today, is the second most widely consumed petroleum product, obviously behind only to gasoline.

1 – Heating Oil (Grade) 1 and 2

Number 1 and 2 heating oil is considered as the two most common type used for residential heating. 1 is less expensive compared to 2. Actually, 2 has the same classification as diesel fuel in the United States so most people think they’re one in the same. However, they are not because number 2 is formed during the refining process by heating and then condensing raw crude oil. The best attribute of number 2 is that it is more efficient than other fuel sources for home heating like natural gas, propane, kerosene, or even electricity.

2 – Intermediary

Intermediary grade heating oil on the other hand is mostly blended mixtures of higher grades and lower grades. They are mostly used for industrial and commercial burners with better efficiency. However, they are expected to be more expensive.

3 – Number 6

The last grade is called heating oil number 6. This one is the least expensive of the three standard heating oil grades. However, as the price implies, it is also the dirtiest. Using this type of home heating oil will most likely correspond to more frequent maintenance and cleaning of your furnace and heating system. Because of the high concentration of pollutants and sulfur, it is gradually being phased out.

 

Source: R.F. Ohl Fuel

 

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