How do you pick the best fuel to heat your home? You do the research! Here’s what we discovered about heating oil vs. gas and electricity. Let’s start our discussion with an overview of heating oil.
Overview of Oil vs. Gas vs. Electric Heating
- Heating oil continues to be a popular choice for homeowners in the Northeast.
- Heating oil burns hotter than natural gas and is a clean-burning fuel.
- Heating oil furnaces are less expensive to run than electric furnaces.
What is Heating Oil?
Heating oil is derived from crude oil and is considered a mid-range petroleum product. It is very similar to diesel fuel as both have a similar boiling range and chemical composition.
Once refined, heating oil is transported by pipeline, tank trucks, or railroad tank cars to oil terminals and bulk storage facilities, then delivered to local heating oil companies.
Oil heating gained popularity in American homes in the early 1930s. It’s estimated that during 2020-2021, about 5.3 million households in the United States used heating oil as their primary heating fuel.
Advantages of Oil Heating
Oil heat has enjoyed longevity in the marketplace partly because of the efficiency of the fuel and partly because of the durability of oil heating systems. Here are the three main advantages of using an oil heat system.
Heating Oil Benefits:
- Heating oil burns hotter than natural gas, so it heats your home much faster.
- Heating oil produces more heat per gallon than some other fuels.
- Those living in remote areas have easy access to heating oil.
- Heating oil systems last almost twice as long as gas units and cost less.
- Heating oil is safe because it vaporizes when its temperature reaches 140 degrees.
- Heating oil is a clean burning fuel and doesn’t produce soot inside the home.
Disadvantages of Home Heating Oil
Of course, there’s not a perfect heating system. Here are some disadvantages of using a heating oil furnace in your home.
Heating Oil Drawbacks:
- The cost of heating oil fluctuates depending on the value of refined crude oil in the international market.
- Oil heat systems need to be cleaned with some regularity.
Natural Gas vs. Oil Heat
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that forms and collects in between and within rock formations and some crude oil and coal deposits. Once the natural gas is brought to the surface, it’s sent to a plant for processing.
The fuel is then distributed through a network of pipelines to suppliers across the country.
Pros of Natural Gas Heating
Natural gas is a popular choice in the country but is only available in some areas. Here are the pros and cons of this type of heating system.
Benefits of Gas Heat:
- Natural gas is convenient to use.
- It’s cheaper than electric heating.
Cons of Natural Gas Heating
Even though natural gas is a popular choice for U.S. homeowners, there are some drawbacks to natural gas furnaces.
Drawbacks of Gas Heat:
- A natural gas furnace is expensive as gas line installation is costly.
- Some carbon dioxide is released when a natural gas furnace is running.
- Natural gas furnaces may only last 10 to 15 years, which is shorter than the average lifespan of a heating oil system.
Differences Between Oil and Gas
Which is better – heating oil or natural gas?
Depending on where you live, heating oil is often less expensive than natural gas. Also, heating oil is safer to store and use than natural gas since it vaporizes at 140 degrees and doesn’t produce carbon monoxide.
Finally, advancements in heating oil systems have cut home consumption by 33.6% over the past 30 years.
Comparing Gas and Oil Furnaces
Natural gas furnaces are more expensive than heating oil systems. It is also costly to convert from a heating oil to a natural gas system.
The average life expectancy of a furnace fueled by heating oil is 30 years or more – compared with natural gas furnaces, which may last only 10 to 15 years.
When comparing the cost of natural gas versus heating oil, fuel oil has historically been competitive. However, a gallon of heating oil generates 40% more BTUs of heat than an equivalent amount of natural gas, so you need to make sure you are making an apples-to-apples comparison.
When comparing heating oil vs. natural gas, oil heating is the more affordable solution for your home heating needs.