One should consider more than monthly heating costs when comparing heating oil vs. propane. After all, the price of heating oil, propane, and natural gas fluctuates – so you should take more into consideration when selecting a heating system for your home or business.

Instead, consider the pros and cons of each system, the cost of oil furnaces compared with propane furnaces, and how where you live affects your choice.

But before we get into the pros and cons, let’s learn more about home heating oil and propane.

An Overview of Propane vs. Heating Oil

  • Both heating oil and propane are delivered to your home by truck.
  • Heating oil and propane are stored in a tank on your property.
  • Heating oil is derived from crude oil.
  • Propane derives from natural gas.
  • Heating oil equipment is cheaper than a propane furnace but requires more maintenance. 
  • While heating oil is more expensive than propane – it is also more efficient.

Differences Between Heating Oil and Propane

Heating oil is a form of petroleum that is derived from crude oil. This low-viscosity fuel oil is used in oil furnaces or boilers.

Propane is a byproduct of domestic natural gas processing. Propane is a liquified petroleum gas (LPG) that is stored and compressed as a liquid. 

Pros and Cons of Heating Oil

There are plenty of benefits of using oil heat – especially if you live in the Northeastern US. However, there is no perfect way to heat your home. Let’s take a look at both the advantages and disadvantages of home fuel oil.

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Indoor heating oil tank in a home basement.

Benefits of Heating Oil:

  • Heating oil produces more heat per gallon than propane.
  • Heating oil has a higher BTU output per gallon than propane. This means heating oil goes farther than propane. 
  • Oil equipment generally costs less to purchase.
  • Heating oil is safe. It vaporizes when its temperature reaches 140 degrees.
  • Heating oil burns cleanly and does not put off any soot inside the home.

Drawbacks of Heating Oil:

  • The price of heating oil is subject to international market forces and is more volatile than propane.
  • Heating oil produces more carbon dioxide gas than propane when burned.
  • Oil furnaces need to be cleaned more regularly.

The Pros and Cons of Propane

Propane has been heating homes for decades. This fuel is an excellent option and has some distinct advantages over heating oil. Let’s take a closer look at what propane gas has to offer and the drawbacks that come with it.

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A propane delivery truck delivers home fuel to a customer.

Benefits of Propane:

  • Propane is generally less expensive per gallon than heating oil.
  • Propane does not produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide when burned. 
  • A propane furnace requires little maintenance. 
  • Many home appliances can be powered by propane. 

Drawbacks of Propane:

  • Even though heating oil costs more than propane, you’ll use less heating oil to warm your home. 
  • A new propane furnace costs more than an oil furnace.
  • Propane is combustible.
  • Propane tanks must be stored outside, while heating oil tanks can be stored in the basement or another out-of-the-way space.

Costs of Oil Furnaces Compared to a Propane Furnace 

The initial cost of an oil furnace is usually about $1,000 less than that of a propane furnace. Oil furnaces are also easier to install and require little maintenance.

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A home heating technician inspects a propane furnace.

On the other hand, propane furnaces cost more upfront but are more efficient in heating your home and require less fuel than heating oil. In addition, propane furnaces require less maintenance and offer a much longer lifetime than heating oil systems.

Ultimately, the best fuel for heating your home depends on your location and budget. Depending on where you live, heating oil may be cheaper than propane or vice versa. So it’s crucial to weigh all of your options before making a decision. Consider asking local heating professionals what fuel they recommend before choosing a heating system.

Uses of Heating Oil and Propane

Heating Oil Uses:

Heating oil is a versatile resource that has numerous uses. From powering industrial machinery, heating commercial buildings, and keeping our homes warm in the winter, heating oil provides a reliable and clean energy source.

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A fuel delivery driver refills a heating oil tank.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, about 5.3 million US households used heating oil as their primary space heating fuel. About 82% of those households were in the Northeast region.

Common Applications of Heating Oil:

Propane Uses:

Propane is not only used for heating homes. It’s also a fuel source for heating commercial buildings, powering outdoor equipment such as lawnmowers and chainsaws, and heating indoor appliances in the home such as stoves, ovens, and dryers.

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A new propane tank is installed outside of the home.

In addition, propane is a popular fuel for fueling recreational vehicles (RVs) and heating outdoor areas such as decks and patios.

Common Applications of Propane:

  • Heating homes
  • Fuel for outdoor grills
  • Powering outdoor equipment
  • Fueling recreational vehicles (RVs)
  • Heating indoor appliances

In Need of Propane or Heating Oil Delivery?

HOP Energy has been the go-to source for propane fuel and home heating oil delivery in the Northeast f