Let’s take a look at comparing propane and oil for heating our home. When it comes to choosing the energy source for an oil furnace, there are a few ways to go. All together you can choose from electric, natural gas, propane, and oil. All of these will get your home warm and cozy but which is the best? What are the differences between them?
Propane and oil
The one significant similarity is that both propane and oil are fossil fuels. They both have to be delivered and stored at your home or business in their containers. Of course, both have fluctuating prices that change according to supply and demand. The amount can vary from one day to the next, primarily if a big winter storm is occurring. The longer it stays cold, the more fuel you will need and the more pricing will go up – for both.
However, even though you know that the prices will fluctuate the pricing will still not be on equal terms because the fuels heat differently depending on which you use. Oil has 48 percent more BTUs per gallon than propane. (The British thermal unit (Btu or BTU) is a unit of heat that shows how much heat/energy is required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.) So, even though a gallon of heating oil is more expensive than a gallon of propane, oil has more BTUs per dollar than propane. Therefore, it takes less oil to heat the home than propane. Point to oil.
However, when you factor in efficiency and cost this bonus diminishes for Team Oil. The effectiveness of an oil furnace is known to max out at 87%. This ratio cuts the BTU per dollar advantage by half. (Check out the US Energy Information Administration for more information on the specifics of BTU numbers) This inefficiency now gives an advantage to propane.
Maintenance and flammability
As for maintenance, propane has an edge. It is clean burning and doesn’t need the frequent cleaning that burning oil does. There’s also the cost of chimney maintenance because this leads to more damage because of the oil.
With oil down by two, it may seem that propane has the advantage. However, one critical factor that has to be taken very seriously is that propane is highly flammable. This heavier-than-air gas may gather in low spots if there’s a leak and can explode if there’s any flame or spark. Because of this, the propane tank must always be placed outside, away from the house or business. A furnace that uses propane might not work if the outside temperature surrounding the tank becomes too cold.
On the other hand, heating oil may also leak, but there’s no risk of it catching fire so the oil container can be kept in a home, usually the basement.
So, you see there are many factors to consider if choosing between oil and propane to heat your home. It would be best if you looked at the costs from all sides to determine which is best for you and your family. If you need help looking at new heating or air conditioning system for your home ADD Air would love to assist you. Give us a call today!