Propane vs. Heating Oil: Pros and Cons
Most homeowners here in the Hudson Valley rely on either propane gas or fuel oil to power their homes. Both fuels will do the job – and both are a big step up from electricity when it comes to house heating duties.
But if the time has come to replace your old heating system (or if you are building a new home and installing one for the first time), you will probably have to choose one fuel or the other – unless you choose to go the dual fuel route, with propane acting as a supplemental energy source in hard to heat rooms or for additional appliances…more on that later).
Each fuel type has its advantages and disadvantages to consider – here is a quick guide to some of the more important ones.
- Propane gas generally has a lower cost per gallon than heating oil.
- Propane equipment typically runs more efficiently than heating oil equipment.
- Propane produces almost no carbon dioxide when burned.
- Propane heating equipment requires less maintenance and last longer than heating oil-based equipment, since propane burns cleaner.
- Propane is stored as gas and is nontoxic and nonpoisonous, so it can’t pool and contaminate groundwater or soil if it leaks; that means propane tanks can be safely installed underground.
- Propane appliances can be vented using regular PVC pipe through the roof or a wall rather than through a chimney.
- Propane can also be used to power other high efficiency appliances such as ranges, water heaters, and pool heaters – all from the same fuel tank.
- Propane produces fewer BTUs than oil heating.
- Propane-burning equipment is typically more expensive up front than oil burning equipment.
- Propane requires special safety precautions, since the gas is combustible in air.
Fuel oil pros
- Heating oil has a higher BTU output per gallon and is used up more slowly than propane – which could mean you will pay less to heat your house with heating oil, even if the per gallon cost of propane is less.
- Oil-burning equipment generally costs less to purchase than propane-burning equipment.
Fuel oil cons
- Heating oil tanks – especially older steel-lined ones – can leak; an oil spill can be extremely costly to clean up, and it’s an expense that is often not covered by home owner’s insurance.
- Heating oil prices are more volatile than propane, since most of the heating oil supply comes from off shore and is subject to global market forces; most propane is produced in the US.
- Heating oil produces much more carbon dioxide gas than propane when burned.
- Oil-burning appliances require more frequent cleaning and maintenance.
- In an oil burning home, most other appliances – including water heaters, ranges, clothes dryers, etc.) are run by inefficient electricity rather than propane.
The bottom line
If your oil-fired system is on the way out and you’re thinking about making the switch to propane, there are many reasons to do it – but it’s going to take careful consideration to make the right call.
If you want to explore whether a conversion makes sense in your Hudson Valley home, give us a call – we’ve had years of experience helping homeowners make the switch and can help you make the best decision possible.
Thinking about switching the heating fuel in your Hudson Valley home? We can help you make the right choice! Contact Porco Energy today to learn more.