Oil Or Gas — Which Is Right To Heat Your Home?

Posted on: 29 December 2021

If you live in a cold climate, there are usually two standard options for home heating: fuel oil and natural gas. Other options exist, such as heat pumps and electric furnaces, but these methods may be more costly for frigid regions or simply provide less heat as temperatures drop. Unfortunately, narrowing your choices down to two options can still leave you with a tough decision.

In most cases, this showdown won't produce one clear winner. Instead, you'll need to choose an option suitable for your budget, home, and personal preferences. While no one can decide for you, this guide will give you three tips to help you determine which fuel option will best check all of your boxes.

1. Compare Local Prices

Comparing the energy you'll get from natural gas vs. heating oil isn't necessarily straightforward. These two fuels use different units, making it challenging to understand how much of each you'll need to heat your home. What does a gallon of heating oil do for your home? What about a cubic foot of natural gas? Fortunately, you can use an online calculator to perform some unit conversions.

Using the above tool, you can see that a single gallon of heating oil provides about the same amount of heating power as 135 cubic feet of natural gas. This information will allow you to compare the relative costs of each fuel in your area. You can also contact a local heating oil company to estimate how many gallons per year homeowners in your area use to heat their homes.

2. Consider Conversion Costs

If you're building a new home or converting from electricity, conversion costs shouldn't factor heavily into your decision. On the other hand, switching from oil to natural gas or vice versa comes with some added costs. For instance, converting to oil means installing a new tank in your home, while converting to natural gas will require you to install a gas line from your meter.

Unfortunately, the cost of converting can sometimes offset some of the benefits of moving to a more efficient or cheaper fuel. When facing these costs, you may want to consider upgrading to a more efficient heating system instead. Your heating system installer can work with you to choose a system that will reduce your utility bills without requiring you to switch which fuel you use to heat your house.

3. Don't Ignore the Environment

You may also want to think about the environmental impact of your choice. Natural gas produces less CO2 per Btu produced when compared to heating oil. If you're worried about your household carbon footprint, the lower CO2 output from natural gas may be a compelling factor to consider. If available, low sulfur oil may be one option to reduce the harmful particulate matter created by heating oil.

Remember that your heating system will have a long-term impact on your home's comfort, efficiency, and environmental impact. Make sure you consider all of these factors before investing in a heating system that you'll need to live with for many years to come.