Oil vs. Natural Gas for Home Heating: Which Costs More?


cover-1Two things are certain:

a) winter is coming;

b) you should brace the home budget for another long heating season.

If you’ve decided that electricity and wood-burning stoves are a no-go in terms of home heating, you can make a switch to oil or natural gas and do your wallet a favor. But which of these two fuel types is better in terms of quality, safety, and finances?

Fuelling the Future

Although the price of oil has dropped considerably over the past couple of years, natural gas is still a financially safer fuel for residential use. Why? It’s simple: the oil market is global, which means the price of oil is more susceptible to volatility caused by international factors. The gas market, on the other hand, is continental and the price of domestic gas is therefore more stable, and highly likely to remain such in the years to come.

Admittedly, in case oil prices continue to drop at the current rate, petroleum may at some point become more affordable fuel, but with the shifty worldwide supply and demand trends in the mix, homeowners who want to stay on the safe side of the heating bill shouldn’t take such risks just yet.

Available and Reliable

Availability of natural gas versus oil is another factor that plays a role in the heating cost formula – and here, too, natural gas trumps oil by a long shot. Domestic gas production has increased in the U.S. over the past few years, and the gas line network has been extended, bringing gas to numerous neighborhoods that were formerly off the grid.

In terms of reliability, natural gas is still safer, as it is shipped locally and is therefore more likely to be delivered to your household than oil which often winds up spilled at sea in transport. The availability and reliability of gas supply make this fuel type a better heating fit for homeowners who don’t want to risk mid-season fuel shortages.

Gas is Cleaner, Too

When it comes to safety of use, many homeowners are still concerned about carbon monoxide poisoning which can occur through exposure to gas heater fumes. Such fears aren’t necessarily justified: a properly maintained gas heater is unlikely to emit hazardous fumes, and the cost of having the unit serviced regularly is an investment in the heating system’s safety and efficiency. In addition to that, natural gas is environmentally safer than oil as it emits as many as 25 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which makes it a cleaner fuel for both our households and the planet as a whole.

The Cost of Installation

The main reason why some homeowners still prefer oil to natural gas lies in the higher cost of equipment and furnace installation. A residential heating system that runs on gas is costlier than its oil counterpart, but reputed gas fitting services say that the investment is more than worth it as the initial price difference can be covered through long-term heating bill savings within a few years.

Homeowners who decide to replace old gas heaters with new ones can also hope to profit from the upgrade: servicing costs for outdated heating systems are a force to be reckoned with. New gas-powered heating units are outfitted with innovative components devised to maximize fuel efficiency, which is another reason to have the old natural gas heater replaced by a modern one instead of an oil furnace.

Volume Differences

Another gain behind installing a gas heater instead of an oil furnace lies in fuel volume required to achieve optimal room temperature. An oil tank sizing a cubic foot will produce less heat than a natural gas tank of the same volume, which means that your home’s fuel consumption during the heating season will be higher if you opt for petroleum instead of gas. The takeaway? Even if the price of oil continues to plummet, the difference in the amount of oil vs. gas required to maintain the desired home temperature will result in higher heating bills for oil compared to the cost of natural gas heating.

Natural gas is definitely the fuel for the future, so if your household’s is still using an oil heating system, it’s a perfect moment to have it replaced. The cost of a state-of-the-art gas heater may seem high to an average homeowner, but the update will open the door to long-term savings, stable supply, as well as greater fuel efficiency, safety of use, and lower environmental impact. Don’t get locked out of heating in the midst of winter: swap the oil furnace for a gas-powered


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