Oil Or Gas Furnaces?
With temperatures rapidly dropping from the blazing summer heat to a freezing chill, homeowners are discussing the efficiency and cost of heating a home. The debate centers around whether gas or oil is the better source of fuel?
The first thing to look at when shopping for a furnace is the efficiency rating, commonly called Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). This rating measures the efficiency of a machine’s combustion, where a higher rating signals a higher efficiency. Most new oil furnaces have AFUE ratings between 80% and 90%, while gas furnaces boast ratings between 89% and 98%. Although gas furnaces are more efficient than oil furnaces, that efficiency comes at a price. Gas units are typically priced 10% to 25% higher than the same size oil furnace. All new furnaces are more efficient than their older counterparts by as much as 30%.
When it comes to fuel costs, the advantage tilts in favor of gas. Oil prices are more volatile because of global supply and demand but natural gas production is centered in the U.S. and Canada. This secures a more stable supply. Perhaps because of this difference, about 50% of American homes are heated with gas today, versus about 8% of homes with oil heat.
- oil equipment provides more heat per BTU than other sources, but an on-site storage tank is required and oil must be delivered
- oil furnaces are regularly and easily serviced, but maintenance is more extensive due to dirt and soot build up. Chimneys must be cleaned and the oil filters need to be changed frequently as well
- oil furnaces cost less than gas furnaces, but efficiency is lower and fuel prices are higher than with gas systems.
- natural gas furnaces have high heating efficiency and fuel costs less, but your home must be in an area where a gas supply is available
- furnaces require very little maintenance, but gas provides less heat per BTU than oil
- furnaces are quieter and cleaner, but are more costly than oil furnaces
Regardless of which type of heat source you prefer, use a qualified and reputable HVAC company such as Park Mechanical when you make any major investment in your home. Often, there are public and private rebates or financing incentives available to homeowners who upgrade their systems, so make sure to explore all of your options.