- By ezHomeHeating.com
- In Blog
- Posted April 13, 2013
One question that's often asked is "Which fuel is more cost
effective - heating oil or propane?"
(If you are interested in knowing more about these fuels,
we encourage you to read our posts on
Heating Oil and
Propane where we
provide factual details of these fuels.)
As the figure shows, the per gallon cost of Propane has typically
been lower than the per gallon cost of Heating Oil. But if you
made your decision solely on this information, you would be
basing it on partial facts.
To do an accurate comparison between the two fuels, one needs to consider the following :-
Efficiency of the Heating System
This is an important factor because system efficiency decides how much energy is indeed
used toward heating your home. While the actual efficiency will largely depend and
vary based on different makes/models and age of your individual system, the average
heating oil system is about 80-85% efficient compared to the average propane system
which is about 90-95% efficient.
BTUs per gallon
BTU (British Thermal Unit)/gallon is a measure of the amount of energy generated by
combusting a gallon of fuel. Heating oil is the winner in this category because it
produces roughly 138,500 BTUs/gallon vs Propane which only produces
around 91,500 BTUs/gallon.
Cost per gallon
Finally the cost/gallon which is an important factor as well. The cost will largely
depend on where you live, seasonal demand, crude oil supply etc.
For these calculations, we are using March 2013 average prices from our home state
of Massachusetts (source US EIA) - $4.10 (heating oil) & $3.20 (propane).
For system efficiency, we will use 92% for propane and 82% for heating oil.
Heating Oil → (138,500 BTU/gal * 0.82) / $4.10 = 27,700 BTU/gal per $
Propane → (91,500 BTU/gal * 0.92) / $3.20 = 26,306 BTU/gal per $
Try our calculator with your custom values
To compare Heating Fuel costs, check out our Fuel Cost Calculator.