Fuel Cost Calculator
  • By ezHomeHeating.com
  • In Blog
  • Posted April 13, 2013

Heating Oil vs Propane

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.)

Cost Analysis

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.

Heating Oil Prices & Propane Prices

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.

Sample Calculation

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

Fuel Comparison Calculator

Heating Oil Propane
Efficiency %
BTUs / gallon
Cost / gallon $
BTUs per $

To compare Heating Fuel costs, check out our Fuel Cost Calculator.

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