Propane Heat vs. Oil Heat - Which is More Economical?

Posted by Chris Kauffman
| May 2016

In the midst of a rough Pennsylvania winter, the cost of heating can quickly heat up! Especially if you have a larger home or an older, less efficient heating system, it's important that the fuel that heats your home is the most efficient and economical.

More and more people throughout Delaware, Lancaster, and Chester Counties are taking a close look at propane heat to meet their needs. Propane heat offers a variety of advantages that traditional oil just can’t match – but people are often hesitant to make the switch.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” makes sense in a lot of cases, especially to pragmatic homeowners...but when it comes to heating, making the leap to propane has huge advantages.

Let’s consider some of the biggest ones right now:

Propane Heat is Less Expensive Than Oil

BTU for BTU, oil generates a little bit more heat than propane does. However, oil boilers are often much more inefficient on average than propane boilers. A difference of 10% or more isn’t uncommon.

Prices for propane gas also tend to be lower on average throughout the heating season. As consumers, we feel the dramatic price spikes in oil month by month. While the price of propane in Pennsylvania averaged around $2.70 last winter (almost a dollar higher than oil's price at the same time), the price of propane has been consistently lower than oil. Last year, a propane gas surplus made prices even lower. 

 

Propane vs. Oil - price of propane per gallon Oil vs. Propane - price of oil per gallon
Average price of propane in the US Average price of oil in the US

Homeowners with larger propane tanks can take advantage of lower off-season prices this by filling up when prices are at their lowest.

Propane is a True Clean Fuel, Unlike Oil

The federal government recognized propane as a clean fuel since the early 1990s. It’s nontoxic and harmless to both soil and water.

Since it’s cleaner to use than oil is, propane heaters and other appliances tend to last longer than those relying on conventional oil. Unlike oil, it won’t go bad while in storage. In fact, it can last for years with no change in its properties.

Propane is Safer Than Oil

If mishandled in any way, heating oil can create tragic consequences. Fires related to faulty furnaces or incorrect storage can start in a matter of seconds and spread quickly through a home.

While it’s still important to understand safety basics when handling propane, regulations on propane appliances are strict and safety hazards are much fewer overall.

Propane is Easier to Monitor and Save on Than Oil

Choosing the right size of propane tank and the best propane appliances for your home can help you save money year-round – but good luck getting the same benefits from oil.

Since propane is measured in plain old ordinary “gallons,” it’s easy to figure out how much you’re using.

Plus, propane has a range of modern, ultra-efficient appliances you can enjoy.

Propane Boilers are Easier to Manage Than Oil Ones

In a lot of ways, propane is just easier for homeowners to deal with:

  • The majority of propane boilers are wall-hung units, which allows you to save on space versus a bulky, traditional oil boiler.
  • Propane boilers don’t need to be cleaned regularly, while oil-based ones become inefficient and dangerous if not thoroughly cleaned at least once a year.
  • A propane heating system does not require its own chimney.
  • Propane heaters can modulate their output according to the specific temperature, while oil heaters typically only have two settings: On or off.

Propane Heat Is Better Than Oil Heat Overall

It might seem like a bit of a hassle to make the change to propane, but it's easier, less costly, and more convenient than you might think. Once you do it, you'll benefit from safe, clean, efficient heating with lots of built-in savings.

Pennsylvania locals and long-term visitors often find that even the cost of an all-new propane boiler quickly pays itself over the course of a few seasons. Once you switch, you'll wonder how you ever did without it. 

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Chris Kauffman

About the Author

Chris Kauffman

Chris is the Vice President of Kauffman Gas. He is the fourth generation of Kauffmans involved in the daily operations of Kauffman Gas. He helps lead the team in delivering propane gas and top quality service to customers in Chester County, Lancaster County and parts of Delaware County, Pennsylvania.