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Heating Oil vs. Propane

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Heating Oil vs. Propane, is one better for your home than the other?

Many in the industry consider heating oil to be the king of liquid fuel sources. If that’s true, then propane should be considered its queen. And when it comes to keeping your castle warm and powering your appliances efficiently, there are benefits to having them sit on the throne together.

First, it’s important to understand what both fuels are. 

Heating oil is a form of petroleum that is derived from crude oil. It has a low viscosity and is sold mainly to heat homes and businesses.

Propane is primarily a byproduct of domestic natural gas processing. It can also be a byproduct of petroleum refining. Propane is a liquified petroleum gas (LPG) that is stored and compressed as a liquid. 

Why Choose Heating Oil?

  • Heating oil produces more heat per gallon than propane.
  • Heating oil has a higher BTU output per gallon and is used up more slowly than propane; meaning you’ll pay less overall to heat your house with heating oil, even if the per gallon cost of propane is less.
  • Oil equipment generally costs less to purchase.
  • Oil is one of the safest fuels to heat your home with. Heating oil doesn’t ignite until its temperature reaches 140 degrees, when it vaporizes.
  • Heating oil is a clean fuel which produces almost zero emissions. It burns cleanly and any soot that it creates remains inside the equipment.

Why Choose Propane?

  • Propane is generally less expensive per gallon than heating oil.
  • When burned, propane does not produce significant carbon dioxide. It is an approved, clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy Act of 1992.
  • Because propane burns clean, propane heating equipment requires less maintenance and may last longer than heating oil-based equipment.
  • Its nontoxic and nonpoisonous, so propane doesn’t contaminate groundwater or soil if it leaks.
  • Propane furnaces can be vented through regular PVC pipe through the roof or a wall rather than through a traditional chimney.
  • Many home appliances can be powered by propane. 

Oil Heating Considerations:

  • Most heating oil comes from offshore sources, which means its price is subject to international market forces and is therefore more volatile than propane.
  • When burned, heating oil produces more carbon dioxide gas than propane.
  • Oil furnaces need to be cleaned more regularly to dispose of the soot produced inside the equipment when the oil is burned. 

Propane Heat Considerations:

  • Propane produces fewer BTUs per gallon than oil heating. Therefore, you need more gallons of propane than you would of oil to heat your home. Thus oil heat may be less expensive in the long run.
  • Propane-burning equipment often costs more to purchase than heating oil-based systems.
  • Propane is combustible in air.
  • Most propane suppliers give you the option of purchasing the tank from them so that you own it or leasing the tank from them. By purchasing the tank, your cost may be higher, and you are responsible for maintaining it and checking for leaks. By leasing the tank, the cost is controlled over time and your propane provider handles the maintenance. However, by law, one propane provider cannot deliver to another propane provider’s tanks. So, if you wanted to switch providers, you would have to have the old ones removed and new ones installed.
  • Unlike heating oil tanks, which are installed in a basement, crawl space or garage, propane tanks must be outside. This means they are either in view or need to be hidden behind shrubbery or buried in the ground.

Choose BOTH Oil and Propane! 

It’s very common to use both oil and propane in a house. Oil heat provides the most efficiency and warmth. Many companies in the Northeast can deliver and service both types of fuels so there is no need to contract with two separate companies. Both heating oil and propane provide a high degree of efficiency and safety. And, propane can be used for many things, including gas fireplaces, stovetops, ovens, generators, clothes dryers, and pool heaters. Consider that:

  • Most professional chefs prefer to cook with propane gas because they get precision temperature control.
  • A propane clothes dryer gets hot more quickly, heats clothes more evenly, resulting in lower operating costs and less wear and tear on clothes.
  • Propane water heaters typically recover water twice as quickly as electric models, yet they cost up to 30 percent less to operate. And if you upgrade to a tankless propane water heater, that energy savings number can jump even higher.
  • Using propane for lighting, portable or built-in gas grills, fire pits, pool heaters and patio heaters, can help you extend your outdoor living season.

Choose Levco To Help You Decide:

If you’re still not sure whether heating oil or propane – or BOTH – is the right option for you, let Levco’s experts help point you in the right direction. Levco has been providing fuel to its customers for over 40 years! Whether you’re looking for oil delivery, propane delivery, propane grill bottles, or HVAC equipment, Levco takes pride in providing a valuable resource you can rely on. Contact us today or give us a call at (203) 533-8249!


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