Heating Oil vs. Natural Gas

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Like Coke vs. Pepsi, Star Trek vs. Star Wars, or an iMac vs. a PC, the Heating Oil vs Natural Gas debate continues to rage on. But unlike what you drink, watch for entertainment, or use to surf the Internet, choosing between oil and gas doesn’t just depend on personal preferences. There are clear advantages and disadvantages of both, depending upon your needs, lifestyle and values.

First, let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room. At the top of the list for most of us when choosing between two options, is cost. In regard to supply (and not including conversion costs) there is no clear winner 100 percent of the time. According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, customers who use natural gas may see rates go up in the range of 10 to 20% in 2022 compared to 2021. Home heating oil customers can expect an increase of 40% in 2022 compared to 2021 when demand was low, but only a 15% increase over the average of the last five years.

Now, here’s a look at some other factors for both energy options:

Efficiency of Heating Oil vs. Natural Gas:

  • Heating oil has optimum efficiency levels of 85-95%. When using a newer oil furnace, very little oil is wasted in combustion gasses during heating. Oil has much more heat energy per BTU than other fuels. In addition, oil heating furnaces, tanks, and other system equipment tend to last much longer than other types of heating systems.
  • On average, heating oil burns about 16% more efficiently than gas.
  • The hot water recovery rate of an oil-fueled water heater is twice as fast as a gas

Environmental Impact of Heating Oil vs. Natural Gas:

  • Heating oil and natural gas are both known as fossil fuels and are non-renewable sources of energy. 
  • Natural gas is mostly made up of methane – a greenhouse gas. It traps 20 times more heat in the atmosphere than the carbon dioxide released by oil equipment.
  • According to environmental scientists, the natural gas delivered to your home is 85 to 95 percent methane and natural gas leaks are predominantly methane. While methane poses the greatest threat to the climate because of its greenhouse gas potency, natural gas contains other hydrocarbons that can degrade air quality.
  • Heating oil is a clean fuel which produces almost zero emissions. It burns cleanly and any soot that it creates remains inside the equipment.
  • With a methane content of 95%, natural gas system losses account for 18% of total global methane emissions. This is a leading contributor to global warming and climate change.
  • Over the past 3 decades, the sulfur content of heating oil has been reduced by over 93% and today’s heating oil is 95% cleaner than it was fifty years ago.

Safety of Heating Oil vs. Natural Gas:

  • 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. Because of this higher flame point it’s much harder to ignite accidentally. It is non-explosive so it won’t release flammable vapors in its liquid state. If you drop a lit match into heating oil, the flame extinguishes on contact. And heating oil also does not produce carbon monoxide.
  • Natural gas is explosive, so if a leak develops, it could trigger an explosion. Natural gas heating systems are a leading cause of non-fire-related carbon monoxide deaths.
  • Inhalation of oil fumes is not fatal. However, gas is a leading cause of death from carbon monoxide poisoning in the U.S.
  • System malfunctions produce clear warning signs like smoke, odors or even soot before releasing carbon monoxide. Gas heating systems give you no warning of carbon monoxide production or release.

You Have Choices With Heating Oil:

  • When you use oil heat, you choose which supplier to buy it from and who will install and service your equipment.
  • Oil heat is provided by many companies, all actively engaged in a highly competitive industry. In most areas, gas is provided by one big utility – with no choice and no competition. 

Let Levco Help You Decide:

If you’re still not sure whether heating oil or natural gas is the right option for you, let Levco’s experts help point you in the right direction. Levco takes pride in providing a valuable resource you can rely on for first-rate solutions and service that none of our competitors can match. Contact us today or give us a call at (203) 533-8249!

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