Deciding which fuel to heat your home with is never an easy decision. Propane and oil are both key players in this debate as both are are very common in American households. Both fuel services bring their own advantages and disadvantages to the table. In this article, we have broken down the major similarities and differences between propane and oil to help you make an informed decision about how to heat your home.
What is Propane?
Propane is a liquified form of fuel that turns into gas upon use. The liquid form of propane gets stored in tanks under pressure. Additionally, propane is a byproduct of natural gas or crude oil refining. Natural gas has to be processed before it is available for customers. Propane is one of the many gases (along with methane, butane, ethane, and pentane) that is extracted during that process. Furthermore, propane is delivered to your home by bobtail trucks and is stored inside propane tanks.
What is Heating Oil?
Crude oil gets processed into other varieties of oil with heating oil being one of the most common kinds. Heating oil is different from the oil you would use for your car. The two main kinds of fuel used for automobiles are gasoline and diesel. Fuel used for residential heating purposes is called fuel oil. Gasoline is a very light fuel that evaporates instantly. Due to its lightweight nature, gasoline can be dangerous if stored in large containers near your home.
Diesel is a more fuel-efficient choice than gasoline due to its heavier weight. However, fuel oil is even heavier than diesel, making it the most efficient of the three. Therefore, home heating systems use heating oil. Heating oil was specifically designed to run furnaces more efficiently. Similar to propane, home heating oil is delivered to your home via bobtail trucks. The fuel usually gets pumped into a storage tank located in the basement of the home or outside the home. Historically, underground oil tanks were used, but they have lost popularity due to their leaky nature and spread of contamination.
Key Differences Between Propane and Oil:
Fuel and Energy Efficiency
Oil is by far the most efficient fuel available when it comes to liquid fuels. On the other hand, propane is the most efficient fuel available from the gases category. However, it can be a challenge to compare oil versus propane because they do not use the same unit of measure. Heating oil measures in gallons while propane measures using cubic feet. In order to compare efficiency between propane and heating oil, you will need to use British Thermal Units (BTUs). The British Thermal Unit is the standardized unit of measurement created by the heating industries to measure the thermal properties of the fuel. BTU’s take into account the different thermal properties between propane and heating oil. After the BTU amount for propane is converted into BTU/gallon, it turns out that propane uses fewer BTUs per gallon than heating oil making it the more efficient fuel choice. Also, propane furnaces convert a larger fraction of their fuel supply into heat than oil burners do. Brand new propane furnaces have a fuel efficiency of between 89-98 percent while new heating oil furnaces have an efficiency of 80-90 percent.
The cost of both propane and heating oil can vary due to the seasons, environment, and other factors. The code for natural gas has been decreasing in America for the last few years while the price of oil has experienced a roller coaster of highs and lows over this past century. Generally, propane is more cost-effective and cheaper than heating oil. Also, the oil industry closes its refineries for maintenance during the months of March to June. This causes the price of all kinds of oil to increase during the springtime. The cost for propane and oil heating can also change depending on the delivery location. For example, a state with a shortage of propane might raise its price since demand is larger than supply. Also, oil can be more expensive in states where there is an environmental tax.
In general, propane is a more environmentally friendly source of fuel than heating oil. During the burning process, propane produces significantly less carbon dioxide than heating oil. Therefore, the United States Government labels propane a “clean fuel.”. Also, propane is not toxic or poisonous so it will not contaminate your soil or groundwater in the case of a leak.
Many think that propane is also more convenient to use than heating oil due to its environmental friendliness. Propane burns cleaner so it requires less maintenance to upkeep. Oil furnaces need to be cleaned more often than propane furnaces, which is a service that will also cost you money. While both fuels have a variety of different tank sizes and can be out above ground or underground, propane tanks last longer than heating oil tanks. Additionally, propane can be utilized in many ways than oil cannot.
Both fuels come with their own pros and cons. When deciding which fuel to heat your home with it’s important to take in as much information as possible. However, as you can read above, deciding to switch to propane might be the more beneficial option for you since it brings so many advantages to the table.
Great Valley Propane is Here to Help!
Here at Great Valley Propane, we provide high-quality propane tanks and cylinders to meet all your heating and fuel needs. Our built-in safety features ensure that you and your family will stay out of harm’s way throughout the year.