How to Decide Between Oil and Gas Furnaces

If you’re considering a heating system for your home, the issue of oil vs. gas furnaces may come up. Both systems are in use in residential applications, and both have a long history of providing reliable home heating. In the United States, more than 50% of homes currently use natural gas heating, while about 8% use oil. Here’s a brief compare-and-contrast of oil vs. gas furnaces.

Furnace Cost

Oil furnaces typically cost less than those utilizing natural gas. In most cases, the up-front cost of a new oil furnace can be between 10% and 25% lower than a similar-sized gas furnace.

Furnace Efficiency

Furnace efficiency relates to the amount of BTUs of heat produced by a specific amount of fuel. Furnaces with higher efficiency usually cost less to operate. Efficiency is expressed by an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency percentage. A higher AFUE percentage means greater efficiency. Gas furnaces offer AFUE ratings ranging from 89% to 98%, while the efficiency of oil furnaces is somewhat lower (80% to 90%).

Cost of Fuel

Natural gas is substantially cheaper than fuel oil. An oversupply of gas now exists in the United States and is predicted to continue for the foreseeable future. While fuel-oil prices have also dropped in the past few years, the price of fuel oil for heating is still up to 50% more than gas.

Installation Costs

If you are installing heating in a home, the cost of an oil vs. gas furnace installation may differ slightly. Depending on the efficiency and difficulty of installation, installing an oil furnace will run anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000, while installing a gas furnace costs from $3,000 to $6,000.

Maintenance Requirements

Maintenance of a fuel oil furnace is more demanding due to the requirement to change the oil filter, clean the fuel nozzles and burner, etc. A gas furnace requires less labor-intensive upkeep. However, due to safety requirements imposed by natural gas, professional annual maintenance of gas furnaces is still critical.

For a professional opinion on the relative benefits of oil vs. gas furnaces, contact the heating experts at CCAC.

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    David Mathewst David Mathews is the owner of CCAC Air Conditioning and Heating. A Corpus Christi native... More »