What’s the Best Way to Heat Your Home?
Understanding the Pros and Cons to Help You Decide
When it comes to heating your Hudson Valley area home, there’s a lot to consider. Firstly, there are the options of heating oil, propane, and natural gas. Further, there’s the growing pressure to switch to electricity, which is actually the least efficient option—particularly for our cold, damp winter climate.
So, what’s the best option for your home? If your current home heating system is new and performing well, there’s no reason to change. After all, it can be an expensive endeavor. But if it’s time to replace your old heating system, or you’re building a new home, it’s smart to consider the benefits and downsides of each. Here’s a quick guide to some of the bigger points:
The Benefits of Propane Home Heating
- Propane equipment, comparatively, runs more efficiently than heating oil-fired equipment.
- Propane doesn’t produce significant carbon dioxide; in fact, propane is approved as a “clean fuel” by the US Government.
- Propane heating equipment, on average, requires less maintenance and lasts longer than heating oil-fueled equipment.
- Propane is nontoxic and nonpoisonous, so it doesn’t contaminate groundwater or soil if it leaks—which means propane tanks can be safely buried out of sight.
- Propane is super versatile, and can be used to power other appliances such as ranges, dishwashers, laundry machines, and water heaters as well as grills and fireplaces. It can also be used to power a generator that will keep your home running when the electric lines are down.
- Propane gas is easy and safe to transport because it gets compressed into a liquid—you may have transported it yourself when you’ve exchanged or refilled a portable cylinder for your grill.
- All the propane used in the U.S. is produced in North America. So, every gallon of propane you buy contributes to America’s energy independence.
The Cons of Propane Home Heating
- Propane produces fewer BTUs per gallon than heating oil—you need to burn more of it to achieve the same amount of heat.
- Propane-burning equipment often costs more to purchase than heating oil-based systems.
- Propane is combustible in air, so precautions are needed to operate the equipment safely.
The Benefits of Oil Heat
- Heating oil has a higher BTU output per gallon and is used up more slowly than propane; this could mean you will pay less to heat your house with heating oil, even if the per-gallon cost of propane is less.
- Equipment generally costs less up-front to purchase.
- Ultra-low sulfur heating oil burns much more cleanly and particulate emissions have been reduced significantly from the already low levels of the past few decades.
- New heating oil systems now burn fuel 99.9% cleanly, according to studies conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven Laboratory.
Cons of Heating Oil
- Heating oil tanks—especially older steel-lined ones—can corrode from the inside and develop leaks, which can be extremely expensive to clean up. This cost is often not covered by homeowner’s insurance.
- Most heating oil comes from offshore sources, which means its price is subject to international market forces and is therefore more volatile than propane.
- Oil furnaces need to be cleaned more frequently than propane furnaces and tend to require more maintenance on average.
- In most homes that are heated by oil, other appliances (such as water heaters, ranges, and clothes dryers) are run by electricity, which is not as efficient as propane.
Benefits of Natural Gas
- Because natural gas is delivered to your home via a pipeline, you don’t have to worry about scheduling deliveries.
- Like propane, you can use it to run a range of appliances, including ranges and water heaters, as well as to heat your home.
Cons of Natural Gas
- Connecting to natural gas can be costly, depending on how far you are from the service line. It also requires excavation that can be destructive to your yard, garden, and property.
- Aging infrastructure can result in leaks that are hard identify and even more challenging to repair. At the same time, utilities and public utility commissions argue over who foots the bill. In fact, many utilities would like to pass on the cost to customers.
- Leaking natural gas contains methane, a greenhouse gas, which is proven to be harmful to the environment.
- Old, undersized pipelines result in supply concerns when temperatures plunge, and demand goes up.
- Natural gas is less efficient than propane, which delivers more than twice the BTUs. So, you’d need more natural gas to produce the same heat as propane.
So What About Electric Home Heating?
Electricity is great for lights, computers, televisions, and some appliances. But while it’s touted as the future of clean energy, we just aren’t quite there yet.
While electricity produces virtually zero emissions when you use it, until we can fully rely on wind and solar generation, electricity is the second-largest creator of greenhouse gases in the United States. That’s because most of our electricity supply is generated by coal-fired power plants. Only the transportation sector creates more greenhouse gases.
In fact, more than 63% of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas.
Electric Heat Isn’t as Efficient in the Winter Season
What’s more, electric heat takes much longer to reach a comfortable temperature and can struggle to maintain it—driving up your energy usage. That means, even without geopolitics driving energy costs up, electricity costs you more.
Think about how cold it can get here in January and February and imagine the effect on your utility bill. Plus, because electric heat pumps rely on outdoor air, they become less able to keep your home warm the lower the temperature goes. In fact, many homes with electric heat pumps also need to have oil- or gas-fired furnaces or boilers as a backup.
Rapid, widespread adoption of electric heating will put even more strain on the electric grid. Think about how many times a winter storm will knock out power to your home, and then imagine the inconvenience when you are relying completely on electricity!
The Bottom Line
The cost of every form of fuel and energy continues to be volatile. But Depew Energy has your back with multiple options to help you manage your costs, whether you choose to heat your home with oil, propane, or opt for a combination of the two! We also offer monthly budget plans that give you level payments spread throughout the year. For a limited time, we offer enrollment in our pre-buy, price cap, and fixed price options that can help eliminate price volatility.
We make it easy to do business with us. With our convenient automatic delivery service, an easy-to-use app for ordering fuel and managing your account, expert technicians and responsive customer service representatives, there’s a reason we have hundreds of five-star reviews!
If You’re Looking for a New Heating Services Provider…Call Depew Energy!
Whether you are looking to upgrade to a high-efficiency oil heating system or explore whether converting to propane makes sense for you, the experts at Depew can help. There’s a reason homeowners and businesses in Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster counties rely on Depew Energy for propane and heating oil service.
We can help you make the right choice! Contact us today to learn more.