Electric Vs. Gas Vs. Oil Furnace


If you live in a climate where heating your home is necessary, you have multiple options available for heat. If you are remodeling or replacing your heating unit, or if you are seeking the right type of heat for a new construction, you have a few options. The most common are electric, gas and oil. Several factors regarding each type should be carefully considered before making the final decision.


  • Family safety is definitely an issue when it comes to heating the home. Electric heat has advantages such as no fuel combustion, which makes it cleaner than gas or oil, and automatic breakers keep the furnaces from overloading. Oil furnaces have no risk of explosion, and the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is minimal. The fumes that may be present after product delivery are nontoxic, and they will quickly dissipate. Gas furnaces pose the biggest threat, with more risk of carbon monoxide escaping. There is also the possibility of combustion issues causing a risk of explosion.


  • To see which type of furnace is more efficient, consider that to get the same amount of heat, you need 1.4 therms of gas, 40.6 kWh of electricity and one gallon of oil. A gallon of oil creates heat in the amount of 140,000 BTUs, and the natural gas equivalent provides 100,000 BTUs, proving that you use 40 percent more natural gas than heating oil for the same amount of heat. Based on those amounts and the market prices for each, oil furnaces are more efficient than gas or electric.


  • The average life span of a gas furnace is approximately 15 years, compared to 20 to 30 years for an electric furnace. Oil furnaces also last an average of 30 years. When using oil, dependability increases with the fact that there are never any public utility issues, and you own the fuel supply. You have security and control that many other options don't offer. You choose when to buy oil, and the wise consumer will purchase when oil prices are low. There are no issues with public utilities or with government-run lines. You basically own your fuel supply located on your property.


  • When considering up-front costs, the least expensive heating option is electric. Electric furnaces require no storage tanks or additional fuel pipes, nor do they require venting. Operation and maintenance of electric furnaces are simple and inexpensive. After installation of an electric furnace, heating with electricity can become less affordable than heating with gas or oil. It is possible to lose heat throughout your house if the ductwork and returns have not been insulated well, no matter what type of fuel you use. Sealing leaky ductwork that runs through an unconditioned space can save up to 27 percent of heated air. Oil furnaces are very cost-efficient because of life span and the ability to purchase oil when it is needed or at lower prices. Oil heating systems require no equipment charges, and there are no month-to-month charges to the customer.

Environmental Impact

  • New oil furnaces offer a clean way to heat your home. But gas furnaces are also cleaner and easier to run, and they need less maintenance. Electricity is produced mostly by burning fuels, and this makes the process less efficient, making electric furnaces less environmentally friendly and a less desirable heating choice.

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