Is It More Expensive to Heat With Gas or Oil?


When it comes to heating your home, the consumer faces a choice between heating with oil and natural gas. Both are effective, but deciding between the two can be difficult. Consulting the industry experts is no help, as they usually tout their own product more than explain the differences. Neither is more environmentally friendly than the other. However, there are some costs worth considering when choosing between the two.

What they are?

  • Home heating oil, also called No. 2 fuel oil, became popular as an alternative to using coal to heat the home early in the last century. It has an energy content of 139kBTU (kilo British Thermal Units) per gallon and is safer to store than natural gas. Natural gas, made mostly of methane, is piped into the home from gas lines and is easy to meter. It has an energy content of 100kBTU. Propane can also be used in gas heating systems.

Future costs

  • Historically, heating oil and gas have been fairly comparable in price over the long term. However, some experts believe the world is rapidly approaching the year of peak oil; after that, oil prices might rise much more dramatically. Because heating oil is an imported fuel (mainly from Venezuela and Canada) while natural gas is domestically produced, heating oil can be more vulnerable to world turmoil.


  • While heating oil has a higher energy content than natural gas, boilers that use heating oil need more frequent maintenance to operate efficiently, and that can drive up the average cost of using heating oil versus using natural gas.

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