News | Propane Vs. Heating Oil

Propane Vs. Heating Oil

A common question we hear from homeowners is “what’s the difference between propane and heating oil?” After all, they both are used to heat homes. Despite this fundamental similarity, there are key distinctions that can be observed when comparing these two residential fuels.
Where They Come From:
The first major difference between propane and heating oil is their origin. Propane is a byproduct produced from the processing of natural gas as well as the refining of petroleum. Alternatively, heating oil is refined from crude oil. Both of their respective prices are tied to the global energy industry since they are sourced from other fuel refining processes. 
The Costs Associated With These Fuels:
Under normal market conditions, propane always offers a cheaper per gallon price when compared to heating oil. Here are two additional factors that should be taken into consideration when comparing these respective costs:
  1. When assessing the differences between propane and heating oil, British Thermal Units (BTUs) must be considered. Heating oil generates roughly 139,000 BTUs/gallon to propane’s 91,500 BTUs/gallon. This means that propane produces less heat per gallon than that of heating oil. As a result, heating oil will not be consumed as quickly when heating a home. 
  2. An important cost to take into consideration when comparing these types of fuels is the equipment associated with each. Propane has a reputation for its equipment to burn fuel more efficiently and to offer a longer lifespan than heating oil equipment. Consumers can also expect heating oil maintenance costs to be higher for consumables and cleanings. While exceptions do occur, homeowners can typically expect a propane setup to be more affordable from a maintenance perspective.  
New Housing: 
There are far fewer instances in which a new home is set up with heating oil instead of propane as its primary heat source in the U.S. Relying upon propane for primary heat certainly offers a lower cost per gallon and more efficient equipment, but the true incentive of propane in new housing is its versatility. Propane is especially advantageous when accommodating the desires of new homeowner who might want (or has future plans for) a gas stove in the kitchen, a pool heater, a gas fireplace or an outdoor BBQ setup. All of these appliances can draw fuel from the same propane tank. Further, if pipelines do reach the area, it is easy to convert from propane to natural gas. Unfortunately, heating oil setups do not offer this same level of versatility. 
Environmental Considerations: 
It is commonplace for homeowners to be curious of the impact their home energy use will have on the environment. Happily, when consumed correctly, propane and heating oil have a relatively low impact on the environment. While both propane and heating oil are recognized as green fuels, propane is considered the more environmentally conscious option as a result of its significantly lower carbon emissions.

Types of Tanks:
A final distinction between propane and heating oil is the tanks that these fuels are stored in. The biggest similarity between these tanks is that both types are typically made from steel. While heating oil tanks are most commonly made of steel, both Roth oil tanks and fiberglass tanks serve as alternative options. The two most common residential heating oil tank sizes are 275 gallons and 400 gallons. The most common residential propane tank sizes are 100 gallons, 325 gallons, 500 gallons and 1,000 gallons. It is also worth noting that propane tanks do not deteriorate as quickly as heating oil tanks do.
Aero Energy has been providing expert advice on home energy use to homeowners for over 90 years. If you are considering making a change to your home’s energy source, we’re here for you! Just give us a call at 1-800-998-4311 and we’ll be happy to help you decide what makes the most sense for your home. 

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