While it may seem like one home heating fuel is better than the others, it really comes down to several different factors. Choosing the which is best is a matter of personal preference. When it comes to calculating the prices though, several factors are also involved depending on the different types of fuel for heating your home. In actuality, the prices of the fuel can really be a small factor in the calculations you make.
Types of Home Heating Fuel
When you research home heating fuels, you will find there are six ways to heat your home that include:
It can help to narrow down your options to just a few candidates when making a decision. That way, you can focus more on the advantages of each source and how they compare to each other.
Oil originates from petroleum and is then refined into several products. Unlike the refined oil that you use to make your car, remember that diesel fuel is a different product than regular gasoline, heating oil is just another fuel type.
In comparison, gasoline is extremely volatile and lightweight, which allows it to evaporate quickly. That’s why a gas station will post a warning sign telling you to turn off your vehicle, not to smoke in the area, and be cautious of the fumes. These types of warning signs just illustrate how dangerous gasoline is and why it wouldn’t be a safe fuel to store around your house.
In contrast, diesel is a heavier product than gasoline with heating oil even heavier. The heating oil that is used in a home furnace and kerosene heaters, is different than the heating fuel that is used in a power plant. That type of oil is the heaviest of all the fuels, and while heating oil for the home is thought to be a middle-weight distillate, it’s really only a little heavier than diesel oil is.
A diesel vehicle is known for its fuel efficiency while a gasoline vehicle is known to quickly accelerate. Diesel’s cost-efficient properties help to explain why there are so many diesel-fueled generators in comparison to those that use gasoline. Fuel oil is just a little heavier than diesel is making it more cost-efficient. Since it was formulated specifically to run furnaces more efficiently than diesel or gasoline, it is safe and more economical to use in a home heating system.
In comparison to oil, propane is gas instead of liquid. Liquid fuels of fluid and watery while gas doesn’t have a visible appearance similar to air. A general term for any air-like substance, gas is for heating is used for specific types of gas that you can ignite namely propane and natural gas.
Some people can get confused into thinking that propane and natural gas are the same things, but that is not the case.
The difference is propane is extracted out of natural gas. The “natural” gives the implication that gas occurs naturally, however, it does have to be processed before you can use it as a heating fuel for your furnace. A combination of gases, natural gas is composed mostly of methane, which is gas that is typically given off from a rotting vegetable. The other gases in the mix include propane, pentane, ethane, and butane, and are typically used to create fire-like butane that is found in cigarette lighters. Keep in mind that having a combination of those volatile types of gases flowing into a furnace can be hard to control. Plus, not every natural gas that comes out of the ground has components in standard proportions. Gas that is naturally occurring has to be processed for it to be classified as “natural gas.”
Propane has the properties that make it a better heating product than natural gas is. However, propane is more expensive than natural gas since you need less propane than natural gas in order to produce the same amount of heat.
A lot of people worry about the safety of using natural gas. There are many homeowners that use oil for their home’s heating system since it is familiar, plus they are often afraid of the dangers of the fumes poisoning them and their families from a gas heater, which is a leading cause of death in the United States by carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, a ruptured gas pipe can create an invisible danger in their home which could be ignited by just a spark from a simple electric switch.
In reality, a well-maintained natural gas heater is not likely to release carbon monoxide. Only an unserviced heater can release such deadly fumes. If you get your home’s heating system a regular service, it won’t be a safety issue and will help ensure that your system will have the longevity and efficiency that you desire. With preventative maintenance requirements, a gas heat system will cost about the same as what you will pay for the maintenance of a heating oil system. But, you get the added advantage that regular natural gas system maintenance will remove the danger that a build-up of carbon monoxide can cause.
Natural Gas Vs. Oil Costs
When you are considering costs, how can you be sure which is cheaper, natural oil, heating oil, or propane? It all depends on the price of crude oil and where the prices are. For example, crude oil prices plummeted from October 2014 to February 2015. This made home heating oil price cheaper than if you were using natural gas.
However, there is an apparent disconnect between the local oil fuel price and global prices of crude oil in processing and shipping. When a refinery shuts down due to industrial action or an accident, the oil price will rise. When there is a fuel shortage during peak demand, the local oil price will also increase no matter how cheaply the oil companies are able to get for a barrel of crude oil in the Persian Gulf.
Seasonal and local supply factors tell you that ultimately natural gas is cheaper when considering it as a source of heating than oil if you are using cost as your main factor of comparison.
The supply’s reliability is another important factor when considering the cost of natural gas versus oil. Depending on where you are, natural gas can have a geographical advantage over oil since the United States still has a dependency on imports to meet all of its oil needs. But, we also have an abundance of gas that has allowed us to become an exporter.
You will see more confidence in fuel companies in maintaining gas supplies since fuel is can be purchased locally, so you only have to travel a short distance. However, when you are looking at fuel oil, international conflicts can disrupt the rate at which heating oil can arrive at our shores. Or accidents like fuel tankers sinking at sea or even a spillage from a Gulf oil rig will mean that the supplies that are expected won’t make it to the United States refineries in volumes that are sufficient to keep heating oil prices stable, which means the gas supplies are more stable and reliable than the heating oil supplies are from abroad.
When you compare the three liquid fuels available for home heating, of the three, heating oil is definitely the most efficient fuel while propane is by far more efficient than natural gas is. When choosing the best liquid heating fuel, it is cleanly easy to spot the winner. But, if you are comparing liquids to gas, it’s important to note that they are not expressed with the same measurement units.
Heating oil, gasoline, and diesel are typically measured in gallons while Europe measures the liquids in liters. It’s easy to do the adjustments with the numbers that your furnace guide will give you remember that a gallon is larger than a liter, one gallon equals 3.79 liters to be exact.
In comparison, gases are measured in cubic feet while European furnace manufacturers may use the metric system when they explain their fuel supply. When using the metric system, gases are measured in cubic meters, and, in this instance, the metric unit is larger than an Imperial unit with one cubic meter equaling 35.3 cubic feet.
How much is home heating oil today?
Vaccine development progress, as well as OPEC expectations, will help to decide how the oil market will regain its balance in the next year, which can push prices even higher. The prices are currently expected to be at an average of $47 a barrel. With cases of COVID starting to surge in Europe and the U.S., it can weigh on transportation and economic activity causing uncertainty for oil demand, which can cause prices to go down.
What is the price of heating oil in NY?
The current level of heating oil is 1.844, which is up from the previous market day of 1.804 and from a year ago at 0.908. To compare, this is a change of 2.22 percent from yesterday and 103.1 percent from just one year ago.
What is the price of home heating oil today in Massachusetts?
Currently, the price of heating oil for a home in Massachusetts is at an average of $2.85 a gallon in May. It has seen a high of $4.31 a gallon and a low of $2.25 a gallon in the same month.