What’s the Difference Between Oil, Gas, and Electric Heating Systems?

It’s tough to find an accurate comparison of the various types of heating systems available to homeowners. How do you figure out which system will do the best job while cutting your heating bills? We’ll give you an overview of gas, oil, and electric systems, as well as an idea of the costs you can expect with each fuel type.

Heating with Fuel Oil

Fuel oil heating systems come in two varieties. There are forced air systems that blow hot air through duct work throughout your home, and there are boiler systems that pipe hot water to baseboard units and radiators. In general, boiler systems tend to be more efficient, and they can last for between 20 and 50 years when properly installed, while forced air systems last for a maximum of 20 years. However, boiler systems are far more expensive to install, which is a major reason why they aren’t as common as forced air systems.

When it comes to using oil as a fuel source, it is one of the most expensive fuels available. You can expect to pay up to 40 percent more for fuel oil than electric, and 60 percent more over the cost of natural gas.

Heating with Natural Gas

Natural gas heating works similarly to fuel oil, in that you’ll have a choice between forced air and boiler systems. The main difference is that natural gas costs far less than fuel oil. If you have natural gas service to your home, you can use it for more than just heating, too. Natural gas can be used for water heaters, cook tops, ovens, and even your clothes dryer.

Electric Heating

Electric heating systems come in two varieties: resistance heaters and heat pumps. Resistance heaters are available as baseboard systems, space heaters, and radiators. These systems use a lot of electricity, which means you’ll spend more money over natural gas, but it’s still cheaper than fuel oil. However, electric resistance heaters are the cheapest heating system to install, and they’re a zoned heating system, which means you only need to heat the room that you’re using.

Electric heat pumps are becoming very popular because they offer both heating and cooling. In the summer, heat pumps use coils filled with refrigerant to create cold air that is distributed throughout your home. As the refrigerant in the coils heats up, it is moved outside to bleed off all that excess heat. In the winter, the system reverses so that the cold coils are outside, and only coming indoors as they become hot. Heat pump systems are incredibly efficient, and often cost a little less to run than natural gas systems.

Deciding on a heating system can be tough. Start by calling local service providers to determine the costs of gas, oil, and electricity in your area. You’ll also need to think about installation costs, lifespan, and several other factors to make the right choice. When in doubt, call a professional to help you choose a system that is ideal for your home.

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