Should I Switch My Heat Source?

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It’s that time of year again — winter is coming, and it’s time to take a look at your home’s heating system and determine if it’s in need of repairs or replacement. It’s also a good time to decide if you should switch your home’s heating source. What’s the best way to choose what kind of heat source would be great for your home? Is one type of heat source better than the others? Let’s find out.

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Types of Heat Sources

Before choosing your home’s heat source, it’s important to know what the different options are. The most common fuel sources are:

• Natural gas
• LP (propane)
• Electric
• Fuel oil

The type of fuel that’s available for your home-heating needs will largely depend on the type of climate you live in and what’s available in the area. Homes in the Northeast, for example, may still rely on fuel oil, while other homes may have been converted to electric.

Overall, the most popular type of home heating is natural gas, equipped in more than 50% of the country’s homes. By comparison, around 34% use electricity, 8% rely on fuel oil, and a mere 6% still use propane.

If you’re in one of those percentages that still uses something other than natural gas, such as fuel oil, the best and most cost-effective option is often converting your heating system to something that burns natural gas instead.

Cost of Conversion

First, keep in mind that these figures are examples that use the conversion of a fuel oil heating system to a natural gas one. Switching from propane or electric heating might incur different costs.

Overall, though, natural gas equipment is quite a bit less expensive than some of the alternatives. A standard natural gas system — which includes a furnace for home heating and a boiler for hot water — will usually cost between $1,500 and $3,000. By way of comparison, a fuel oil system could cost as much as $8,000!

On top of the cost of the equipment, you have to consider the cost of fuel. A supply of fuel oil sufficient to heat your home throughout the winter season will cost around $2,500, according to reports from the Energy Information Administration. Natural gas, on the other hand, will cost homeowners around $730 for that same winter season.


One of the biggest reasons to convert to natural gas is convenience. While fuel oil works well for harsh climates, the oil has to be delivered to your home by truck, and if you run out during a particularly cold night then you’re going to be left shivering until a delivery truck can make it to your home.

Natural gas, on the other hand, is piped directly into your house. As long as there are no problems with the pipes, you’ll have heat throughout all the coldest nights.

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Carbon Footprint

One of the biggest reasons to switch from fuel oil to natural gas is that it’s one of the easiest ways to reduce your home’s carbon footprint. Fuel oil used for heating homes generates 161.3 pounds of carbon dioxide per million BTUs emitted. While that doesn’t seem like much, with 8% of homes still using fuel oil, that CO2 adds up quick.

On the flip side, natural gas emits 117 pounds of CO2 for the same amount of heat. When it comes to fuel choices, natural gas is the friendliest option for the environment.

Additionally, natural gas heating systems are much more efficient than their fuel oil counterparts. Oil furnaces are between 80 and 90% efficient, while natural gas heaters have a 98% maximum efficiency. That means natural gas heaters burn 98% of their fuel, with only a 2% fuel loss, where fuel oil systems can lose up to 20% of their fuel as waste.

If you have the means to upgrade to a natural gas system, it may be the best investment you ever make for your home. Not only does it offer higher heating efficiency and less fuel waste, but it’s also better for the environment and will allow you to heat your home all winter without breaking the bank.