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How to Choose Between Natural Gas vs. Oil Furnaces

A small wooden home wrapped in a scarf placed in front of a window.

Is your furnace getting up there in age? Or maybe your current heating system demands frequent repairs? Whatever the case, if you think a furnace replacement is in your future, you’ve probably been wondering about the pros and cons of natural gas vs. oil furnaces.

Before you make your choice, here are five factors that might influence your decision in choosing gas heat vs. oil heat:

1. Gas and Oil Furnaces

Before discussing the pros and cons of natural gas vs. an oil furnace, let’s go over these types of furnaces and how they function.

As the name suggests, natural gas furnaces are heating systems that run off natural gas, a fossil fuel found deep within the earth. When the thermostat dips to a certain temperature—a sign that heat is needed—the furnace will open the gas valve. After this, the required amount of gas will waft through the furnace from the burner. Once the burner gets lit, heat is created within the heat exchanger. Regarding gas heat vs. oil heat, it’s worth noting that this fuel source has become more popular in recent years.

Alternately, oil furnaces are heating systems that use oil as their energy source. The way they work is that oil is ignited within the combustion chamber. This will warm the air or water, depending on which system you own, and distribute it throughout your home.

2. Efficiency

When considering the advantages and disadvantages of natural gas vs. oil furnaces, reviewing efficiency ratings is essential. This rating measures the overall efficiency of the heating systems. On average, natural gas furnaces have efficiency ratings of up to 98 percent. However, oil-burning furnaces can have efficiency ratings as high as 90 percent.

While a more energy-efficient home heating system, like a natural gas furnace, can save you money on energy bills in the long run, you should still contemplate the installation costs. Oil furnaces tend to be cheaper to install than their natural oil equivalents.

Whether you choose gas or oil, the age of your furnace can also play into your heating system’s efficiency. For instance, the older the furnace, the more likely it is to be less efficient.

3. Fuel

In general, there’s no competition regarding the costs of fuel for natural gas vs. oil furnaces.

BTU is a measurement of how much energy is needed to raise one pound of water by one degree. In terms of BTU, the cost of oil is higher than the cost of natural gas. This means that fuel costs are lower for natural gas systems, and oil prices are higher.

However, when it comes to gas heat vs. oil heat, it’s worth noting that heating oil provides more heat per BTU than natural gas.

4. Maintenance

How difficult or easy is it to keep up with gas heat vs. oil heat? The amount of maintenance required can drastically vary from one or the other. Generally, gas furnaces require little maintenance. Due to their high efficiency, natural gas systems usually don’t need frequent repairs.

Oil furnaces, however, require regular maintenance to clean out the soot and dirt that collects. Additionally, you may require frequent vent or chimney cleanings. We all know that in Bucks County, PA, heating repair and maintenance are necessities, especially during the cooler months.

5. Convenience

Now that you know the ins and outs of natural gas vs. oil furnaces, it’s time to address one last point: overall convenience. Availability and practicality can play a vital part in the type of furnace you select for your home. Topics worth considering include:

  • Noise: Gas furnaces tend to make less noise than oil furnaces. Oil furnaces can sometimes make strange sounds when they’re not running as they should and require repair.
  • Cleanliness: The gas used with natural gas furnaces burns clean. On the other hand, oil doesn’t burn as cleanly as natural gas.
  • Availability: Oil furnaces are serviced frequently and easily by a delivery company. There is also a storage tank of oil on your property. On the other hand, natural gas has limited production and cannot be installed in every location across the country. Gas lines limit where natural gas systems can be installed.

Turn to Dilling for Furnace Installation

Whether you’ve made your decision or still need help choosing between natural gas vs. an oil furnace, contact Dilling for all of your heating needs. Our licensed technicians are experts in heating system installation and furnace repair for Bucks County, PA, and the surrounding areas.

Learn more about heating installation and natural gas vs. oil furnaces by contacting Dilling today!

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