Comparing Gas Furnaces Vs. Oil Furnaces
During the winter months, many homeowners often discuss and debate the cost and efficiency of heating a home, with the discussion inevitably centering around whether it is better to use a gas furnace or an oil furnace. Some of them are enthusiastic about oil heat, while others swear by natural gas. Homeowners who are planning to install a new furnace should understand the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
When shopping for a new furnace, the first thing to look out for is the efficiency ratings. The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, AFUE, measures the combustion efficiency of a heating system, where a higher number signifies higher efficiency. Most modern gas furnaces boast AFUE ratings of between 89% and 98%, while their oil counterparts have ratings of between 80% and 90%. However, although gas furnaces have better ratings, that efficiency comes at a cost. Typically, a gas furnace is more expensive than an oil furnace of the same size. All modern furnaces, however, are significantly more efficient than furnaces that were manufactured ten or more years ago.
The advantage leans in favor of gas furnaces when it comes to fuel costs. Fortunately, with the falling oil prices, homeowners are enjoying relatively low heating costs. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, heating costs likely to remain reasonable for the remainder of the winter season.
Pros and Cons of Each Type of Furnace
• Oil Furnaces
Oil furnaces supply more heat per BTU, British thermal unit, than other sources of heating; however, homeowners must install an on–site storage tank. In addition, they are less expensive than gas furnaces. However, their efficiency is lower and maintenance is more expensive due to soot and dirt buildup.
• Gas Furnace
Gas furnaces have better efficiency ratings and their fuel is less expensive. However, for installation to be possible, a home must be located in an area with a gas supply. Gas furnaces also cleaner and quieter than oil furnaces, and require very little maintenance. However, they hive out less heat per BTU and cost more than oil furnaces.
Regardless of the type of furnace one chooses, it is important to hire a reputable and qualified HVAC contractor and acquire several estimates before making such a major investment. In addition, there are private and public financial incentives and rebates available to homeowners who upgrade to a high efficiency system.