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Pros and cons of heating fuel choices

If you’re in the market for a new heating system, or starting to consider it, one of the first choices you need to make is “what type of fuel will this furnace use to create heat?” This is a quick guide to help with your decision.


If natural gas isn’t available in your area, it’s not a choice. Heating oil is delivered by truck making it almost universally available. Electricity is in every home unless you’ve decided to live off the grid. If that’s the case, this guide isn’t for you.


Natural gas is the cheapest fuel, and with currently abundant supplies, the cost should remain low for the foreseeable future. Heating oil costs are driven by the world price of oil meaning the price can rise quickly. Currently, prices are low. Electricity rates are expected to rise due to environmental regulations, although this will not happen overnight. Especially during the deep freeze of January and February, electric heat will struggle to keep your home warm.


Electricity is your most efficient fuel with furnaces rated to 98% efficiency. If you’re ecologically minded and willing to pay a higher overall fuel cost, electric is the answer. Natural gas tops out at 95% efficiency at the high end and 92% for more economical models. Older units may be as low as 80% efficiency, making them candidates for replacement. Heating oil is at the bottom of the efficiency barrel, topping out at 83% AFUE.


Without an open flame, electric heating is the safest source of heat. Eliminating a flame removes the danger of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, a possibility if burning is incomplete and ventilation poor. Natural gas and heating oil share the same combustion process which is completely safe - as long as the unit is maintained regularly.

Aire Serv® has options whichever fuel you choose.Call us for more detailed information about your specific situation.

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