Living in Nova Scotia, it’s likely that you will need to choose between propane and oil to heat your home as electric-resistant heating is very expensive. Heat pumps can mitigate the high cost of electricity but in the coldest months of the winter, the house will become an electrically heated home.
Propane and oil furnaces and boilers are both popular options for homeowners in Nova Scotia. While oil heating was a more common choice in the past, there is a growing trend towards using propane heating instead, for a number of reasons.
While the costs of both fuels are fairly unpredictable, propane furnaces tend to provide better heating efficiency. They also have less of an impact on the environment — both in terms of carbon emissions and risks of spillage. Propane is also a more versatile heating source, which can be used for a range of appliances.
Learn more about the advantages of heating your home with propane vs. oil:
Propane vs. Oil — Pros & Cons
When considering the pros and cons of heating with propane vs. oil, we will examine four different factors that may influence your decision: (1) heating costs, (2) heating efficiency, (3) environmental impact, (4) versatility for your home.
When it comes to fuel costs, both propane and oil will fluctuate throughout the season. Sometimes one will be more affordable, sometimes the other, depending on the current market conditions.
When it comes to heating values, oil is the more has more Btu’s per litre. Oil contains ~36,000 BTUs per Litre, while propane contains ~24,000 BTUs per Litre, resulting in greater energy output per litre when used for heating. Oil also costs more per litre than propane which helps balance out the costs.
However, another factor swings the advantage for heating efficiency back in propane’s favour, the relative efficiency of propane furnaces compared to oil furnaces.
In general, propane furnaces and boilers are able to reach much higher efficiency levels than oil furnaces and boilers. This means that propane furnaces are able to provide more heat to your home per Litre, despite the fuel’s lower BTUs per Litre.
Propane furnaces also tend to have better warranties than oil furnaces providing for better value. In addition, it will typically cost less to complete annual maintenance on a propane furnace, compared to an oil furnace.
Propane is a clean-burning fuel, so there is no soot accumulation inside of a propane furnace. This means that the annual maintenance of a propane furnace is a quick and simple process, as opposed to an oil-burning furnace.
Due to their greater efficiency Propane furnaces and boilers do not require a chimney or sidewall power venter, they vent horizontally through the outside wall with plastic vent pipes due to their extremely low flue temperatures making them ideal for new home construction and retrofit applications.
Heating oil produces twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as propane. Propane is the second cleanest-burning fuel available. Propane furnaces also require substantially less maintenance than oil furnaces as a result. In addition, oil furnaces require their own dedicated chimney, which must also be cleaned on a regular basis.
Another environmental factor that weighs in propane’s favour is the risk of spillage. Home heating oil spills can seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater or nearby bodies of water. Spilled oil can also damage your property and require extensive soil remediation.
By contrast, propane leaks present no major environmental risks when used for home heating. If you are looking for greener fuel, there is no question that you should choose propane.
Advantage: Strongly Propane
Versatility for Your Home
One of the biggest reasons to use propane as a heating source for your home is its versatility. While oil can only be used for heating systems, propane can also be used to power stoves, cooktops, clothes dryers, tankless water heaters, fireplaces, heating stoves, stand-by generators, pool heaters, garage heaters, space heaters, barbeques, and more.
In fact, many people prefer propane for cooking, instead of electric burners, because of its quick heating time and even heat distribution. In general, the ability to use the same fuel source for a variety of household appliances is a large advantage for propane.
Choosing Between Propane and Oil
At the end of the day, the decision to heat your home with propane vs. oil depends on your specific situation. Your choice may be influenced by the type of furnace that is already installed in your home. If you have aging oil-fired equipment or need to replace your oil tank or both the money can be better spent on a new more efficient and environmentally friendly propane furnace or boiler.
If you’re considering switching to propane and want to learn more, contact the team at Ultimate Home Comfort. We will provide you with recommendations to suit your specific needs.