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Oil and Gas: Choosing the Best Heating Option for Your Home

By Malcolm Rivers

Heating your home during the winter can be expensive and deciding on the best option for your home is increasingly complex. Here, we offer some issues and ideas to consider when choosing how to keep your home warm and comfortable this winter.

Potential Benefits of Gas Heating

Taken at face value, natural gas is a cheaper option for heating you home than oil is. In recent years, it has cost on average it costs approximately $732 to heat a home with gas during the winter, compared to $2,535 for oil heat according to the federal Energy Information Administration. Natural gas prices are also not expected to rise considerably due to a steady, and possibly increasing, supply. More and more homes in the U.S. are heated by natural gas at this point, as well, making it not only a more economic option but also one that is increasingly common as utilities are increasing the placement of gas lines in neighborhoods to keep up with demand. Many states also provide loans to incentivize natural gas furnaces. To see what's available in your area, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency website. Gas is also considered better for the environment due to lower carbon emissions than oil heating.

Potential Drawbacks of Gas Heating

Though natural gas is considered the more environmentally friendly, the process for obtaining the gas from the environment poses considerable problems for the surrounding ecosystems due to issues with resulting water quality. For residents in places with older homes, like those in New England, a significant concern can be the expensive process of converting to natural gas heating and installing a natural gas furnace in a home designed in an era focused on oil heating. Though, as mentioned earlier, there are loans available for conversion, the loans are sometimes capped at amounts that are lower than the amount needed to achieve conversion and the overall costs, of the conversion and the loan needed to convert, can be considerable. For example, all expenses considered, an example of a natural gas conversion cost setup ranges from $6,000 to $8,000.

Potential Benefits of Oil Heating

The most substantial benefit of oil is primarily based on location. As a New England resident, many of the homes, as previously mentioned, were built systems for oil heating and there is no guarantee, all costs included, that converting to heating with gas is the more economically viable option. It may be beneficial to leave the established heating system in place and focus on heating efficiently to minimize heating costs for your home, rather than engaging in the costly conversion process.

Potential Drawbacks of Oil Heating

Heating with oil is more expensive, on a monthly basis, than heating with gas is. Oil heating is, when considering emissions, more dangerous for the environment as well. One of the less considered issues with heating with oil, however, is the costs incurred in the event of oil heating tank leakage. The costs for clean up of the hazards, potential lawsuits and related issues can be staggering. Many home insurance plans specifically avoid this issue so be aware when considering this option. More information from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is here though it is worth keeping in mind that parts of the assessments of the costs, etc. may have changed due to the passage of time but the information should inform thought process and further research on the issue, nonetheless.

With prior preparation, an eye on efficiency and costs, good insurance and a plan, both oil and natural gas heating can be made to work well for New England homeowners. Regardless of which energy source you use to heat your home, consider these issues when doing making your choices and differentiate between short term and long term costs and concerns. Much of what should dictate your decision should be the type of home you have, how it's built and always keep energy efficiency measures like effective insulation and use of alternative heating options in mind when considering a home heating plan.

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About The Author

In 2005, Malcolm attended Harvard University where he received his Bachelors of Arts...

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