November 29, 2021

If you live in a rural area, it’s likely that you will need to choose between propane and oil to heat your home.

Propane furnaces and oil furnaces are both popular options for rural homes in Ontario. 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.

At Primemax Energy, we offer expert service and delivery for residential propane heating systems in Southern Ontario.

Read more about the advantages of heating your home with propane vs. oil, or contact us to learn more about pricing programs, fuel costs, and more.

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.

Fuel Costs

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 where you live and the current market state.

In order to help you save money and navigate fluctuating fuel prices, Primemax offers its customers a fixed price program that allows you to keep your propane costs consistent throughout your heating season.

Advantage: Propane

Heating Efficiency

When it comes to high-efficiency heating, oil is the more efficient fuel. Oil contains ~137,000 BTUs per gallon, while propane contains ~91,000 BTUs per gallon, resulting in greater energy output when used for heating. View statistics on other fuels here.

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 are able to reach much higher efficiency levels than oil furnaces. This means that propane furnaces are able to provide more heat to your home per gallon, despite the fuel’s lower BTUs per gallon.

Propane-fueled furnaces also tend to be more cost-effective to purchase and install, which means that you’re paying less in upfront costs. In addition, the average cost 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.

Advantage: Propane

Environmental Impact

Heating oil produces approximately 22 pounds of CO2 per gallon more than 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 a 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 and ovens, barbeques, fridges, and even cars or other vehicles (including some farm equipment).

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.

Advantage: 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 or the availability of certain fuels in your area.

If you’re considering switching to propane and want to learn more about pricing programs, fuel costs, and more, contact Primemax Energy. We will provide you with recommendations to suit your specific needs.

20 thoughts on “Propane vs. Oil Heat: Which is Better for Your Home?

  1. It’s good to know that propane is more efficient than oil and is also cheaper to purchase and install. My parents are having a vacation lakehouse constructed for the whole family. I’ll share this with via chat later so they’d choose propane to heat the new home. Thanks!

    1. We are so glad you found this post helpful! Be sure to check back for more topics you may find interesting as you move into the propane world!

    2. I will suggest sitting down and truly understanding. As my first day using propane was 12/13/21 and today is 1/20/22 and I have filled a 500 gallon tank, 3 times with today’s fill, which is a total of $24.56.49 for the past month and 1 week.

      Long term, I can’t speak for savings, but immediate savings, none what so ever. I live upstate NY. Propane used for cooking, heating and hot water. home is 3400sqft and heating stays at 70degrees at all times, nothing higher, maybe lower
      Take note that I have a brand new high efficiency wall hung boiler.
      Just an FYI,

      Hope this helps

      1. That cant be rite… and if it is then something gravely wrong with your boiler, boiler undersized,thermostats, or there is a propane leak somewhere.. There’s no way… Ive been in the HVAC trade for over 30 years and I can tell you with certainty there’s a huge problem somewhere

  2. Too bad you didnt tell the truth about high efficiency furnaces. Oil HE is at 95% where propane is at 90-93%. Those are measured values. Oil heat is very hot, propane is like natural gas, luke warm. Propane runs and runs. Oil is very quick. Our 2100sq ft farm house is using 1 tank, ROTH 1000 litres, oil per year, supplemented by 1 small Morso wood stove
    in living room. Our neighbours propane costs about 25% more per year with similar equipment. Price of oil is much cheaper, 50% more efficient. Roth tanks good for 20 years. Canadian made Kerr furnace is one. There are others made in Nova Scotia.

    1. Hi Kari!
      Thank you for your feedback on our blog. We’re glad to hear that you’re happy with your current set up with your oil furnace.
      Of course, we recognize that each home and furnace vary depending on the use, insulation of the home, square footage of the home, and any supplemental heat sources. However, our research has shown that the average propane furnace achieves 95% efficiency and provides fast and reliable heat, in contrast to the average oil furnace which achieves 85% efficiency.
      It is difficult to make direct comparisons in costs, as each area and supplier will provide different requirements, services, and pricing, and both fuels will fluctuate in base costs throughout the year. However, at Primemax we do our best to help our customers fight back against price fluctuation by offering a fixed price program to help them save more money and manage expenses.
      If you have any questions, please contact us at 1-800-377-1666. Have a great day!

    2. I would love to get your opinion on how well you feel your post has aged in relation to the cost of oil vs propane?

  3. It’s great that you talked about heating options for a house. Recently, my parents decided they want to sell their house and move to the countryside. They want to purchase a small home, and they’re considering their heating options. That’s why I think this article will help my parents make the best choice for them, so I’ll be sure to share it. Thanks for the tips about how propane is a great versatile option for a home’s heating system.

  4. Thank you so much for going in-depth about propane furnaces and how much cleaner and efficient they are. I’ve always been the kind of person to do what I can to use clean forms of energy and fuels, so knowing this helps me a lot in making decisions for my new appliances at home. I’ll make sure I work toward getting a new propane furnace when I work with a heating contractor in the area.

  5. Very good article. We went from oil to propane when out furnace was replaced 5 years ago. Oil, for us is better. It burns cleaner and requires less maintenance. We live in Virginia.
    Ultimately, it’s a matter of choice for what suits your situation.

  6. April 2022. I live in frigid Saskatchewan on a an acreage. It is like the arctic here from Dec through Feb. I currently have a 25 year old oil furnace which has worked well. Anyway, realtors tell me that potential buyers tend to shy away from places that have oil heat. As well, after a recent minor glitch with my oil furnace, I have found that oil furnace repair folks are few and far between. Sounds like I am one of the few people around here that does not use NG (mostly, I would think) or propane or some other heat source. They tell me that just to pipe NG to my acreage would cost around $50,000.00 (CDN). So, I think this summer I will be installing a new propane furnace.

  7. My 25-year old oil furnace runs at 85% efficiency when serviced. My oil tank (installed outside the house) will be out of insurance soon. So, I am thinking instead of getting stuck with a new oil tank with a furnace that may have to be changed soon, I change the system.

    The option for me is to go solar or propane. The solar option is very confusing for me. I live in Nova Scotia.
    Can you suggest one over the other? Thanks.

    1. Nova Scotia Power is not dependable. With a small inexpensive generator you can have hot water and heat. Oil is my choice.

  8. It’s great that you mentioned how propane furnaces are able to reach much higher efficiency levels compared to oil furnaces. We are currently in the middle of the construction of our dream house and we have decided to use propane heating for it. Aside from that, we should definitely ask for propane delivery services later if we want to be able to operate the heater when necessary.

  9. I live in a rural area in in Ontario.
    I pay 86 cents for propane (fireplace insert) and $1.85 litre for oil (furnace).
    I have to make a decision in the next few years to update my oil tank (in basement) and would like to know based on the price of oil and propane, (at todays price) , would it be better to switch to propane or stay with oil? Estimate on savings either way?

    1. I like in rural Ontario as well, and have a 85% efficiency oil furnace that is 30 years old – runs great with very little maintenance. Looking to replace as PM so I don’t get caught one winter morning….

      Adams oil furnaces run 98% efficient, the most efficient in North America. However, the the downside with going with oil is insurance, tank replacement, tank compliance (TSSA), Carbon tax and what should be most on everyone’s mind is the environment. Oil produces more BTU by volume and if propane is say 20% less by volume, you may actually break even based on price by volume X BTU. I am also looking at buying a heat pump that will further offset oil or propane consumption.
      Oil is just becoming so tabo so I probably go propane but with a heat pump.

  10. I am in the process of needing to replace a 30+ year old oil boiler/furnace. I live in Nova Scotia, I am heating a small bungalow with a partially finished basement. A friend was telling me recently about their Propane boiler installed two years ago and how happy they are with it. So it has me considering a propane boiler. I already have propane hooked up in my home for a Propane clothes dryer and fire place insert. Could you send a quote on install cost of a Propane boiler in my area please?

  11. The smell. The maintenance. The lack of technicians. These are all reasons I switched from oil to propane. Couldn’t be happier. Way cheaper for me and way less maintenance and cost. For me there is no debate. Propane all the way. And way better for the environment.

  12. Hi there,
    My furnace just gave out. It’s 21 year old oil furnace. Considering propane but the technician said it will cost 13,000. That’s quite expensive. Thoughts please?

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