October 13, 2020

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.

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.

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 navigate fluctuating fuel prices, Primemax offers its customers a fixed price program that allows you to keep your propane costs consistent over the course of the year.

Advantage: Propane

Heating Efficiency

When it comes to heating efficiency, 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 furnaces also tend to be less expensive to purchase and install, which means that you’re paying less in upfront costs. 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.

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.

4 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. 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!

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