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Gas vs. Oil Furnaces: What to Consider When Making the Comparison

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If you’re planning to build a new home or renovate an older one, you may be weighing the benefits of a gas vs. oil furnace. Which is the best type of heating for your Northern Virginia home?

Naturally, most homeowners consider the cost of fuel first when choosing. At the moment, natural gas prices are low because of abundant supplies. Oil has historically been the most expensive mode of home heating. It’s not known if gas prices will continue to stay low, of course, but oil has traditionally tended to be more volatile.

Following is a breakdown of the pros and cons of a gas vs. oil furnace.

Oil Heating

There are a few benefits to oil heating over gas-powered options. Oil-fueled furnaces typically cost less than gas-powered models, plus oil gives off more heat per British thermal unit (BTU) than gas. Oil furnaces are also easily serviced.

But heating with oil comes with disadvantages as well. Oil furnaces get dirty as soot and dirt build up, requiring frequent filter changes and other maintenance. Homes with oil heating need on-site storage tanks. And the fuel efficiency of oil-burning furnaces are lower, with the maximum annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating topping out at 90.

Gas Heating

Homeowners who choose to heat with natural gas with experience several benefits. For one, gas-fueled furnaces require less maintenance, and gas is less expensive than other fuels. Gas-powered furnaces are the most efficient, with newer ones boasting an AFUE as high as 98. Finally, gas furnaces burn cleaner and are generally quieter than oil-burning types.

What are the Disadvantages of Gas Heating?

If there’s no gas line where you live, you won’t be able to use gas. Plus, gas furnaces are more expensive than oil-burning types. Gas is also a less efficient fuel than oil, in that it creates fewer BTUs than an equal amount of oil.

When weighing the advantages of a gas vs. oil furnace, don’t forget that both are more efficient now than even a decade ago. Even though oil furnaces tend to be less efficient than gas models, the newer ones have an AFUE of between 80 and 90 percent.

If you need help deciding between a gas vs. oil furnace, contact us at HVAC Unlimited Heating and Air Conditioning. We provide service throughout Northern Virginia.

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