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Oil vs Propane Furnaces

Without a natural gas source, most homeowners turn to either propane gas or oil furnaces for their heating needs. When replacing an older furnace, it is possible to consider switching to a different fuel type, though most homeowners stay with what they already have. To make a change, a number of variables must be considered:

Cost of the Fuel:

Predicting fuel costs over the life a furnace is difficult, if not impossible, given the fluctuation in prices over the last several years. Generally, both oil and gas are less expensive than electricity. Determining which of gas or oil is more cost effective depends, in part, on what the costs are where you live.

Cost of Furnace:

In most installations by a professional contractor, the cost of the furnace is bundled into the total cost. Some high efficiency furnaces -- both oil and gas - are eligible for tax rebates or other incentive programs. A HVAC professional can provide information about the options in your area.

Advantages of Propane:

Propane gas heats quickly and is thought to be more environmentally friendly than heating oil. Propane, when burned, does not produce significant carbon dioxide; propane is approved as a "clean fuel" by the US Government.

Advantages of Oil:

Oil burns hotter than gas so it heats up faster and is used up more slowly than gas. Oil is thought to be safer than gas because it is not combustible in the air and does not create carbon monoxide fumes. Modern oil furnaces are clean, quiet and unlike the ones of the past.

Energy Efficiency:

The market offers energy efficient models for both oil and propane gas fuel sources. A standardized rating system, known as the Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency percentage (AFUE), exists to communicate energy efficiency to consumers. The higher the AFUE, the more efficiently the unit will burn fuel. Typically, high efficiency models are worth the extra expense if homeowners plan to live in their home for more than 4 years, live in colder climates, or are concerned about their environmental footprint.

Purchasing an Oil or Propane Furnace:

A variety of propane gas furnaces are available through the Goodman line. Depending on the energy efficiency rating, the purchase may qualify for tax credits. Inquire with your vendor about the benefits currently available to consumers. Westinghouse offers both standard and variable speed oil furnaces in high efficiency models. In addition, new model oil furnaces may incorporate bio-diesel mixes as environmentally friendly fuel alternatives. Inquire with your local contractors to find out if these models are available near you.

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