From a consumer’s perspective, propane and heating oil may have many similarities. Both are delivered by truck and stored in tanks, both are liquid and burn well, without waste. There are however major differences between the two when it comes to heating your home.

propane_tankPropane was once very popular, thanks to the fact that it’s pure, clean and odorless, and it is delivered by truck – which means that the consumer could choose the cheapest supplier. Another reason for which many people switched to propane is the fact that it can be used for cooking, which is not the case with heating oil. Another applications of propane include barbecues, clothes dryers and fireplaces.

Propane is a highly explosive gas so propane tank can only be kept outdoors away from any objects, trees, car parking, driveways and any other objects that can catch fire or help spread it further. Heating oil is also stored in tanks, but is not explosive, it’s not even flammable under normal conditions. To help it burn, you need a nozzle which helps it turn into spray, so it’s practically impossible to have a fire originating from an oil furnace.

Some twenty years ago, propane furnaces were more efficient than oil ones and propane was overall a cleaner source of energy, which made many people switch to it, even some households that used natural gas previously switched to propane, as it was very cheap and had a very wide application. However, in the meantime oil heat technology advanced rapidly, so today’s heating oil has very low levels of sulfur, and is a clean source of energy. Nearly all heating oil is effectively incinerated in the burner’s combustion chamber, leaving only little water steam and carbon dioxide to the air. Thanks to its safety and low fire risk, heating oil can be stored in underground tanks, without taking up yard space, and giving you no worries about fire or explosion. Underground tanks also solve the problem of oil freezing or gelling during cold winter months. Underground tanks can leak, but proper tank maintenance effectively excludes any possibility of such a scenario. Other than cleaning your tank and checking it annually, you need to make sure there is no oil sludge, collection of bacteria which discharge acids and can speed up tank’s corrosion.

Heating oil is not only unbeatable in fire safety, it is also now burnt in high efficiency furnaces and boilers. Modern high efficiency oil heating systems have fuel usage level of 95% and more, making it at least as efficient as, if not more than propane.

Another thing which makes heating oil unbeatable is longevity of oil heating systems. A good furnace with proper maintenance can last 20 and more years. Propane systems start to lose their efficiency rapidly well after 15 years even with the best maintenance efforts.

With heating oil prices being so low, heating oil is currently the best choice for home heating.