General Question

lillycoyote's avatar

Do you have any knowledge, information or experience regarding the various advantages and disadvantages of oil vs. propane vs. electric heating?

Asked by lillycoyote (24810points) June 17th, 2009

I’m building a small house (1000 sq ft.) and I need a heating system, of course. I’m not just necessarily interested in the cost to operate, and as volatile as fossil fuel prices are and probably will remain, it might be hard to predict the costs in the future but I am interested in initial costs to install the system, maintenance and repair, whether one is more clean burning given existing technology, etc. I have done some research on my own but there seems to be a lot of conflicting information out there. There are “boosters” for each system. Do any of you have any experience or any advice regarding one system over the other? The house is to be built in the mid-atlantic where we have four distinct seasons. It can get very cold in the winter but the house is relatively small. There is no natural gas hook up where I am building. I will need a propane hook up anyway because you would have to hold a gun to my head before I would cook on an electric range and I am leaning toward propane for the heating too, but I am hoping there are some of you out there with some real world experience.

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7 Answers

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Judi's avatar

First question should be, “where do you live?”
If there is a chance you will be doing solar in the future then I would go with electric.
Natural Gas is NOT an option?

augustlan's avatar

I have oil heat, and it is a pain in the ass IMHO. I’m pretty sure it is also the most expensive way to heat a house. It does make things toasty warm though! I’m not a big fan of electric heat… too dry. I’ve never had propane, but given your choices and the fact that you’ll already be installing a propane line, that’s what I’d choose.

ragingloli's avatar

Whatever you choose (I would go with electrical), you should make sure that your house has top notch insulation (walls, doors, roof, windows).

whatthefluther's avatar

Here is an Energy Calculator, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy. With this you can compare the annual operating cost of various heating systems as well as compare the cost of fuels for heating. Too bad you don’t have natural gas available…it burns cleanly and does not have the odor you get from heating oil and propane combustion. If you go with one of those, you will need periodic fuel deliveries, so include that cost in your comparison to electric heating. Good luck to you.

cwilbur's avatar

@augustlan: Electric heat generally comes in at 50% to 100% more expensive than oil heat, depending on your local electric prices and your local oil prices.

(I’m looking at condos, and having one be heated with electric heat and having an electric stove were enough to knock a really nice one off my list.)

lillycoyote's avatar

@whatthefluther, @augustlan and @cwilbur Thanks so much for the info and input.

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