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Heating Oil vs. Propane in North East (Connecticut)


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#1 $poorsledder$

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 08:32 AM

I just bought a house and need to replace the mechanicals. Right now the furnace is oil/ forced air and the water is heated by an electric hot water heater. The house is about 1700 sq ft and built in 1974 (raised ranch).

I have a friend that is a heating contractor and he says it might be worth it to switch to propane. If this is the case I would purchase a propane stove and a dryer as well and have the furnace setup to accept central air.

From what I read oil gives you about 1/3 more BTU's but gas can be 98% efficient.

Right now all I want to know is which will cost less to heat the house and the water. If it's close and I can do a propane stove and dryer and save on electricity then I'd go with propane.

#2 1trailmaker

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 10:50 AM

If you asking if Propane is Cheaper to run then Oil the answer is yes
Natural Gas would be even cheaper
If you have to buy a new furnace anyway then I would make the effort to switch over to propane -
Only thing I don't like about propane is that big tank in the middle of your yard

Some newer Oil burners are pretty efficient but it still won't compare to propane

#3 machz1

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 10:55 AM

I just bought a house and need to replace the mechanicals. Right now the furnace is oil/ forced air and the water is heated by an electric hot water heater. The house is about 1700 sq ft and built in 1974 (raised ranch).

I have a friend that is a heating contractor and he says it might be worth it to switch to propane. If this is the case I would purchase a propane stove and a dryer as well and have the furnace setup to accept central air.

From what I read oil gives you about 1/3 more BTU's but gas can be 98% efficient.

Right now all I want to know is which will cost less to heat the house and the water. If it's close and I can do a propane stove and dryer and save on electricity then I'd go with propane.

while propane is a tad more efficient in the newer appliances (around 90-94% for propane and 80-85% for oil) the fuel is LESS efficient per the same unit, but the price per unit is also less so what you need to do is sit down calculate BTUs per hr used, price per unit and efficiency per unit. my guess right now is you will find that as long as both appliances (oil or propane boiler being fairly new) the cost will be roughly the same in the end.

#4 legend700

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:01 AM

while propane is a tad more efficient in the newer appliances (around 90-94% for propane and 80-85% for oil) the fuel is LESS efficient per the same unit, but the price per unit is also less so what you need to do is sit down calculate BTUs per hr used, price per unit and efficiency per unit. my guess right now is you will find that as long as both appliances (oil or propane boiler being fairly new) the cost will be roughly the same in the end.



that was my thought, propane like oil you really need to shop around for a good deal and buy bulk when you can in the summer to save if your going to do spot buys.

#5 s pump

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:06 AM

that was my thought, propane like oil you really need to shop around for a good deal and buy bulk when you can in the summer to save if your going to do spot buys.

Where in Ct? Propane is pretty much for remote areas in Ct and never a good deal, Nat Gas and oil are about equal in the long run. Both have had big run ups but oil usually is available off peak and you can have up to 660 gallons in house and unlimited outside......my choice is oil........ :beer_cheers:

#6 $poorsledder$

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:08 AM

Is it true I can buy my own tank? Will suppliers compete for a homeowner?

Typical deal around here is the tank is provided by a supplier and you are forced to buy just from them.

#7 machz1

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:08 AM

Where in Ct? Propane is pretty much for remote areas in Ct and never a good deal, Nat Gas and oil are about equal in the long run. Both have had big run ups but oil usually is available off peak and you can have up to 660 gallons in house and unlimited outside......my choice is oil........ :beer_cheers:

i like oil too just from an energy standpoint. also i dont have to worry as much about broken/ leaking gas lines. :beer_cheers:

#8 COPO

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:09 AM

Where in Ct? Propane is pretty much for remote areas in Ct and never a good deal, Nat Gas and oil are about equal in the long run. Both have had big run ups but oil usually is available off peak and you can have up to 660 gallons in house and unlimited outside......my choice is oil........ :beer_cheers:

My choice is oil also. I fill the tank every 18 months or so. use it just for H.W. and pellets for the winter.

#9 machz1

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:10 AM

Is it true I can buy my own tank? Will suppliers compete for a homeowner?

Typical deal around here is the tank is provided by a supplier and you are forced to buy just from them.

yes you can, just keep in mind YOU are responsible for upkeep and maintenance and will be the one who has to replace it in the long run. i think its still cheaper to own your own stuff even if you had to replace it every 15-20 yrs.

#10 Im4snow

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:12 AM

I just bought a house and need to replace the mechanicals. Right now the furnace is oil/ forced air and the water is heated by an electric hot water heater. The house is about 1700 sq ft and built in 1974 (raised ranch).

I have a friend that is a heating contractor and he says it might be worth it to switch to propane. If this is the case I would purchase a propane stove and a dryer as well and have the furnace setup to accept central air.

From what I read oil gives you about 1/3 more BTU's but gas can be 98% efficient.

Right now all I want to know is which will cost less to heat the house and the water. If it's close and I can do a propane stove and dryer and save on electricity then I'd go with propane.


Oil produces about 140k btu's per gallon, vs. propanes 90k btu's per gal. So you get about 50% more heat from a gal of oil as you do propane. But, you really have to evaluate cost per btu of delivered heat, and this calculation includes the efficiency of the appliance, price of the fuel, and the fuel's BTU/gal.

Assuming recent prices ($3.5/gal of oil, and $2.5/gal of propane).....AND assuming an oil furnace that is 82% efficient vs a propane furnace that is 95% efficient, the cost per btu of heat, using those assumptions, is roughly equal today.

If interested I can email you a spreadsheet that allows you to enter fuel costs, efficiency assumptions, etc and you can model different scenarios.

Another consideration.....where is the current oil tank located, and how old is it? If its original, its probably worth replacing before it leaks.....and a new intalled tank, properly piped, isn't cheap.

Finally, would a new oil furnace require your existing chimney be relined? If so, it requires a stainless steel liner and that would be one cost you could avoid if going to a 95% efficient propane furnace.

Finally, I'd consider dual fuel.....a heatpump with propane back up. In CT you have high electricity rates, making a HP relatively less advantageous.....but the upside is a dual fuel set up like described diversifies your "fuel" source....so if propane spikes in price you have a little hedge.

Lots of considerations......and I'm doing this for a customer right now. Long story short, I'm going to propose they go dual fuel (hybrid) HP and propane backup forced air, and get rid of the old tanks in their basement before one leaks.

#11 ProV1IA

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:12 AM

Is it true I can buy my own tank? Will suppliers compete for a homeowner?

Typical deal around here is the tank is provided by a supplier and you are forced to buy just from them.



You can buy your own tank; however, the typical arrangement is to lease one from your LP supplier. If you want to change suppliers, you're changing tanks--not the most convenient of things.

A few things to know about propane if you've never had it:

Don't run out of fuel. If you do, your LP guy will be required to do a leak check and is required to re-light any pilot lights. So, keep an eye on your tank.

Keep-full contracts can bite you in the ass, especially if you exceed what you have bought and there's a big disparity between your contracted price and cash price.

Take advantage of summer-fill programs.

#12 Im4snow

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:14 AM

Is it true I can buy my own tank? Will suppliers compete for a homeowner?

Typical deal around here is the tank is provided by a supplier and you are forced to buy just from them.


Same here. I haven't shopped for a tank in while, but they're not cheap.

#13 $poorsledder$

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:18 AM

Where in Ct? Propane is pretty much for remote areas in Ct and never a good deal, Nat Gas and oil are about equal in the long run. Both have had big run ups but oil usually is available off peak and you can have up to 660 gallons in house and unlimited outside......my choice is oil........ :beer_cheers:



Bethany, CT....... between Waterbury and New Haven. No natural gas running down the street.

The last house I owned we had two 330 tanks in the basement and I would call around and offer to pay cash. Oil dealers liked my location because it was on the way to New Haven to pick up oil.

I'm sitting down with heating contractor this week and we are going to go over oil vs propane. He seems to think that propane might be a better deal for me.

#14 a.c freedom

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:22 AM

propane would be worth it just to get rid of the electric water heater

#15 legend700

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:23 AM

You can buy your own tank; however, the typical arrangement is to lease one from your LP supplier. If you want to change suppliers, you're changing tanks--not the most convenient of things.

A few things to know about propane if you've never had it:

Don't run out of fuel. If you do, your LP guy will be required to do a leak check and is required to re-light any pilot lights. So, keep an eye on your tank.
Keep-full contracts can bite you in the ass, especially if you exceed what you have bought and there's a big disparity between your contracted price and cash price.

Take advantage of summer-fill programs.



really I've run mine out at camp a few times, they come out fill it and I kick the heater back on. Fortuantely I've caught it once before it caused an issue, second time I had to rip out a wall and replace a bunch of piping.

#16 machz1

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:29 AM

propane would be worth it just to get rid of the electric water heater

you could do the same with oil.

#17 $poorsledder$

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:33 AM

propane would be worth it just to get rid of the electric water heater



If I go with oil I would probably do domestic off the furnace or an electric "hot water on demand" unit.

Right now I need all new mechanicals so I'm trying to figure out what is the best way to go.


My parents had propane and did not use much. The price was based on consumption and he would get raped sometimes on the price.

#18 olskool53

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:34 AM

Bethany, CT....... between Waterbury and New Haven. No natural gas running down the street.

The last house I owned we had two 330 tanks in the basement and I would call around and offer to pay cash. Oil dealers liked my location because it was on the way to New Haven to pick up oil.

I'm sitting down with heating contractor this week and we are going to go over oil vs propane. He seems to think that propane might be a better deal for me.


Your close to me, who knew? I'd stick with oil. The one cost that most do not look at is the corrosive effect to the equipment. A good quality oil burner if serviced properly can give you 20+ years of trouble free service. You would be lucky to get 10 out of a propane furnace. Check around because some of these big companies will sell you the furnace for cost just to get your oil business. FTR I service your area, so if you need well work or water conditioning call me. :bc:

#19 ProV1IA

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:34 AM

really I've run mine out at camp a few times, they come out fill it and I kick the heater back on. Fortuantely I've caught it once before it caused an issue, second time I had to rip out a wall and replace a bunch of piping.



I'm not sure if it's an insurance thing or it's the law here in IA. However, I've worked for two cooperatives now that have energy departments, and they both have policies in place for out-of-gas calls, both of which involve leak checks. The purpose behind that is that if someone is out of gas, what caused it? Did they just run out, or did it leak away? Propane is the last thing you'd want to re-introduce to a leaky system.

#20 $poorsledder$

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 12:16 PM

Your close to me, who knew? I'd stick with oil. The one cost that most do not look at is the corrosive effect to the equipment. A good quality oil burner if serviced properly can give you 20+ years of trouble free service. You would be lucky to get 10 out of a propane furnace. Check around because some of these big companies will sell you the furnace for cost just to get your oil business. FTR I service your area, so if you need well work or water conditioning call me. :bc:



I will do some work down the road (holding tank). I usually go with Barlow's out of Wolcott but I'd give you the work.




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