More types of home heating fuel are available today than many people realize. When most think of heating fuel, the two kinds that come to mind are electricity and natural gas. And, indeed, these are by far the most popular.
About 48% of U.S. homes today use natural gas while 37% use electricity. We’ll discuss these along with the remaining 15% of heating fuel types. What are the pros and cons of each?
If you’ve been thinking about changing fuel types for home heating, keep reading this article.
Types of Heating Fuel
This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. We hope it covers the main heating fuel types as well as some up and coming ones, though.
Natural gas is popular across all regions of the U.S. It is clean to burn and gas furnaces can be extremely energy-efficient. There’s also an abundant supply of it. Natural gas is less expensive than other types of heating fuel.
Unfortunately, natural gas emits greenhouse gases and other by-products. It also relies on expensive pipelines for transport. Furthermore, using it carries the risks of explosion and/or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Traditional electric furnaces tend to cost less upfront than those that run on gas or oil. However, electricity as a heating fuel costs more than gas over time.
It remains a popular energy source, though—perhaps because it’s already in people’s homes.
Electricity also operates heating pumps (see below). These have long been used in the south but now becoming popular in other regions.
Oil heating used to be very popular, and it continues to enjoy that popularity, especially in the northeastern U.S. The cost of oil heating is higher than that of electricity or natural gas.
Heating oil also needs to be stored in a large buried tank in the yard and is delivered by truck. However, oil heat burns 300º hotter than natural gas. It warms a home faster, using less fuel.
Click here if you’re looking for a good oil delivery company in the area west and northwest of Philadelphia.
Propane—also known as liquefied petroleum gas or LPG—is used mainly for homes that want gas for heating, but lack access to natural gas lines. It’s stored in a tank outside the home where it’s used. Propane costs more than natural gas.
Wood is mainly used in wood-burning fireplaces or stoves (especially pellet-burning stoves). Except in warmer climates, fireplaces and stoves tend to supplement a furnace as heating sources.
Solar heat has grown in popularity as more people move away from fossil fuels and solar panels and heating systems become better understood. The installation cost is competitive with furnaces, and government incentives are widely available.
Geothermal heat comes from the earth’s molten core and is extracted by a heat pump that uses it to heat a home and possibly water as well.
Underground reservoirs of steam and hot water can be tapped to heat and cool buildings. Unlike solar and wind energy, geothermal energy is always available.
For more information on how heat pumps process geothermal heat, go to this site.
As you can see, there’s a lot of variation among types of heating fuel. When you’re thinking about switching types, there are some things to consider, as follow:
- Cost to install the furnace or other heating apparatus
- Cost of the fuel over time
- Whether it’s a fossil fuel, like gas and oil, or has other troubling emissions or by-products
- How effectively it heats a home in the climate where you live
- How easy it will be to source the fuel itself as well as get service and replacement parts
You need to take your budget and household needs into account too. Remember, though, that whatever decision you make, you’ll be part of an international debate over issues affecting the climate. So give it some serious thought!