home heating options connecticut

(Photo/Unsplash)

Weighing heating options for their efficiency, cost and environmental impact is important to many homeowners. We all want to ensure our warmth and comfort, but in a way that maximizes our dollars and spares the earth.

As such, one of the most common debates is whether Northeasterns should convert their heating oil systems to natural gas. 

The first question to ask is will it save you money in the long run?

The federal government’s 30% tax credit for upgrading to a high-efficiency furnace ended nearly a decade ago, and homeowners that didn’t jump on the credit may be left asking themselves if it’s still worth the effort. 

Let’s cover the differences in each heating source, from the BTU output, conversion costs and environmental impact to discover which fuel suits your home best.

BTU Output of Natural Gas Vs. Heating Oil

British thermal unit (BTU) is the most common way to measure a unit of heat in the United States. Specifically, BTUs measure the amount of energy needed to raise one pound of water 1°F at sea level. This measurement is a gauge for energy use, energy effectiveness, and heating system sizing. 

Simply put, the higher the BTU rating the more powerful, and higher heat output it has.

When comparing natural gas and heating oil, consider the following breakdown: 

Mathematically, heating oil contains more heat per BTUs than natural gas (and than most other fuels available on the market). Therefore, heating oil outputs more heat, making it the more efficient option of the two.

Environmental Impacts of Natural Gas Vs. Heating Oil

Heating oil is at its most efficient and environmentally-friendly state when used as bioheat. 

Bioheat is a blend of biodiesel and ultra-low sulfur heating oil. The advancement in fuel properties from heating oil is great news for Northeasterns, as the fuel can be used in your oil tank without any modifications to your tank or furnace. 

From an environmental standpoint, bioheat is notable because unlike natural gas, it’s a renewable fuel, and touts lower carbon emissions.

During the Paris Climate Change Convention in 2016, more than 200 nations agreed to limit carbon gasses that pollute the earth by promoting the use of renewable energy sources and low carbon options. Bioheat falls under the same category as wind and solar energy, which are all acknowledged as sources of renewable energy. 

Natural gas, on the other hand, falls into the same bracket as petroleum and coal, which are nonrenewable sources of energy, also known as fossil fuels. 

Methane losses from natural gas systems pose a significant problem for global warming as well. Methane is a greenhouse gas 21 times more dangerous than poisonous carbon dioxide. And, according to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, methane ranks amongst the worst of the greenhouse gases.

When considering the environmental impact between natural gas and biofuel, the heating oil option wins by a landslide.  

How much does it cost to convert to a natural gas system?

Homeowners considering the conversion from heating oil to natural gas need to estimate the cost to make the switch. The grand total will vary based on many factors, including:

However, according to CBS Boston, the switch can cost anywhere from $4,500 to  $7,000. New England Cable News increases the prices even more, stating conversions can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $10,000

Though there may be long-term savings with a natural gas conversion, the upfront cost, coupled with the environmental impact cause many homeowners pause. 

Should you switch to natural gas?

According to the Consumer Energy Council of America, this fuel conversion could be an “expensive gamble”.

Experts zero in on some of the dangers of natural gas as a caution to homeowners considering the switch:

Though every homeowner will need to weigh the pros and cons of natural gas and heating oil for themselves, it’s important to inform yourself on all aspects of the conversion.

Want to learn more about the difference between heating oil and natural gas? Check out the following resources:

The differences between natural gas and propane can be confusing. Especially because propane is one of the fuels that make up natural gas, the other fuels being butane, methane, ethane.

While propane is a part of natural gas, it becomes a unique source of fuel on its own when it’s separated during processing. So, let’s take a look at both fuels. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each, and which is best for a homeowner to use?

Head-to-Head Comparison: Pros and Cons of Propane and Natural Gas

When selecting a fuel for your home, it’s important to weigh its safety, the cost, how efficient the fuel is, and what the environmental impact is. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about the advantages and disadvantages of natural gas and propane, for each of the aforementioned considerations.

Safety

Both fuels are highly flammable and should be handled with care. But due to the infrastructure (and bureaucratic red tape) that comes with natural gas lines, leaks can be challenging to identify and fix. This is because utility companies and the public utility commission need to come to an understanding of how to fund repairs or upgrades before taking action.

And, when lines go unattended accidents happen.

For instance, in 2010 a natural gas line owned by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) exploded in San Bruno, Calif., killing eight people. After investigation, it was learned that the gas line was faulty, and PG&E was previously unaware of the line’s damage. 

Though propane tanks can also explode, it’s much less likely. And, because propane tanks aren’t connected by wide-spread gas lines, the impact is less significant. 

Furthermore, though some companies that supply natural gas add a scent like sulfur so that you can more easily detect a leak, natural gas leaks can be harder to detect because in its natural state the fuel is odorless. 

Due to the severity of a mishap, as rare as they may be, propane is deemed a safer heating fuel.

Environment

Even though natural gas is considered a greenhouse gas, it burns roughly 50% fewer emissions than coal. Still, it’s toxicity is higher than propane, which is not toxic or damaging to the environment. If propane were to leak into the ground, it would not harm the local water or soil.

That said, both are still considered eco-friendly fuels. But, for this round, we give propane a slight advantage as a green fuel.

Cost and Efficiency

The true cost of propane vs. natural gas for your residence will depend on several factors, including if your home is outfitted for the fuels. But, for this comparison, we’ll examine propane and natural gas cost in terms of BTUs and gallons.

At the time this article was written, the average cost of natural gas cost is $6.23 per 1,000 cubic feet, which is roughly one million BTUs. The U.S. average cost for propane is $2.41 per gallon. One million BTUs of natural gas is roughly 11.20 gallons of propane. Which means for the same amount of fuel, you’ll pay $6.23 for natural gas and $26.99 for propane.

However, actual cost should also take into consideration efficiency

The more efficient the fuel is, the less you’ll use, which plays a role in overall cost. And, overall, propane is the more efficient fuel.

One cubic foot of propane equals 2,516 BTUs, while one cubic foot of natural gas equals 1,030 BTUs. That means, propane is more than twice the energy of natural gas.

While the cost per gallon is less for natural gas, you’ll use more of it to heat the same appliances. If you get two times the heat from propane, naturally, you’ll use less fuel.

In this combined round, propane wins for efficiency and overall cost.

Installation

Key Differences Between Propane and Natural Gas

The most notable difference between the two fuels is how they wind up at your home, that is, how they’re delivered to you. To start, not every location in the United States has the option of either propane or natural gas. Depending on where you live, you may be restricted to only one option.

Additionally, how the fuel is stored at your home, and refilled, will be another differentiating factor.

Natural gas remains in its gaseous state and is delivered to the home through a pipeline, so deliveries aren’t required, but having the infrastructure in place to receive the fuel is. This infrastructure might include costs like:

These costs can rise to more than $10,000 for homeowners who need a complete conversion.

Propane comes in portable canisters or permanent storage tanks. To refill, customers will either go to a retail location themselves or turn to a company for delivery. For Santa Fuel customers, you can schedule automatic deliveries so that you’ll have fuel before your tank runs out, eliminating the hassle.

Which gas is right for you?

Propane

Because propane delivers more BTUs for your dollar, it’s often the choice fuel to run your home appliances more efficiently. It’s also typically better for cooking, especially if you utilize an outdoor barbeque, as it’s more cost-effective for high-heat grilling.

Additionally, propane is seen as an “off-the-grid” heating solution. Meaning propane is portable and can easily work if other systems in your house malfunction, or if you need to move to another location.  

Natural gas

Natural gas, on the other hand, is a hands-off solution. You’ll never need to schedule a delivery because natural gas will always be flowing to your home. And, you’ll never pay for more than what you use with natural gas because there isn’t any fuel stored in a tank. You pay as you go.

If you’re already equipped with the infrastructure, it makes sense to stick with natural gas.  

The ultimate winner will be whichever fits best into your lifestyle and current set up. Are you able to access both fuels, how much infrastructure would you need to implement to get either of the fuels and what do you plan to use your fuel for most?

Where to buy propane and natural gas?

If you’re in the Fairfield or New Haven areas in Connecticut, Santa Energy can help you assess which fuel makes the most sense for your home. Santa Energy is a dependable source for fuel delivery, equipment installation, maintenance, and ongoing support to ensure your home is maximizing energy, safely.

Check out our complete suite of propane and natural gas services.

natrual gas pros and cons connecticut

Natural gas for home appliances

Natural gas production has been rising since the economic crisis of 2008 with a compound annual growth rate of 2.6%. And in 2017, global natural gas production hit a record of 3.768 billion cubic meters. According to the Energy Information Administration, that production translates into more than 35% of Americans using natural gas as a source of fuel in their homes.

With the growing use of natural gas in the United States, what do you need to know about the advantages and disadvantages of this fossil fuel?

What is Natural Gas?

Natural gas is one of the three biggest fossil energy sources in the world today. The fuel develops deep beneath the earth’s surface from organic matter aged over millions of years. The largest component of natural gas is methane, though there are also traces of hydrocarbon gases and hydrocarbon gas liquids.

Cons of Natural Gas

Though there are benefits of natural gas, the drawbacks are considerable. Specifically when it comes to extracting, transporting, and maintaining infrastructure for the fuel.

Pros of Natural Gas

Now that we’ve gotten the drawbacks accounted for, let’s explore why a homeowner would consider natural gas.

Managing Natural Gas Properly

Natural gas provides access to a cleaner fossil fuel that is equally effective to other energy sources available. While there are certain hazards which we must account for when using this resource, if carefully managed, natural gas is one of the most viable and clean energy sources on earth.

And, there are things all homeowners can do to mitigate risk:

Santa Fuel has been a reliable and dependable source for Connecticut heating services for decades. Not only does Santa Fuel provide heating oil services, but we also perform energy audits to decrease your heating bills, and offer alternative heating solutions such as natural gas system installations, conversions, and repairs, and offer 24-hour tech service when you need us most.

Learn more about Santa’s top-of-the-line, energy-efficient natural gas systems, and services.