Which type of fuel is most cost effective and energy efficient for home heating?
I need to replace our boiler. Currently we use oil to fuel the boiler, however at this point if there is another choice that would be more efficient not only in fuel usage but also on our pocketbook we would like to look into that. Any ideas, oil, propane, or electric? We currently have a baseboard heating system. We live outside of Binghamton NY. Not a lot of sun and it can get cold in the winter.
Answer from Green Energy Efficient Homes
The relative prices of fuel oil, propane, and electricity - your three choices unless you are able to get a natural gas line to your house - suggest that replacing your fuel oil boiler with a new high efficiency fuel oil boiler is the most economical option.
New York state has some of the highest electricity costs in the US, at $0.19 per kWh average, so heating with electricity is very expensive. Propane is typically more expensive than fuel oil per unit of heat produced because it has a lower thermal density and more challenging storage and shipping requirements.
The following table shows the estimated cost per million BTUs of the three heating options you can readily access in your situation. Note that if you are able to get a natural gas line in your cost will be about a third of the propane cost.
Cost per unit
Unit of measure
Units per 1 million BTU
Cost per 1 million BTU
Electricity in New York
As you can see the cost for electric heating is almost double the fuel oil cost, and the propane cost is about 30% higher. Old boilers are often quite inefficient but most current manufacturers offer boilers with efficiencies between 80% and 90% (meaning at most 20% of the heat goes out with the exhaust gases instead of into warming your home). I recommend going for the most efficient boiler you can find, since over time most energy costs are likely to increase.