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floatygirl 03-15-2009 12:22 PM

Oil heat vs. propane HELP!
I am a new homebuyer and I have always had gas heat. I am looking at a home that was listed as propane. However when I went to look at the home there was no propane tank in the yard. There was a pair of oil tanks in the basement, and there were hooked into the furnace. The furnace is forced air and is new as of 2004. I don't know much about either system, but I do have several concerns about the oil heat.
1. Is it smelly?
2. Is it messy?
3. Is there a lot of maintenance on the system, and is it costly?
4. Price versus propane?
I was considering switching the system to propane, does anyone have any experience with this? How much does it cost? Is it a huge pain to remove all of the old oil system? I am assuming the propane is much cleaner.

The home also has a woodburner that I am considering replacing with a pellet stove. Any thoughts on that? The heating system will be a deal maker or deal killer on my very first home so any help will be much appreciated. I feel like I am way in over my head here and completely overwhelmed. I am in this for the long haul and realize how important the heating system is going to be for future bill-paying.

yuri 03-15-2009 12:40 PM

Where do you live, city/state?

beenthere 03-15-2009 12:56 PM

Oil furnaces and boilers need to be cleaned every year to maintain their efficiency.

Propane is cleaner, but in many areas, its also more expensive to heat with.

While pellet stoves are nice. And can cost less to heat with then a standard wood stove, if they are direct vent.(both combustion exhaust, and combustion air intake direct from outside)

If your area is prone to power outages in winter.

A wood stove that doesn't require electric to operate is better.

floatygirl 03-15-2009 01:06 PM

Yuri, the house I am looking at is in the Casonovia Michigan area.

yuri 03-15-2009 01:55 PM

I would phone your Propane supplier, the oil company AND your electric utility. Most electric utilities will have an engineer on staff who can explain to you the cost per day to heat your house and compare all the fuels/types. Listen to Beenthere, he is very knowledgeable.

For an example:

Good Luck:thumbup:

dac122 03-16-2009 07:18 AM

Historically oil and propane have gone back and forth as being more expensive than one another, so its anyone's guess which will be more expensive in the future. Switching to propane will involve a complete replacement of your existing furnace or boiler and could run you several thousands. As mentioned someone local might have a better idea of the local grants from utilities and the various state and federal tax credits that combined might take a serious bite out of switching.

As for pellets versus wood:
  • In recent years wood has been cheaper on a per btu cost basis
  • pellet stoves are a pricey initial investment
  • wood stove require more cleaning
  • wood is very messy
  • wood requires more tending
  • pellets stove are pretty high tech these days leading to expensive repairs
  • pellets cannot be used during a power outage
  • pellets require a fair amount of dry storage space to hold the bags
  • pellets are very convenient
  • many pellet stoves can be hooked to a thermostat to provide even heat
To dig deeper into this subject I'd go to

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