Alternative heating sources (C) Carson Dunlop Associates Tables Comparing Current Home Heating Costs for Oil, LP & Natural Gas, Electricity, Firewood in the U.S.

  • HEATING COST FUEL & BTU COST TABLES - CONTENTS: A comparison of heating costs by fuel type - latest data comparing home heating costs by propane gas, No. 2 home heating oil, electricity, and natural gas. Cost per 1000 BTUs for Home Heating Oil, Natural Gas, Electricity, Firewood, Propane, Pellet Stove Fuel, or Coal. Cost per thousand BTUs & cost per million BTUs for Home Heating Oil, Natural Gas, Electricity, Firewood, Propane, Pellet Stove Fuel, Coal. Comparing heating system efficiencies; other heating cost factors. History of changes in estimates of U.S. Oil & Gas Reserves
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about comparable costs of different types of heating fuels

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Heating fuel cost comparisons:

This article provides tables comparing current & historic home heating cost for different energy sources: home heating oil, electricity, natural gas, coal, pellet stove fuel, and firewood in the United States.

We compare home heating cost per thousand (or million) BTUs for these different fuels.

We provide tables listing current costs of various building heating fuels, historical heating fuel costs, including heating costs for coal and propane heaters, efficiency of different types of heating equipment, other costs associated with each type of heating system, and links to articles on how to reduce heating costs.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved.

A Comparison of Current Energy Costs: Heating Oil, Natural Gas, Firewood, Electricity

We also include formulas to adjust our current heating cost calculations to local prices in your area, and we provide links to energy cost sources, predictions of changes in energy costs, and to articles explaining how to save on home heating costs through heating system adjustments and service, insulation, stopping drafts, etc. Sketches in this article are courtesy Carson Dunlop Associates.

Heating Cost Predictions by the US EIA - recent history of predicted & actual heating fuel prices

U.S. Home Heating Residential Fuel Prices 2014-2015 [1]

Fuel Type Recent Price (USD) Units Source & comments
Natural gas prices $10.21 [1] K CuFt [2] U.S. E.I.A. 49% of homes use natural gas
No. 2 home heating oil $2.80 US Gallon U.S. E.I.A. 6% of homes use NO. 2 oil
LPG/Propane Price $1.83 US Gallon U.S. E.I.A. 6% of homes use propane
Electricity prices $0.1246 (12.46 cents) KWH [3] U.S. E.I.A. 4% of homes heat with electricity
Firewood price $230 Full Cord Web survey of vendors Feb 5 2015. 2% of U.S. homes heat primarily by wood
      1% of homes use other heating methods
Pellet Fuel $5.22 40 Lb Bag Walmart Price quoted 5 Feb 2015. U.S. Tractor Supply quotes $5.29
Coal $53. -> $11.55 Ton U.S. E.I.A., Coal prices range by area and coal type, including coal SO2 levels. BTUs per ton also varied from 12.5K BTU/pound to 8.8K BTU/pound where prices roughly also track BTU differences.


Readers can use these updated fuel prices to re-calculate numbers in other heating fuel costs discussed in detail in the article below.

[1] Prices are as of 5 Feb 2015 except that propane gas prices from the EIA are as of June 2014 and Electricity prices are as of November 2014.

[2] K CuFt = Thousand Cubic Feet of natural gas

[3] KWH = Kilowatt Hour of electricity

  • Coal prices (2015): Coal prices were quoted by the US EIA for 5 different sources, types, BTUs per ton and SO2 level at prices ranging from a high of $63.15 for Northern Appalachia coal (13,000 BTU) to $11.55 for Powder River Basin Coal (8,800 BTU) per ton of coal as of 30 January 2015. The BTU data is per pound of coal. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, USEIA, retrieved 5 Feb 2015, original source The US EIA cites their source for this data as SNL Energy, used with permission.
  • No. 2 home heating oil price (2015): The recent history of No. 2 home heating oil is shown by the chart below. As of early February 2015 the average price per gallon in the U.S. for No. 2 Heating Oil was about $2.80 USD per gallon. - Source: US EIA cited below.
  • LPG/Propane Price (2015): The average price for residential propane gas or LPG in the U.S. in early February 2015 was reported as $1.83 USD per gallon. Source: USE
  • Natural Gas prices (Nov. 2014): average residential price was $10.21 per thousand cubic feet - Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, USEIA, retrieved 5 Feb 2015, original source
  • Electricity prices (2014): the average price for residential electricity in the U.S. (data to Nov. 2014) was 12.46 cents ($0.1246 USD) per kilowatt hour or KWH with prices ranging from a low of $0.0874 USD in North Dakota to a high of $0.3506 in Hawaii. - Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, USEIA, retrieved 5 Feb 2015, original source
  • Firewood price (2015): typical prices for a full cord of firewood in the Northeastern U.S. in February 2015 was around $230. USD. Source: limited web survey by of sources advertising firewood for sale, 5 Feb 2015.
  • Pellet fuel (2015): typical prices found by web survey of large pellet fuel vendors ranged from about $5.22 to $5.30 USD per 40 pound bag of pellets for pellet stoves. - Source: limited web survey by 5 Feb 2015

Note: these prices will vary by individual geographic area or market.

History of No. 2 Home Heating Oil Prices - residential price

History of home heating oil prices USA

[Click to enlarge any image]

Source: U.S. Energy Administration, U.S. Weekly No. 2 Heating Oil Residential Price in dollars per gallon, retrieved 5 Feb 2015, original source:

History of LPG or Propane Prices in the U.S. - residential price

History of propane fuel prices in the U.S. through Feb 2015

[Click to enlarge any image]

Source: U.S. Energy Administration, U.S. Weekly U.S. Propane Residential Price in dollars per gallon, retrieved 5 Feb 2015, original source:

Percentages of U.S. Homes Using Different Heating Fuels

Currently in the U.S. about

  • 49% of homes are heated by natural gas,
  • 6% by heating oil or "fuel oil",
  • 5% by LP gas or propane,
  • 4% by electricity,
  • 2% by wood and
  • 1% by other means (such as heat pumps or solar heating).

- 2011 data - Source: Buildings Energy Data Book 2011, 2.1.1 Residential Primary Energy Consumption, by Year and Fuel Type (Quadrillion Btu and Percent of Total).

Increasing Home Heating Fuel Prices: 2012

By January 2012, the price of home heating oil had risen well above the price of natural gas as a heating fuel, though it remaind below the price of propane (LP gas). For homes in the Northeastern United States for the winter of 2011-2012, the New York Times reported that the average winter heating cost for a home would be a summarized in our list below. The NY Times indicated that the gap between gas and oil prices was expected to continue to widen.[1]

  • Propane gas: $2,723
  • Heating oil: $2,383
  • Electric heat: $1,337 [Note that this figure will vary widely by variation in area electricity rates]
  • Natural gas: $951. [Note that natural gas is not available to homes located in rural and many other areas]

Typical Home Heating Fuel Prices: 2009 and 2008

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Average household expenditures for all space-heating fuels are projected to be $1,137 this winter (October 1 to March 31), a 15-percent increase over the estimated $986 spent last winter.  The largest increases will be in households using heating oil and natural gas.

The projected increases primarily reflect higher prices, although colder weather than last winter will also contribute to higher fuel use in many areas. During 2008, the cost of natural gas and coal for electric utilities is projected to be 36 percent higher and 12 percent higher, respectively, than last year.

As electricity providers continue to pass along these increased costs, U.S. residential electricity prices are expected to grow by 6.2 percent this year and 9.4 percent in 2009.  Price increases are expected to be especially pronounced in the Middle and South Atlantic regions."

Table Comparing Latest Home Heating Energy Costs in the U.S. for Oil, Gas, Wood, Electricity

Heat content of oil, gas and wood fuels (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

Below beginning at Table 1 we give Comparisons of Current vs Previous Home Heating Costs per BTUh by Fuel Type in the United States. First let's look at some basic facts about heating fuel properties.

The heat content of a gallon of home heating oil, a cubic foot of natural gas, and a cubic foot of firewood are compared in Carson Dunlop's sketch.

To make sense of these numbers we also need to include an estimate of the relative costs of these fuels [see table below] - with the warning that energy costs vary widely by geographic area, using firewood is a bad idea in some areas where wood is not plentiful nor renewable, and energy content and efficiency of heating appliances can vary widely too.

Look at heating equipment state of tune, heating efficiency and building heat loss rates, not just fuel cost

The efficiency of delivery of heat into the living area of a building varies widely depending on the heating equipment and heat distribution system design. If 50 % of the heat produced by a fuel we are using goes up the chimney rather than into our building, our heating efficiency is just 50%, and regardless of our fuel cost we are probably spending too much on heat. A heating furnace that is 85% efficient is delivering 85 cents of heat into the building for every dollar spent on heating fuel.

Some "heating" methods are so inefficient that they are not recommended. For example, attempting to heat an older home with an open fireplace is likely to draw so much fireplace combustion air into the building that the home operates at a net heat loss when operating the fireplace even though right in front of the fireplace we feel warm.

Have your heating system inspected, cleaned, and tuned. When servicing oil heating systems we often found that the efficiency of a dirty, poorly tuned oil boiler or furnace might be as low as 60% or even worse. But thorough cleaning and tuning of the same system would bring older equipment up to aroudn 78% efficient (a 30% reduction in heating costs) and on newer higher efficiency systems we could see efficiencies in the low 90% range.

Factors Considered in Calculating building Heating Cost

Back in 1971 Hank Spies (Small Homes Council)[2] pointed out that estimating the seasonal cost of heating fuel is complicated because actual building heating cost depends on a collection of variables besides just the cost of the fuel, including:

  • The building heat loss rate
  • Efficiency of the heating system in use
  • Variations in the efficiency of the heating system in use as a function of outdoor or indoor conditions. See our discussion of heat pump operating efficiency & cost variables in note (7) to Table 4 below.[2]
  • The building occupancy level, times, etc (people emit heat)
  • Solar orientation of the building
  • Usage of other heat-producing activities such as cooking, hot water making, appliances, even lighting
  • Variations in fuel price that may occur as a function of the volume of fuel purchased

In comparing heating fuel costs Spies noted that we have to assume that we are comparing homes operating under the idential conditions. Where heating fuel cost varies as a function of the volume purchased, one must also use the average purchase price for that individual building - which can be tricky to know when preparing general tables comparing fuel costs.

See HEAT LOSS in BUILDINGS to consider the effects of building heat loss rate on home heating costs.

See HEATING COST SAVINGS METHODS for expert advice on how to significantly reduce your home heating costs.

Look at hidden heating costs not just heating efficiency and heating fuel costs

If changing from one heating fuel to another means you also have to install new heating equipment, fuel storage tanks, piping, heat distribution pipes or ducts, or perhaps build a chimney for a new woodstove, then be sure to consider the cost of those items when comparing heating fuel costs. In the 1970's we heated our home with "free" firewood from a state forest, but we had to buy a truck, chain saw, woodstove, and chimney as well.

Table 1 - Comparisons of Current vs Previous Home Heating Costs per BTUh by Fuel Type in the United States

Our calculations and formulas are shown below so that readers can plug in local fuel costs to calculate local cost per 1000 BTUs of energy for their building.

It's inaccurate to only compare heating fuel costs if you want to know how much it may cost to heat your building among alternative fuels.

Table 1 - Heating Fuel Costs per BTU, 2012 vs Earlier Years: Comparison of Current Energy Costs per BTU for Heating Oil, Natural Gas, Firewood, Pellet Stove Fuel, Propane, Coal

Heating Fuel Heat Content in BTUs
Unit Cost

Cost /K (thousand) BTUs
Multiply by 1000
for M

Notes on Formulas & Fuels
Home Heating Oil
140,000 BTUs/Gal
HC = 140

$3.93 - $4.11/ gal - 2012 (New York)

$2.89 - 2010 (New York)

$2.00/gal - 2009

UC = 2.00

$3.17 - 2012

$2.95 - 2012 (Fairbanks)

$1.42 - 2009


Price varies by time, season, economy, loca

Efficiency of heating appliances typically varies between 65% and 90% depending on level of maintenance and design variations

Natural Gas
1029 BTUs/Cu. Ft.
HC = 1.029

Natural Gas residential Price Per 1000 CuFt

$12.00 - 2011

$15.00 - 2009

$11.41 - 2004

$9.63 - 2003

UC = 0.7

$2.60 - 2012 NY



Price varies by time, season, economy, locale. In Fairbanks AK in 2012 1000 BTUs of natural gas cost about $2.30.

2007 U.S. average cost was $15.24./1000 cuft

Natural gas is usually metered in CCF (hundreds of cubic feet) of consumption.

1 million BTUs of natural gas is provided by about 971 cubic feet, or roughly 1 thousand BTUs of natural gas is provided by 1 cubic foot.

250 CCF of natural gas contains about the same BTUs as 190 gallons of No.2 home heating oil.

Residential natural gas prices vary from 50% to 300% of wholesale gas price

Firewood 150,000 BTUs/Cu. ft.
HC = 150

$75/face cord - 2009

UC = 6.46/Cu. ft.

$5.37 - 2012 (Fairbanks)

4.30 cents - 2009


BTUs vary by wood type, condition, design of wood heater. A face cord is 4' x 8' x 16" of wood tightly stacked = 42.6 cu. ft.
About $50./face cord in Dec 2008 in MN
A full cord 4' x 4' x 8' = 128 Cu. ft.
about $150. in Dec 2008 in MN, more in NYC

Electricity 3413 BTUs / KWH
HC = 3.413
$0.11/KWH - 2009

UC = 0.11
$0.32 - 2009
100% [In the home] 1 KWH = 3413 BTUs.
Cost/1000 BTUs = $0.11 / 3.413 = .032258

91,330 BTUs per gallon (US DOE)

91,600 BTUS per gallon (AGA)

$2.86/gal - 2012

$2.30/gal - 2009

$3.13 - 2012

$4.44 - 2012 (Fairbanks)



Propane fuel prices vary by geographic area. For example $ 0.0443/kbtus in Fairbanks - 2012

1 gallon of propane gas contains 91,330 BTUs
Cost / 1000 BTUs of propane heat =
$2.86 / 91.3 = .03

1 Gallon of liquid propane produces 36.38 cu.ft. of vapor (gas) at 60 °F.

Pellet Stove Fuel

8200 BTUs/pound
HC = 8.2

Some sources claim 6950 BTUs/pound or 13.9 mbtuh/ton

$295./ton - 2012 (Fairbanks)

$225 / Ton - 2009

$2.16 - est 2012 (Fairbanks)



$225. per ton of pellet fuel, iin 2009, unchanged in 2012; 70% efficient. 50 40-pound bags per ton, or 60 40-pound bags per skid. -2009 or up to $295./ton - 2012 Fairbanks

One bag of pellet fuel burns for 24 hours in a typical pellet stove. @ $225 / 2000 (pounds per ton) = 11.25 cents / pound.

One ton of wood pellets provides about 13.9 million BTUs or 13.9m/2000= 6950/pound

Coal 16 million BTUs/ton or 8,000 BTUs/pound $180l/ton - 2012 (New York) $266./ton - 2012 (Fairbanks) $1.10 est - 2012 70%

Coal prices vary by geographic location as well as by sizes such as nut or pea coal.
Assuming xx-sized coal for use in coal stoves used as interior heat source, not coal fired furnaces or boilers which use pea coal.

One ton of coal provides about 16 million BTUs.

Wood, firewood  

$170./cord - 2012 hardwood

$130./cord - 2012 softwood

$250./cord (Fairbanks 2012)

$1.20 est. - 2012 70%

Cost per cord of firewood varies very widely by location.

BTUs in firewood varies by wood species; One cord of dry white birch firewood contains about 20.3 million BTUs

Heating efficiency of burning wood varies enormously and can be "negative" if burned for "heat" in open fireplaces

Formulas Used [1]


Heat Content in BTUs for the measure shown


Unit Cost for heating fuel for the units shown at left

Cost per 1000 BTUs

(UC / HC)
* factor

factor usually =100 but may vary dependign on the units shown at HC

Average burning efficiency for the fuel (varies by equipment design and state of tune, and does not consider building heat loss rate)

Unit Cost (UC)__ x 100 = Heat Cost per 1000 BTUs
Heat Content (HC)

See notes above for specific fuels.


Thanks to reader R.M. for technical critique on errors in decimal placing on costs of electricity and BTUs delivered by electric heat. January 2015

Heating Fuel CostData Sources

2012 home heating oil prices: New York State, NYSERDA, web search 02/24/2012, original source:

2012 and other natural gas residential prices for natural gas: NYSERDA, op cit. and U.S. DOE Energy Information Administration

2012 Propane heating costs: U.S Energy Information Administration EIA, web search 02/24/2012, original source:

Gas and oil and wood prices from various sources listed below including the U.S. Energy Information Administration - October 2008 data.

Efficiency warning: this table does not (yet) reflect the differences in efficiency of various types of heating equipment, nor do we reflect the enormous differences among buildings insulation and draft proofing condition, nor differences in the set temperatures to which people adjust their thermostats.

[1] How do we calculate fuel cost per thousand BTUs: In the boxes of our table above, we note in smaller font the HC and UC values computed to assure that the scale is the same in both heat content and unit cost before calculating the cost per thousand BTUs in cents.

A BTU (British Thermal Unit) is a measure of heat energy defined as the quantity of heat that would be required to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

Since we convert all of our fuel costs into cost per 1000 BTUs we can then make an "apples to apples" comparison among fuels. See HEAT LOSS: How to Calculate Heat Loss in a Building for more details.

Unit Cost (UC)__ x 100 = Heat Cost per 1000 BTUs
Heat Content (HC)

(We multiply (UC / HC) x 100 to express our final number in "cents" per 1000 BTUs just for ease of reading.)

Example - heating oil cost per 1000 BTUs: for No. 2 home heating oil, to obtain the heating oil cost per thousand BTUs, we divide 3.71 (cost per gallon) by 140 (thousands of BTUs in a gallon).     (3.71 / 140) x 100 = 2.65 cents per 1000 BTUs of oil heat

Example - propane cost per 1000 BTUs:

Example - natural gas cost per 1000 BTUs:

Example - electricty cost per 1000 BTUs: for Electric heat, to obtain the electricity cost per thousand BTUs, we divide .11 (cost per KWH) by 3.413 (thousands of BTUs in one KWH). Incidentally, FYI the number of KWH needed to provide 1000 BTUs of electric heat = 1 / 3.413 or 0.29 KWH.      (0.11 / 3.413) x 100 = 3.22 cents per 1000 BTUs of electric heat

Contact Us by email to suggest content additions or corrections to this table comparing building heating fuel costs.

Table 2 - 1982 Heating Fuel Cost per BTU

Heating costs became a great concern to Americans during the 1973 oil embargo when home heating oil costs soared from 1972 prices of $ 0.20 per gallon to a new high of $1.73 a gallon in 1973. Homeowners rushed to find alternative ways to keep warm. Some people tried heating with wood (the author); portable kerosene heaters became popular (and very dangerous when not properly used, leading to fires and deaths).

Coal stoves, and solar energy saw renewed interest. About a decade later in 1982 debate continued among energy suppliers about whose fuel was most cost-efficient. Oil heating companies argued that electricity was the most costly way to heat a home; electric companies rebutted that heat pumps were efficient. Coal and woodstoves improved in energy efficiency and ease of use. In the Hudson Valley area of New York State coal usage increased at one coal dealer from 40 customers and 1000 tons in 1980 to 600 customers and 3000 tons of coal in 1982.

Tables 2 and 3 below provide comparable heating cost data for 1982. In 1982 we suggested and currently in 2008 we still recommend that people wanting to save on home heating costs start by making their home properly insulated and sealed against drafts.

Table 2 - Cost of Fuels per Million BTUs of Heat (U.S.)

Heating Fuel
(Dutchess County NY)
1982 Cost per Million BTU of usable heat
Natural Gas
Propane Gas

1. Poughkeepsie Journal, 11/28/1982

Table 3 - Comparison of the Cost of Heating Fuels with Efficiency of the Heating Devices that Use Them

The basic cost of heating fuel per BTU is not enough data to determine the most cost efficient way to heat a home because even with a lower-cost fuel in hand, if the efficiency of the heating equipment is low you may be sending a high portion, up to 50%, of your heating fuel dollars up the chimney instead of into the building.

For example, because an indoor kerosene heater requires extra combustion air to avoid potentially fatal carbon monoxide hazards, some folks tried increasing the safety of their heater by leaving a window open.

But drawing more cold air into the building can result in a net increase in heating cost. (Portable kerosene heaters may be both unsafe and illegal for indoor heating use - check with your local fire officials and building officials.)

Table 3 - Heating Fuel Cost vs Heater Efficiency Data

Heating Fuel
Fuel Unit Cost
Efficiency (1)
Heat Content in BTUs for Fuels 1982 Cost / 1000 BTUs
$0.72 / Cu. ft.
$92.00 / cord
50% 150,000 BTUs/Cu. ft. $0.005
$132.00 /ton 60%

16200000 - 26000000 BTUs/Ton
8100 to 13000 BTUs/Pound

$1.33 / gallon 90% (2) 135,000 BTUs/Gal $0.009
Natural Gas
$0.80 / 100 Cu. ft. 65% 1029 BTUs/Cu. ft.
Home Heating Oil
$1.27 / gallon 70% 140,000 BTUs/Gal $0.009
$0.93 / gallon 65% 91,000 BTUs/Gal $0.010
$0.105 cents/KWH 100% 3413 BTUs / KWH $0.031
Pellet Stove   70%    
Coal Stove   ??    
Electric Heat Pump
$0.105 cents/KWH     $0.015 (3)

1. These efficiency factors were calculated as the percentage of energy extracted from the fuel (compared with the amount of energy in the fuel itself).

If a heating appliance were 100% efficient, 100% of the heat energy in a given unit of heating fuel would be extracted by the heater and delivered to the heat distribution system (hot water baseboards, radiators, warm air supply ducts, electric heating baseboards). What the table and data also do not reflect are efficiency losses in the heating distribution system itself, such as leaky air ducts or improperly routed hot water heating pipes. -- DF.

2. This data is for un-vented kerosene heaters (a safety concern).

3. Central Hudson Gas and Electric estimate, 11/28/1982

Table 4 - Other Fuel Cost Factors that should be Weighed When Comparing Home Heating Costs

In addition to comparing the current cost per BTU of heating fuels in your area (Table 1), and comparing the relative efficiencies with which your heater converts the BTUs to heat delivered into the building (Table 3), we also need to consider other costs associated with each fuel including those listed below:

Table 4 - Delivery, Storage, Maintenance, Risk Costs for Heating Fuel Alternatives

Heating Fuel Delivery Cost
Storage Cost / Space Maintenance Cost Risk Cost
Wood Varies (2) Yes Woodstove & Chimney cleaning
Safety inspection & safe chimneys important, Building & chimney fire risk, Insect attack on building risk from stored wood (6)
Coal None (1) Yes (3) Safety inspection & safe chimneys important (6)
Kerosene Low Minor in small quantities Low Fire Risk, Carbon monoxide risk, Asphyxiation risk
Natural Gas None None Low: heater maintenance (4) Safety inspection & safe chimneys important (6)
Home Heating Oil None (1) Minor
Moderate: heater maintenance (4) Safety inspection & safe chimneys important,
Oil tank leaks can lead to costly cleanup (6)
Pellet Stove Pellets        
Propane None (1) Minor Low: heater maintenance Safety inspection & safe chimneys important (6)
Electricity None None None Low (wiring or fuse/circuit breaker errors can lead to fires) (6)
None None Low Low. Installation cost is about 2 x a conventional heating boiler (7)

Notes to Table 4: General comment: be sure that your home has working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors regardless of choice of heating fuels.

(1) Delivery cost is normally included in the price for this fuel.

(2) Delivery cost may be included in the price for firewood; variation in actual amount of BTUS delivered varies significantly depending on the species and dryness of the firewood and the tightness of stacking of the cord or face cord that is delivered.

(3) Maintenance must include daily stove cleaning and removal/disposal of ash and slag waste

(4) Annual inspection and maintenance recommended for safety; gas fired equipment generally requires less cleaning and adjustment than oil-fired equipment; improperly operating equipment or a damaged or blocked chimney is dangerous and can produce carbon monoxide hazards.

(5) Annual maintenance is necessary; failure to maintain oil fired equipment is likely to result in significantly lowered heater efficiency, increased heating cost, and possible loss of heat.

(6) We have not considered environmental cost associated with pollutants depending on the utility company's choice of fuels to be consumed at the power generating plant, such as high vs low sulphur content coal, acid rain, cost of nuclear site protection, disposal of nuclear waste, nor of plant replacement costs which will affect current or future utility company rates

(7) Heat Pump operating cost variables & COP Calculations:

Where a heat pump is used to provide part of the building's heat requirements, the efficiency of the air-to-air heat pump will be less at lower temperatures. Spies (1971, 1977) [2] notes that heat pump efficiency when outdoorr air is warm is quite different from at cold temperatures, making its use of electricity more complex.

Details about heat pump COP and operating efficiency variation are at HEAT PUMP COP.

Additional heating cost factors

  • Building air leaks and insulation defects: we assume that this value is constant when comparing heating fuel costs.
  • Installation cost for the heating equipment, varies by type of equipment and geographic area
  • Heating equipment life expectancy or durability of different types of heating equipment; longer-lived equipment provides a longer payback period before it has to be replaced. Heater life is also affected by the level of maintenance it receives. For example, unattended leaks on a heating boiler can destroy it.
  • Heating distribution system efficiency differences, which vary by type of distribution (hot water, warm air, electric baseboard) and also by the condition of the system (leaks in a hot air duct, hot water heating pipes routed through cold spaces).
  • Heating fuel availability (and price) varies by type of fuel and geographic area;
  • Heating fuel source choice alternatives among suppliers which varies by fuel and geographic area, i.e. competition
  • Renewable vs non-renewable energy sources;
  • Solar and Wind energy alternatives and payback time for purchasing & installing such new equipment;
  • Heating system comfort: opinions vary among occupants who may prefer hot water heat, steam heat, warm air heat, radiant heat, etc. While this is a subjective judgment, differences in opinion will indirectly impact heating cost. For example if someone feels uncomfortable with a particular type of heating system and fuel they may set their thermostat higher in compensation, thus using more energy than they might with a different delivery system. Evenness of building temperature and thus comfort can vary by heating system type as well as by how the heating system is used (for example keeping a warm air furnace blower fan on continuously or running it intermittently).

List of Articles on How to Reduce Home Heating Costs

A Concise History of changes in estimates of U.S. Oil & Gas Reserves

Increasing Estimates of U.S. Oil & Natural Gas Reserves

Exxon CEO Rex Wilson (quoted in Newsweek Magazine, October 2010), provided a nicely succinct history of estimates of United States oil and natural gas reserves and usage from 1979 to the present. Here are some of the facts listed by Mr. Wilson, who said that he expects U.S. reliance on oil as well as an adequate supply of oil to continue for some time yet:

  • 80% of worlds energy is currently drawn from oil, natural gas, or, coal
  • 1879 the first commercial light bulb was sold, 75% of energy produced in the U.S. was from burning wood
  • 1880's coal surpassed timber
  • 1950's oil surpassed coal - also see AGE of HEATERS, BOILERS, FURNACES
  • 1914 bureau of mines said oil reserves would be gone by 1924
  • 1939 interior Dept said oil reserves would last 13 years to 1952
  • 1951 interior said world had 13 years of proven reserves
  • 1970 per oven reserves estimated at 62 billion
  • 1977 Jimmy carter said proven oil reserves would be gone by 1990
  • 2006 the U.S. had pumped 767 billion barrels and had proven reserves of 1.2 trillion barrels of oil
  • 2010 world consumption has used 3 times the proven reserves of 1977
  • 2010 rock shale in TX, LA, MT,ND, NY, PA and other eastern states may contain 2000 trillion cu ft of natural gas
  • Modern city of 1 million uses 6 million btus of energy per second, 1000 gallons of oil per minute,

Significantly, Mr. Wilson also pointed out that as of 2010,

  • 1.5 billion people still have no electricity
  • 2.5 billion people burn wood, dung or other biomass
  • That combustion is harmful to health and air quality [but of course so is burning coal, and in some conditions other fuels - Ed.]
  • By 2035 china and India will have pushed energy demand 35% above 2005
  • By 2035 economies of developed nations will be 50% larger than 2005 but energy demand will be slightly lower due to efficiencies driven by higher prices

Decreasing Estimates of Some U.S. Oil & Natural Gas Reserves

Here is a different view of oil and gas reserves, showing downwards, not upwards estimates, dramatically different from the picture one might take from Mr. Wilson's comments above:

According to a very brief news report appearing in The New York Times, 27 October 2010, in turn reporting from AP,

“the U.S. Geological Survey says that the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska contains less than one-tenth of the amount of oil it previously estimated... the new estimate is 896 million barrels compared with the ... 2002 ... estimate of 10.6 billion barrels The agency ... cut ... estimates of natural gas ... to 53 trillion cu. ft. from 61 trillion cu. ft.” (AP)


Continue reading at ENERGY SAVINGS PRIORITIES or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

Suggested citation for this web page

HEATING COST FUEL & BTU COST TABLES at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

More Reading

Green link shows where you are in this article series.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Questions & answers or comments about comparable costs of different types of heating fuels.

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References