Oil Versus Gas Heating: What’s the Difference?

person turning a knob on a heater

Most of the United States is hooked up to gas lines. Obviously, that makes it a popular heating choice, but did you know that 4% of American households use oil heat? (U.S. Energy Information Administration) That means there are probably a lot of people who aren’t familiar with how this heating system works. Let’s uncover all the differences between oil and gas heat.

Oil Heating

How does this type of heating work? Well, these systems rely on—you guessed it—oil to generate heat. This oil is stored in a tank on the user’s property and then pumped into the heating system where it’s ignited to give our homes the heat we need.

Advantages of Oil Heating

These systems offer many benefits including:

  1. Availability and Accessibility: One of the great things about oil heating is its widespread availability. Though it’s more commonly used in rural areas where there aren’t gas lines, most places offer options that you can use to easily access oil when you need it.
  2. Efficiency and Heating Consistency: These systems are known for their efficient performance and consistent heating. At 400 degrees hotter than a gas furnace, oil creates the most intense flame among all residential heating fuels. This means it can heat your home more rapidly while consuming a smaller amount of fuel in the process. Once you set your desired temperature, you can count on your oil heater to keep your house warm.
  3. Longevity of Equipment: With proper maintenance, the equipment can last a long time, providing reliable warmth season after season. Regular servicing and inspections by qualified technicians can significantly extend the life of your system, so it will continue to offer efficient heating. The durability makes it a cost-effective choice if you’re looking for a reliable way to warm your house for several years. Just be sure to invest in high-quality components and follow manufacturer recommendations. This will allow you to maximize the longevity of your oil heating equipment and have consistent warmth in the winter.

Disadvantages of Oil Heating

While there are many advantages, there are also a few downsides:

  1. Environmental Concerns: Though oil is effective, it does come with environmental drawbacks. Burning it releases carbon emissions, contributing to air pollution and climate change. That said, today’s oil contains less sulfur, which helps minimize air pollution. 
  2. Higher Maintenance Costs: While it may give you a lower power bill, maintaining it can be more expensive compared to other options. From regular tune-ups to occasional repairs, the costs can really add up over time.
  3. Fluctuating Oil Prices: Changes in the oil market can lead to unpredictable heating costs. Global political and economic conditions can cause prices to become volatile, and if the prices rise past a certain point, it can make it difficult for you to budget for your heating expenses.

Gas Heating

One alternative is using a gas heating system. With this type of heating, natural gas is piped directly into your home or business. When you raise the temperature on your thermostat, the gas is ignited, producing heat that will warm you up quickly.


  1. Lower Emissions Compared to Oil: Gas burns cleaner than oil and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions in comparison. This reduces its carbon footprint, making it a more environmentally friendly option. These systems are also more energy efficient, resulting in lower overall energy consumption and cost savings.
  2. Cost-Effectiveness in Regions with Abundant Natural Gas Supply: If you live in an area with ample natural gas resources, this can be a cost-effective option. Since the fuel source is readily available, prices tend to be more stable compared to oil.
  3. Convenience and Ease of Use: With just the flick of a switch or a turn of the dial, you can easily adjust your heating settings to keep you comfortable.

Disadvantages of Gas Heating

  1. Gas Supply Infrastructure Dependency: Unlike oil which can be stored on-site, natural gas requires a continuous supply. Any disruptions to the infrastructure can directly affect your heating system
  2. Safety Concerns Related to Gas Leaks: While it’s generally safe as long as it’s properly maintained, there’s always a risk of gas leaks. So, it’s important to install carbon monoxide detectors, have your system inspected regularly, and perform any needed HVAC maintenance tasks as soon as possible. 
  3. Limited Availability in Some Rural Areas: In remote or rural areas, access to natural gas may be limited or unavailable. This can make gas heating impossible for some households and businesses.


If we take oil heating and natural gas and compare them side by side, we find:

  • Cost Comparison: In terms of upfront costs, gas may have a slight edge over oil systems. However, the long-term costs can vary depending on factors such as fuel prices and maintenance expenses.
  • Environmental Impact: While both oil and gas have environmental consequences, gas heating tends to be slightly more eco-friendly due to lower emissions.
  • Efficiency: When it comes to heating performance and energy consumption, both oil and gas systems can be highly efficient. However, for both systems, proper maintenance and system upgrades are important for maximizing efficiency.

Looking at Best Sides

Whether you’re considering upgrading your heating system or simply curious about your options, it’s always a good idea to weigh all of the pros and cons. Location, budget, and environmental priorities should all be considered when you’re making your decision. And remember: when in doubt, don’t hesitate to consult with heating professionals who can provide personalized advice. 

Contact Holtzople today for expert advice and professional services. Whether you need heater repair, maintenance, or residential HVAC services, our team is here to help you stay warm!


U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2023, April 10). Mild temperatures reduced U.S. household heating fuel consumption last winter. Retrieved from https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=56100#:~:text=Overall%2C%204%25%20of%20U.S.%20households,mostly%20located%20in%20the%20Northeast.

Point Bay Fuel Heating and Cooling. (2016, October 19). Does it Really Burn Hotter? Get the Facts on Home Oil Heat. Retrieved from https://www.pointbayfuel.com/home-oil-heat-facts/