Does Heating Oil or Electric Home Heating Cost More?

Written on: May 27, 2024

How to Use BTU to Compare the True Cost

heating oil New Castle County, DE As you may know, many state and local governments have been adopting the strategy to electrify everything possible, including heating systems.

The new electric heat being touted as the “future” is a heat pump, which is basically an air conditioner that can work in reverse, blowing warm air into a home during the cold weather months.

This commitment to electrification can lead to big problems, however. Heat pump conversions are expensive and not practical for all Delaware Valley homes, especially those with no ductwork. Heat pumps also do not work very efficiently when the weather—and your home–gets cold. Heat pumps are also extremely difficult to repair and there is a shortage of replacement parts.

While it’s true that heat pump technology has improved greatly over the years, there are still times when it is so cold the heat pump will not be able to keep your home comfortable, requiring the need for a backup heating system.

But if heating oil, natural gas and propane gas heating systems are all on the chopping block, the only alternative for backup heat would be electric resistance heat strips that are integrated into the central heat pump system. But this will make electric bills go even higher. Electric resistance heat is cheap to install but very expensive to operate.

Compare Heating Oil to Electric Cost with BTU

According to data from the Energy Information Administration, in February 2024, the average electric rates ranged from about 15-cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) in Delaware to about 17-cents per kWh in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. So how do you compare that to the cost of heating oil from us, which was in the range of $3.50 per gallon this spring?

To get a true comparison of these costs, you need to consider heating efficiency.

First, heating oil generates much more BTU than an equivalent amount of electricity, so you need much less heating oil to produce the same amount of heat energy.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a British thermal unit (Btu) is a measure of the heat content of fuels or energy sources. It’s measured by the quantity of heat that’s required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit–at the temperature in which water has its greatest density (approximately 39 degrees Fahrenheit).

Thanks to BTU, you can compare different heating fuels on an equal basis. For example, to compare heating oil with electricity, you need to know that:

Right off the bat, you can see that heating oil has a whole lot more BTU power than electricity does. To make these two energy sources “equal,” divide 138,690 Btus by 3,412 Btu. Your answer, rounded off, will be 41.

The number 41 means one gallon of heating oil is the equal of 41 kWh of electricity. In other words, one gallon of heating oil has the same amount of usable energy as 41 kilowatt hours of electricity.

Finally, to get to the actual cost, multiply 41 kilowatts by the average cost of electricity in the Delaware Valley (16-cents) and you get $6.56. So, one gallon of heating oil at $3.50 is the same as 41 kwh of electricity, which comes out to a cost of $6.56. It’s easy to see now the clear winner as far as the cost to heat your home: it’s heating oil!

B20 Bioheat Plus® Fuel in New Castle County DE and Beyond

The heating oil industry’s answer for clean and affordable energy is Bioheat® fuel, which Lawman’s Oil has been delivering for years now.

Our B20 Bioheat Plus® fuel is a blend of ultra-low sulfur heating oil combined with premium biofuels made from renewable resources such as animal fats, recycled restaurant cooking oils, algae, and plant oils. B20 Bioheat Plus fuel is made from locally sourced products, which also aids in reducing waste within our communities.

The B20 part of B20 Bioheat Plus fuel stands for what percentage of the fuel is made with biofuels. That means that our Bioheat Plus fuel is made with 20% biofuels. This high level of biofuel is why B20 Bioheat Plus fuel burns extremely clean, as well as efficiently.

Whenever you buy fuel from Lawman’s Oil, you are also joining us in the fight against cancer. We donate 1¢ of every gallon we sell to the American Breast Cancer Foundation, which helps women in need by providing mammograms, prevention and early-detection programs, and support during and after diagnosis.

Contact Lawman’s Oil to get reliable delivery of B20 Bioheat Plus® fuel in Gloucester, Camden, and Salem Counties in New Jersey; New Castle County in Delaware; and Chester and Delaware Counties in Pennsylvania.