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Cost Comparison: Gas vs. Oil vs. Electricity, Part 2

June 23, 2013 | Posted by Mitt Jones
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In Part 1 of this article, we calculated the approximate prices below for three popular types of heating fuel:

Cost of natural gas = $1.10 for 100,000 BTU
Cost of heating oil = $2.50 for 100,000 BTU
Cost of electricity = $2.93 for 100,000 BTU

To understand what these numbers mean for your real-world heating needs, you need to know two things:

A) How much energy does it take to heat your house?
B) How efficient is your heat source?

One of the things we home performance contractors do is figure out how much energy it will take to heat your house. With any luck, we also reduce that figure dramatically through air sealing, adding insulation, and other improvements.

We can’t tell you what your annual heating load is without modeling your house. As a very rough approximation, let’s say a moderate-sized house in the Portland metro area with so-so insulation has an annual energy usage of 60,000,000 BTU.

If your house is very small, your annual heating load may be more like 10,000,000 to 20,000,000 BTU. If your house is large but well insulated, your heating load might be 50,000,000 BTU per year.  A large poorly insulated house can easily require 100,000,000 BTU per year in the Portland area.

If you want to compare the costs of heating with gas, oil, and electricity in your own house and you know that 60,000,000 BTU won’t do, just substitute your number in place of 60,000,000 everywhere you see it in Part 3.

Next time, in Part 3 of this article, we’ll factor in efficiency. Then we’ll run the numbers to show you how each fuel stacks up.

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