Electric vs. Oil Heating Systems: Which Option Is Best For Your Orange Park, FL Home? - Weather Engineers Inc

Electric vs. Oil Heating Systems: Which Option Is Best For Your Orange Park, FL Home?

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The cost to heat your home or business can fluctuate from month to month. That is because it depends on myriad factors that consumers have no control over. This includes the weather and energy costs. 

One area where home and business owners do have some say is what heating system they have. There are many different types of furnaces, including electricity and oil, with distinct advantages to each. Which one is best depends on the individual and their home. 

This article breaks down the distinctions between an electrical and oil heat system. It covers the different advantages as well as the few potential drawbacks to each. Keep reading to find out which one might be right for your Orange Park home. 

Electric and Oil System Basics

There are many different options for producing heat for homes. These include natural gas, propane, and wood-burning heaters. Electricity and oil are two of the most common options.

As the name suggests, electric heaters use electricity to produce warm air. They have a heating element made up of coils and electric resistance wires. 

As electricity passes through these, it generates heat through resistance. This converts electrical energy into thermal energy. A blower then circulates the warmed air throughout the building. 

An oil boiler also contains a heating element, usually made of metal. This submerges into the oil in a reservoir and heats it. This produces warm air that radiates into the surrounding space. 

Electric vs. Oil Heat: Advantages

Due to their higher level of potential heat output, oil furnaces tend to be more popular in colder climates. The simplicity and ease of maintenance related to electric furnaces make them the go-to choice for warmer locations. 

There are pros and cons to both an electric and an oil heating system you should consider, no matter where you live. Here are the main categories, including a breakdown of how each system stacks up.

Efficiency and Energy Costs

Burning oil produces more heat relative to the same amount of energy needed for electrical heat output. That is because, once the oil is heated, it continues to produce heat with minimal input from the heating element.

In most instances, this means you are getting more bang for your buck with oil heat. This makes it a cheaper alternative than electrical furnaces. 

Several factors can impact this, not the least of which is the cost of oil and electricity production, both of which can fluctuate. The cost of electricity can vary depending on your location, utility rates, and the time of day you use it.  

The price of oil can go up and down as well. In fact, it suffers from greater swings than energy from utilities. The best thing to do is talk to a reputable technician about the average cost of electricity versus oil heating in your area, as well as any potential changes that could be coming down the pike.  

Performance

As mentioned, oil heat can create more consistent output than an electric furnace. Also, when burned, oil can reach extremely high temperatures. This means it has the potential to heat your home much faster, which can translate to increased comfort, as well as decreased energy use. 

This is more of an advantage for colder climates, versus more temperate ones. Also, it can be difficult to cut the heat on oil heaters down, once they have been running for a while. 

Electric furnaces emit a dryer heat than oil-fired ones. This can be problematic for people with allergies or respiratory issues. However, it may be less of an issue in very humid climates, such as Orange Park.  

Maintenance and Repairs

Oil-fired furnaces can last for 30 years or more with little maintenance. You can expect electrical furnaces to last 15 to 20 years. In general, they will demand slightly more maintenance than oil furnaces.  

When repairs are needed, electrical furnaces come out ahead. They are easier and cheaper to repair than oil-fired ones. Also, their components are not hard to find or install. 

Environmental Impact

Oil heating can be more environmentally friendly than electric heat generation, but it is an apples-to-oranges comparison. Oil is non-toxic and produces no air pollutants when burned. 

Even though oil burns much cleaner than other energy sources, it is a fossil fuel. Carbon dioxide gets released into the atmosphere when it combusts.  

Keep in mind that most electricity generation comes from fossil fuels as well, though the shift has been toward cleaner sources. Increasingly, electricity production relies on wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear, and less on fossil fuels. 

How much depends on your location and where your utility company gets its electricity. Most companies post this information on their website, so it is easy to find. 

Safety

As mentioned, oil burns very hot. This means a great potential for fires. 

Both oil and electrical systems have automatic cut-off features to prevent overheating and related hazards. These include limit switches that shut the furnace down if it exceeds a certain temperature. 

A good oil heat system will also have tip-over switches that can mitigate danger if it gets knocked over. Natural safety mechanisms in electric heaters are circuit breakers and fuses. These guard against electrical overload, the most common fire hazard. 

Installation Costs

Electrical- and oil-powered furnace units cost about the same amount. However, oil-heat furnace installation can be much higher. That is because it is slightly more complex and could require retrofitting if you are replacing an existing electric furnace with an oil one. 

Find Electrical and Oil Heat System Installation Near You

Now that you understand the differences between an electric and an oil heat system, you can determine which one is right for you. An experienced HVAC technician can further advise you on the advantages each can afford based on your home’s unique layout and your personal energy and heating goals. 

Since 1963, Weather Engineers has provided the Jacksonville area with the highest quality HVAC services available. We now have offices throughout northern Florida, including Gainesville, St. Augustine, and many others in the surrounding areas. Contact us today to schedule service.