Oil vs. Gas: Which Furnace is Better?

Oil vs. Gas: Which Furnace is Better?

As you prepare to buy a furnace, you may have heard that gas furnaces are more expensive in the long run than electric ones. However, this is true only if you consider only the initial cost of each type of heating system. In reality, gas furnaces are more efficient than oil ones and require less maintenance over time.

If you’re interested in saving money while keeping your home warm during cold months—and reducing your environmental impact—gas furnaces are likely better for your needs than oil ones.

Upfront Installation Costs

When considering the cost of your furnace, you’ll need to consider these three things: heater installation, maintenance, and operation. While the upfront costs will differ between gas and oil heaters, keep in mind that gas heaters have lower maintenance costs over time.

  • Gas heaters are cheaper to install than oil heaters because they require less piping and ductwork.
  • Gas furnaces are also cheaper to operate than oil furnaces because they use less fuel (and thus emit fewer pollutants) per hour of operation.

Cost of Fuel

When you’re looking to buy a furnace, the cost of fuel will likely be your primary concern. Here’s how the furnaces stack up:

  • Gas furnaces are generally cheaper to operate than oil furnaces. They require less maintenance, and you’ll spend less on monthly energy bills because the gas price is still dropping (though not as rapidly as in recent years).
  • Oil furnaces tend to be more expensive overall. They require more frequent maintenance and can take longer for heat cycles than gas furnaces do. You’ll want to talk with your local HVAC professional about whether or not adding on a new furnace would save money in the long run.

If you already have an oil system in place, it may be more cost-effective to stick with it than switch systems requiring high installation costs (and possibly other upgrades).


Regardless of the fuel type, all furnaces require regular maintenance to keep them running efficiently. Oil furnaces require more frequent cleaning and filter changes than gas furnaces, but they are less expensive to operate because of the lower oil cost than natural gas. Gas furnaces need less frequent inspections and filter changes than oil-fired units because natural gas is a cleaner-burning fuel than kerosene or propane.


If your house is large, a gas furnace will likely be more efficient than an oil furnace. Gas is an excellent choice for heating larger areas. It also depends on where you live. If your area experiences cold winters and high energy costs, it may be worth upgrading to a more efficient system so you can stay warm without paying through your nose.

Environmental Impact

This one is pretty much a no-brainer. If you’ve ever had an oil heater break down, you know just how frustrating it can be to have your furnace not working when you need it most. Not only do gas heaters cost less to operate than oil heaters, but they’re also more reliable and environmentally friendly.