Hey Genie, what’s the best fuel for heating my home?

Well, that depends on several factors. Some things to consider when selecting the best fuel and heating system most suited for your needs include:

  • fuel cost
  • comfort
  • availability
  • environmental impact


The best way to look at fuel costs is to compare them based on two things: their heat content and the efficiency with which each is converted into useful heat.

Believe it or not, the most commonly used value for expressing the heat content of a fuel here in the U.S. is the British thermal unit (BTU). One BTU is the amount of energy necessary to raise the temperature of one pound of 39° F water by 1° degree. As an example, a single match will produce 1 BTU of heat.

As for heating efficiency, it is the percentage of usable heat extracted from the fuel and distributed throughout the home or building. For example, a heating system that is 80% efficient means that 80 cents of every dollar spent on the energy source goes to heat your home and hot water.

The table below lists the average BTUs per standard unit of measure for each of the four main heating fuels. (These figures are general references for residential heating applications only.)

  Standard Unit of Measure (U.S.) Typical System Efficiency # of BTUs
per unit 
(heat content)
BTUs converted to heat
Heating Oil gallon 80% 140,000 112,000
Propane gallon 80% 91,330 73,064
Natural Gas therm 80% 100,000 80,000
Electric Heat Pump Kilowatt-hours 100% 3,412 3,412
Electric Resistance Kilowatt-hours 95% 3412 3241


Source: Oil Manufacturers’ Association (OMA)

A typical Maryland home will consume between 250,000 and 325,000 BTUs per day during the winter at an average efficiency of between 75-95%.

So how much will that cost? The table below shows each of the fuel types’ base cost per 1 million BTUs, (about 3-4 days usage) as well as its cost per BTU using typical efficiency metrics.

  Cost per one-million BTUs Typical Efficiency % Actual Cost per one-million BTUs Customer, Stride and Universal charges
Heating Oil $11.24 80% $14.05 NONE
Propane $22.98 80% $28.73 $10.98/yr (estimate)
Natural Gas $8.08 80% $10.10 $161.64/yr (estimate)
Electric Heat Pump $40.74 cop 2 * $21.44 $94.32/yr (estimate)
Electric Resistance $40.74 95% $42.88 $94.32/yr (estimate)


Oil costs are based on today’s heating oil price for Aladdin Heating Oil’s “emerald” pricing tier. Propane costs are based on local propane supplier information. Natural gas and electricity costs are based on an actual BGE billing statement dated 12/7/15.

*COP – that’s simply the coefficient of performance of a heat pump as a ratio of heating provided to work required. Higher COPs equate to lower operating costs. COP of 2 equals 1/2 the electric resistance cost.

Of course, actual efficiencies can vary from those used above. In fact, many of today’s oil, propane, and heat pump systems are even more efficient than the typical numbers above. Some are between 83 and 94 percent more efficient and save homeowners hundreds of dollars annually in fuel costs.

When comparing heating costs, it’s important to compare pomegranates to pomegranates. Comparing an old 60% efficiency heating unit with a brand new 90% efficiency unit is not a true comparison regardless of the fuel type. It’s like comparing a Pinto to my magic carpet!


What are you really paying for each month? Comfort! So you might as well get it.

Despite efficiencies of between 150% and 200% for some of the newer heat pumps, most homeowners find the comfort they provide to be less than satisfactory when outdoor temperatures dip down below 40°F.

Here’s Genie’s 30-second heat pump lesson.

The rise in temperature that a heat pump is able to produce decreases as outdoor temperature decreases. So, while a heat pump will still be able to raise indoor air to a reasonable temperature, without the aid of a back-up system the temperature of the circulating air is usually lower than your natural body temperature. That’s why it actually feels cool when you hold your hand over the vent.

By comparison, the rise in temperature produced by heating oil, propane, and natural gas is constant, regardless of outdoor temperature. The air they produce is usually a very cozy 110°F or warmer. That’s why it feels good to stand by the register on those raw winter days! 


While this may seem obvious, availability always needs to be considered when selecting a heating fuel.

Natural gas is not an option unless the local utility company has provided your property with a line to their gas infrastructure.

Home heating oil and propane are available as long as your property is located within a provider’s delivery area and your tank is accessible.

Environmental Impact  

Lastly, as our world population continues to increase, it’s important that we all do our part to take care of the environment. The fuel you use to heat your home makes a difference in the volume of “greenhouse” gases, released into the atmosphere, a major cause of global warming. Current studies show that homeowners can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% by switching from electric to oil heat.

So, is home heating oil a good choice? Yes! It keeps your home warm while helping the environment. And while prices go up and down, Aladdin Oil (and your favorite Genie) work hard to keep home heating oil affordable for you and your budget.

Aladdin Heating Oil is the fastest, easiest way to order heating oil online in Maryland, including Baltimore County, Carroll County, and Howard County.


Call or click today!