August 30, 2021

The Real Cost of Heating with Electricity

With legislation aimed at eliminating fossil fuels to attain net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 across the country, many people are left wondering if heating their homes with electricity is the way to go.

This might sound like a great idea in theory, but there’s much more to the story. While Baribault Fuel firmly believes in preserving our planet and changes needing to be made to address climate change, when it comes to heating your home, a complete switch to electric heat could cause costly changes for many homeowners, with little impact on carbon footprint reduction.

When you choose to utilize electricity for everything, there are a few key points that you need to look at:

  • Some of the legislative bills aim to replace oil- and propane-fired boilers and furnaces with electric-powered heat pumps. Many CT residents use heat pumps now as an additional heating source, but more than half the electricity generated in Connecticut comes from burning natural gas. Natural gas is made up of mostly methane – a gas that is more than 80 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Due to the efficiency of the gas, switching to electricity won’t reduce Connecticut’s carbon footprint, and in could actually increase it. When you use electricity, about 8-15% of the electricity produced by the power plant is lost en route to your home. You don’t have a loss like that when you heat your home with gas or oil.
  • Electricity isn’t all that reliable. If you look at the extreme weather in Texas this past year, you can easily understand that our power plants can be dramatically affected by temperature – both hot and cold. The energy grid is already fragile and prone to brownouts during hot summer days. Add in the demands of a bitterly cold New England winter and it may give you pause.
  • As mentioned above, electric heat pumps are now fairly common as secondary sources of heat, BUT they aren’t made for severe cold and their efficiency drops dramatically. Propane and oil-fired systems don’t have those issues.
  • It’s going to be expensive to change over to electric. The average cost to install a heat pump could be over $20,000 according to average regional data. That’s almost double the replacement cost of an oil- or propane-fired boiler or furnace.
  • Propane is cheaper than electric. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating a home in the U.S. with a propane heating system in recent years has cost far less than heating with an electric system. In addition, over time, propane water heaters can cost one-third less to operate and recover water twice as quickly as electric water heaters.
  • Oil and Propane are warmer than electric. Propane and oil furnaces heat air to about 130°F to 140°F and operate in short intervals to minimize operating costs. An electric heat pump produces heat below body temperature (98.6°F), so the air actually feels cool when placing your hand in front of a vent.
  • Propane furnaces last longer than electric heat pumps: propane-fueled furnaces last 5 to 10 years longer than electric heat pumps, on average.
  • Propane and oil are more dependable than electric. Propane and oil can be stored safely in a tank on your property, while electricity is subject to power outages.
  • Propane is clean. Propane has long been recognized as the “green” energy. By using this exceptional energy, homeowners can help cut emissions and protect the environment. Propane is an approved alternative fuel listed in both the Clean Air Act of 1990 and the National Energy Policy Act of 1992. Moreover, because propane is gas heat, it doesn’t spill, pool, or leave a residue.
  • Propane and oil are customer-friendly. With propane and oil, you get 24/7 customer service and support from your local heating fuel company, like Baribault Fuel – not from the big power companies.

When it comes to preserving the environment and reducing our carbon footprint, Baribault Fuel does everything we can, but sometimes the best change is not making a change. Oil and propane have come a long way over the past few decades to be more eco-friendly and more efficient, and we believe they still have their place in the world.

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