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Choosing a Gas or Oil Furnace


Which type of furnace you choose for your home depends on a number of factors. All modern furnaces are designed to maximize efficiency and provide comfort and energy savings, and there have been significant advances in the safety features of furnaces.

Choosing the right furnace for your home may depend on fuel availability and budget or even space. Some places do not have access to piping infrastructure, and this limits options. There are benefits and drawbacks to using both types of furnaces. Below, we give you the comparisons between the two.

Fuel Efficiency Rating

This is one of the first things a homeowner should consider when choosing a furnace. This rating is often referred to as Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)—it’s a way to measure the efficiency of the combustion of a furnace. A higher AFUE rating means the product has a higher degree of efficiency.

Many oil furnace manufacturers will claim their products get an AFUE rating of up to 90 percent. There are natural gas furnace manufacturers who claim their products’ AFUE rating is up to 98 percent. Newer furnaces are all more efficient than older ones by as much as 29 percent and more.

Gas Furnace Versatility

A natural gas furnace is able to be used in any type of home, and also operate well with a water heater or any other type of system that requires heat. They are very dependable systems and seldom require repairs. This is important during cold winter months. Natural gas is a clean-burning fossil fuel. It is a heating system that provides no harm to the environment.

Oil Furnace Versatility

Using heating oil is very safe: it won't ignite until it achieves a temperature of 140 degrees. This means if a flame were accidentally put into heating oil, it would be extinguished (the heating oil would react as water in this situation). It's also easy to tell if there are problems with an oil furnace. It will provide noticeable warning signs that something is wrong, like soot, smoke, or some type of odor.

If an oil furnace is properly maintained, it could last an owner three decades or longer. A gas furnace on average lasts less than 15 years. At the same time, it is important to consider the volatility of oil prices, as well as the possibility of getting the oil trucked to your home and having clear access.

Reality of Gas Furnaces

As mentioned, a natural gas furnace may have a higher heating efficiency rating than an oil furnace. The fuel costs may be less, but will provide a home with lower heat per BTU when compared to oil. Gas furnaces are typically about 24 percent more expensive than an oil furnace of similar size. In addition, the home must be located in an area where a supply of natural gas is available.

A gas furnace will require little maintenance, and is able to operate cleaner and quieter than an oil furnace. It's possible for a gas furnace to work even if the electricity is out, and since the natural gas system is underground, fuel outages are rare.

It is extremely important for a gas furnace to be regularly serviced by an HVAC professional; it emits a low level of carbon monoxide, and if not handled properly, it could become a health safety issue.

Reality of Oil Furnaces

To have an oil furnace, the homeowner must have an on-site tank to which oil must be delivered. An oil furnace is easily serviced, and some oil delivery companies will offer a service contract for maintenance.

That said, the maintenance required is often extensive. This is because an oil furnace creates a buildup of soot and dirt in chimneys that needs to be cleaned regularly. It's also essential to frequently change the oil filter.

The costs associated with operating an oil furnace are dependent on oil prices that can fluctuate from one winter season to the next.


When considering either an oil or gas furnace is gather information, gathering the facts and pricing information is a good place to start. Fuel regulations need to be taken into consideration as well. Legislation can have an impact on the supply of natural gas as well as oil. It's also important to know if there is more than one oil supplier in an area, so a homeowner can get the best possible price for their fuel costs.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to give us a call at 705-687-3402, or contact us online. We're happy to discuss your questions or needs and advise on the best, most economical solution that will meet your needs.

For heating services in the following service areas,  Contact ATEL AIR Heating & Cooling: 

  • Morrisburg
  • Winchester
  • Williamsburg
  • Osgoode
  • kemptville
  • Brockville
  • Cornwall
  • Embrun
  • Greely and more,

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