Would you want to heat your house with gas or oil?

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After a house fire, not totally burnt, things are being rebuilt. The house is currently oil heat with electric range and hot water heater. Some prefer gas for their reasons others prefer oil and electric. I get that, but what if you were buying a house? - what would you choose and why? As a seller, would it warrant the expense ABOVE the heavy cleaning of the existing system and remove and replacing all duct work (which is what the insurance covers and all contractors are recommending), to change everything to gas including installing gas lines to the road and removing the oil tank from the basement, a Hazmat project? IMO, buyers would be split on a choice and even if gas was slightly preferred, I am not sure it would warrant the extra expense to draw buyers. How do you feel?
  19 answers
  • Mary Ann Niemczycki Mary Ann Niemczycki on Mar 05, 2017
    I always loved oil heat. It's great as long as you do your yearly cleaning/maintenance and that is usually included in your fuel contract. I would check with several realtors. Is oil common in your area? If it seems strange or foreign to buyers it could be a problem.
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    • Debbie Debbie on Mar 09, 2017
      Thanks Mary Ann - that's kind of what I thought people would feel. The existing system is not that old. They will be removing and replacing all duct work and a "deep cleaning" of the heater. This is as both the insurance adjuster and all contractors have said will be sufficient and work well. But, even if I have to replace the system, it would be cheaper than changing everything in the house over to gas just for the sake of gas unless people just have to have gas. I am seeing a split of opinion on preference here and don't think it is so imperative as a selling point. Thank you
  • Debbie Debbie on Mar 05, 2017
    Thanks Mary Ann. Realtors are on my list to check with for their opinions of buyers. Yes oil is common here and in many homes.
  • Colimbia1 Colimbia1 on Mar 05, 2017
    I have had both oil and natural gas. I prefer natural gas. Like someone else commented if you have problems with an oil burner it can be a stinking mess. I have had the oil burner blow up and send soot all over walls and ceilings. One good thing for both is that neither is a heat pump run by electricity. House was never an even temp in the winter like a gas or oil furnace is. You can also heat with propane but I have never used it. One other consideration if you live in an area where you have natural gas or oil as a choice you should compare costs. We have a natural gas furnace now and it is over 20 years old and have never had any problems with it.
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    • Debbie Debbie on Mar 09, 2017
      Whew good to know! I hated that.
  • Deanna Nassar Deanna Nassar on Mar 06, 2017
    I prefer gas because it is usually cheaper than oil and oil will continue to rise. Gas is usually cleaner and that "SMELL" is put there to let you know it's leaking. If you are replacing a floor furnace keep in mind how much space is under the house. Many of the newer gas furnaces are taller than the old ones. If they say they will have to dig under the house to make it fit, DON'T do it. Change to another type of furnace. My Mother replaced her oil with gas and first time it rained water pooled in the hole and blew the electric connections.
  • Danielle Odin Danielle Odin on Mar 06, 2017
    Ok. Gas is cheaper and cleaner on the environment than oil. It is also safer as you can smell the gas and call the proper authorities. What about using Solar? super clean and pays for itself in the long run.
    • Debbie Debbie on Mar 07, 2017
      Thanks Danielle. If I had plans to live there I would consider solar, but the house will be sold and so I am looking for what is most preferred by potential buyers that still keeps my cost down. I am not interested in the long run.
  • Sky Sky on Mar 07, 2017
    Gas... cheaper, safer, cleaner! Just make sure you get a switch that will go on without electricity for when we lose electric!
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    • Debbie Debbie on Mar 09, 2017
      Judy I have to say I agree. Oil heat is warm and the BTU output is higher/more efficient. I often see on the news houses either blown away or burnt due to a gas leak from the HVAC or hat water heater but have never seen one caused by oil heat. Being in the middle of house rebuild after a fire (from failed electrical outlet) I do not want another! I also go back to the added expense of changing everything over to gas for a house I will be selling. It seems opinions are spit here too on which is preferred, yet Mary Ann made a point that she'd go with either system - age being the determining factor for her.
  • Debbie Debbie on Mar 07, 2017
    One thing I keep in mind is this too - gas may be cheaper right now, but if at sometime in the future they cut down on all the fracking once they realize the damage it is doing, what will gas prices do then?
  • Gwen Barham Loftus Gwen Barham Loftus on Mar 08, 2017
    Natural Gas is better by far! Oil is prone to be more expensive overall than gas. If you get a high efficiency furnace it should pay for itself in about 7 years. Gas seems to burn cleaner, leave less dust, and the furnace doesn't need a lot of repairs I have found. (just a once over every two years which only costs about $50) While you are at it, get a gas water heater too. As for a kitchen stove, I prefer electric with smooth top....easy to keep clean. Just my opinions but I think you'd be happy with natural gas.
    • See 3 previous
    • Gwen Barham Loftus Gwen Barham Loftus on Mar 10, 2017
      I hope the sale will go well and all the repairs and that you get a great profit! Such a difficult task.
  • CecileH CecileH on Mar 09, 2017
    Growing up we had a wood/oil combination furnace. We spent many weekends stacking wood Dad was able to get from farmers who wanted their bushes tidied up. We never took standing trees, trees hit by lightening, knocked down by wind storms etc...living in the country helped! Anyway, for the amount of work that went into it I would still go with wood first, then oil then gas possibly water boiler and never if at all possible electric! With 6 of us at home one tank of oil would get us through the heaviest of winters, turning the oil on in the morning to get the house warmed up while one of us got the wood fire stoked before we hit the shower! If the temperature in the house dipped below a specific level the oil would kick in during the night. Now as an adult we have had electric in our first place which cost us as much as our rent for our first winter-both being use to wood heating! When we bought our house it had gas...even though it is not as warm as wood or oil, and with all the delivery costs it is still cheaper than electric!
  • Debbie Debbie on Mar 09, 2017
    Yes Cecile you are correct. Oil produces more BTU per gallon and you only pay for it during the winter. Not the house I am selling but the one I live in is a ranch that is 65 feet long, 32 feet wide. (obviously uses more to heat than a 2 story) and in VERY cold winters I may use 2 1/2 tanks of oil. I usually use just under 2. So my heating costs are around $1200 a year. The house I am selling is also a ranch but a little smaller 55'x 28' and is actually insulated better than mine. I really don't see the gain of gas at all, but I wanted people's opinions as if they were buyers.
  • Mary Ann Niemczycki Mary Ann Niemczycki on Mar 09, 2017
    Best of luck to you!
  • Sky Sky on Mar 09, 2017
    Yes...it is cheaper.
  • Hot air Hot air on Mar 09, 2017
    Gas for sure, oil is dirty. Our last house we had natural gas, reasonable to heat. Just built in the woods only propane gas or oil to choose from. We went propane, here in Ontario you have to get your oil furnace checked every year to the tune of $300.00. We mostly heat by a wood stove lots of free wood around our house. If I had the choice of natural gas - it would be no a brainer, natural gas.
    • Debbie Debbie on Mar 10, 2017
      Thanks Hot Air. Wood it not a choice here. It is not the city but population density is 1200+ per square mile. Another reason to sell Dad's house and move somewhere with less people.
  • Citygirl Citygirl on Mar 09, 2017
    I'm currently looking to buy another home, and after replacing my old oil furnace with gas a few years ago, I will only consider a new home with gas heat. My current home is 1500 sq. ft, and my gas bill (heat, hot water, cooking) is only $56 a month! Oil used to cost me hundreds a month! Oil prices are also more volatile, while gas has consistently gone down year after year. Electric continues to go up, so I wouldn't go that way either. Low heating bills are more attractive to a buyer. Go gas!
  • Paulette Paulette on Mar 10, 2017
    My mominlaw has oil heat and I really like it. I would not go through the expense of changing over to gas heat just to sell. Let someone else bear the cost if they decide they want to. We replaced my MIL's oil furnace a few years ago. Her heating bill is comparable to others with natural gas, especially as she is elderly and keeps it warmer. But her heat is actually warm when it comes out of the register. Unlike my gas forced air, which takes forever to warm the house. I vote for oil. Yes it's price fluctuates but so does natural gas. Definitely go with a gas hot water heater. It is much less expensive to run. If they are redoing duct work, it isn't much work to put an exhaust in the chimney to vent the gas water heater. But if you have to change the plumbing to relocate the water heater to near the chimney, don't bother. Again, leave it to the buyer. I don't think the furnace or water heater will influence a buyer much. Location, the house layout, and the yard are what sells a property, in my opinion.
  • Debbie Debbie on Mar 10, 2017
    Thank you Pakozy for your well thought out response. The water heater is undamaged and does not need to be replaced at all. It is electric and would have to be relocated as well as piping changed for it to be in a different place or type, so I think it best just to leave it alone. My original thoughts were to just do as the contractors say and remove and replace duct work as well as "deep clean" the oil furnace I have. Worst case scenario would be to replace the heater - IF it needs it. From the responses I have received, people seem to like gas they have for their own reasons, but none say it warrants such an expense to change just for buyers. In fact, one said it made no difference. The property is unique and I think it will sell itself regardless of heat. I live in a very heavily suburban area that is still growing. It is on a larger lot than normal. It is a completely wheelchair accessible (not counting the full basement) 4 bedroom/2 bath ranch. It has another detached 2 bedroom/1 bath wheelchair accessible mother-in-law home. It has a two story oversized garage with one door large enough for a motorhome, the other one regular sized as well as a 1 car attached garage. To be honest, I know of no other property like it near here. In my heart I don't think type of heat matters if there is someone looking for this type property and with the aging society, I think there are. Heck, on the other side of the coin, the "mother-in-law" home could be for adult kids who haven't bothered to grow up and get a job and still live off mommy and daddy. Who knows?
  • Claude Claude on Mar 13, 2017
    I changed my furnace out for a more efficient system 3 yrs ago. Now, if I could do solar I would get off the grid and go that way otherwise buyers want their home to be heated. Most first time buyers don't focus on that if the heat works. There. Is no way I would switch to gas..just dependence on another oil byproduct that is cheaper for now. My gf swapped out her oil for gas during the 1970/oil crisis and regretted it months later when prices went thru the roof. Change it to be independent..period.
  • Paulette Paulette on Mar 14, 2017
    Debbie, I forgot that you didn't have natural gas service at all when I wrote about the gas water heater. Your property sounds great. I live in an older small ranch in a wooded suburban property and really love it. The small home was the only way we could get into such a nice area. We knew if we expanded the home, we would have room and it would be comparable to the homes around us. And the handicap accessible feature is so important these days with the aging population. I'm glad you'll stay with oil heat. I'm sure whoever moves in will learn to like it. If they can afford the large property that you have, oil heat costs will be insignificant. I need to replace my furnace and will have to continue with natural gas. If I had the room, I'd go with oil. But we mostly heat with a wood stove so the furnace is only a backup. Good luck with your sale.
  • Debbie Debbie on Mar 14, 2017
    Thanks Pakozy. Good luck with your replacement too!
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