November 21, 2018
Oil vs Natural Gas Heat: Which One is Safer for Your Home?
Natural gas and oil are two of the most common ways to heat your New England home in the winter. There are pros and cons to each type of heating fuel when it comes to availability and environmental impact. And, oil vs natural gas prices tend to even out over a season. But, when it comes to oil vs natural gas heat, sometimes people overlook the safety of each product. So, which is the safer fuel? Earlier this year, natural gas explosions involving Columbia Gas in the Merrimack Valley area of North Andover and Lawrence, Massachusetts shed light on the dangers of natural gas heating. Multiple homes were destroyed and one person died as a result of these gas explosions.
So, we thought it would be a good idea to address this question about natural gas vs. oil differences in safety. How could a home explode and be leveled because of natural gas? Is oil heat any better? The fact is that oil is much, MUCH safer for heating your home than natural gas. In fact, safety is one of the primary selling points of choosing oil heat. But, we will go into 7 critical areas for why oil heat is safer than natural gas:
Oil vs Natural Gas: 7 Reasons Home Heating Oil is Safer
Heating Oil Is Not Flammable
When it comes to safety between oil vs natural gas, heating oil is tough to beat. Safety is usually one of the main reasons that a customer will turn to oil vs natural gas heating. Unlike natural gas, it is not combustible. Heating oil does not burn in a liquid state. Heating oil needs to be preheated to 140 degrees before it will burn. At room temperature, it is not flammable at all. And, it stays at room temperate while it is stored, waiting to be used by your heating system. This is probably the biggest difference between oil and gas heat.
Unlike natural gas, when combined with the air and oxygen that you breathe, heating oil cannot and will not light. When introduced to a lighted match at room temperature, heating oil will not be impacted. You could toss a lit match into your oil tank and nothing will happen while the oil is at room temperature. This means that the kind of explosions that occurred with natural gas are not possible with oil. When oil is properly stored in a durable oil tank, there is no threat of explosion.
Oil Smells, Gas Doesn’t
One of the problems with detecting gas leaks is that natural gas is odorless to the human senses. So, you wouldn’t be able to determine that a leak has occurred. Even if it doesn’t lead to an explosion, a natural gas leak can cause major health problems for people. This includes headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, or even death from carbon monoxide poisoning.
On the other hand, if there is a problem with your heating oil, you will be able to smell it clearly. This is a clear distinction between oil vs natural gas. Heating oil gives off a strong smell. Generally, heating oil systems give clear signs that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. And, the only leaks that happen with oil heating systems are ones that are not regularly maintained. For this reason, we encourage you to always get an annual heating tune-up of your oil burning furnace or boiler before every season.
No Threat of Explosion
As we discussed earlier, because heating oil is not combustible, there is not a threat of explosion. However, natural gas is extremely flammable and could ignite easily. If concentrated, explosions can occur. How could the natural gas become concentrated? If you have a leak in a gas pipe in your house, this could create a concentration of gas. If ignited, your home could be destroyed by a powerful explosion, much like what happened in the Columbia Gas explosions in North Andover and Lawrence.
No Pipeline – No Leaks
In order to use natural gas heating, you need to rely on a system of pipes underground that deliver the supply of natural gas to your home. If there are issues with the pipeline, you will not receive your heating fuel. The Columbia Gas customers in North Andover and Lawrence waited months before they had access to natural gas again. With winter approaching, this is a huge problem. Luckily, those explosions occurred in September, rather than the height of winter. Should a natural gas explosion occur in December through February, you will have a serious issue on your hands (not to mention any other damage or injuries). Even if your house isn’t affected directly, the pipeline could be damaged or incapacitated and oil could be prevented from reaching your home.
For oil heating fuel customers, there is no pipeline that they must rely on. Homeowners get regular oil deliveries from local oil delivery companies like Hall Oil Gas And Electric. Your home’s oil tank is localized to your home. No pipes coming in or out. Home heating oil customers can make one-time purchases each time they need oil, or they can take advantage of automatic heating oil delivery options. The latter option is sophisticated enough so that the local oil company can ensure their customers always have a steady supply of oil.
Carbon Monoxide Leaks
One of the biggest advantages of heating oil vs natural gas is the absence of CO2 emissions from natural gas combustion. If your natural gas heating system has a leak, it can create a very dangerous carbon monoxide situation for you and your family. In fact, natural gas heating systems are the 2nd leading cause of non-fire-related carbon monoxide deaths in the U.S.
On the other hand, there are no undetected carbon monoxide leaks with oil heating systems. As previously discussed, if there is a leak, it is easily detectable due to the smell. As a result, you know when there is an issue and can fix the problem immediately by contacting an HVAC professional like Hall Oil. This avoids major health problems for you and your loved ones.
Broken Gas Pipelines Take Weeks or Months to Fix
Much like the customers in Merrimack Valley found out, if there are problems with natural gas pipes, it can take weeks or months to fix. Do you really want to risk losing heat for months during the winter? For some people, this is just too big of a risk when deciding between oil vs natural gas heat.
If the natural gas pipeline bursts, your natural gas will not be able to get to you until the problem is fixed. Heating oil, on the other hand, is produced from crude oil, and it is plentiful. It is delivered to you by oil truck, so it is not dependent on any infrastructure. Homeowners who use home heating oil will likely not face a shortage of oil. Companies like Hall Oil also have a large storage supply of oil for emergencies as well. This makes heating oil a more reliable heating fuel than natural gas.
Cape Cod’s #1 Source of Safe Heating Oil: Hall Oil Gas And Electric
If you’re looking for a reliable heating oil supplier on Cape Cod, Hall Oil Gas And Electric is here for you. We deliver heating oil all over Cape Cod, from Mashpee to Hyannis to Truro, and everywhere in between. Hall Oil provides full-service automatic heating oil delivery to its customers to remove the hassle from heating your home during the winter. We monitor your oil usage and weather conditions to create a customized heating oil delivery schedule for you.
In addition, Hall Oil services and installs furnaces, boilers, water heaters, oil tanks, and other types of heating systems. Our fully trained and licensed HVAC specialists can make sure that all of your gas and oil burning systems are operating efficiently and safely.
Hall Oil has been a true family-owned business since 1918. We have a century of experience in meeting the home heating needs of our customers, and we look forward to another century. If you’re trying to decide how to heat your home this winter, contact Hall Oil to learn about what you should do. Whether it is signing up for automatic home heating oil delivery or a heating service plan, we would be happy to discuss your options with you. Visit us at our South Dennis office, call us at 508-398-3831, or contact us online below.