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November 6th, 2008

How to Compare Heating Fuels

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The Energy Information Administration is one of those not-well-known government websites which offers a lot of useful information. Here you’ll find the latest statistics on energy sources and supplies and a lot of consumer how-to and where-to info.

There’s a large section devoted to renewable and alternative energy, which is going to be topical when Congress returns to this contentious issue.

The page that prompted this post is How do I compare heating fuels?:

When choosing a heating system for a new home or replacing an existing system, consumers often want to compare the cost of heating fuels. Because fuels are measured and sold in different units such as gallons of oil, therms of natural gas, or kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, comparing the price of dissimilar units is not useful.

A more useful comparison is the fuel cost per amount of heat produced. EIA’s Heating Fuel Comparison Calculator (Excel) helps you make this comparison. It factors in the relative price based on the fuel heat content and the heating appliance’s efficiency.

The Excel spreadsheet is pretty comprehensive. The calculator asks you to enter the costs for various kinds of heating fuel; you can compare sources like heating oil, electricity, natural gas and propane against wood, wood pellets, coal, kerosene, and even corn(!). If you don’t already know those costs, there are links to websites which can give you an idea.

Then you can see how various types of heating appliances — furnace, boiler, even geothermal and heat-pump systems — stack up. The bottom line tells you the dollar cost of each Fuel Price Per Million Btu.

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About the HSH Blog

HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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