Propane beats oil this year for cheapest heat
At the current price of $1.95 per gallon in Marlinton, propane is the cheapest way to heat your home. But price increases, that often occur during winter months, could make propane, heating oil and kerosene roughly equal in cost. Electricity maintains its position as the most expensive option.
The British Thermal Unit (BTU) is a measurement of energy.ﾠ One BTU is the amount of energy necessary to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. A typical home will require several million BTUs of heat throughout the winter, whatever the source.
Different types of fuel and furnaces operate at different levels of efficiency. Annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings were developed to measure a heating appliance's actual performance over an entire season.
A mid-efficiency propane heater operates at 79-85 percent AFUE, and a newer, condensing model between 90 to 97 percent. At the current Marlinton price of $1.95 per gallon, with a heater operating at 90 percent AFUE, one million BTU costs $23.83, making propane the cheapest option, right now.
Newer heating oil furnaces range from 70-89 percent AFUE efficiency. At the current Marlinton heating oil price of $2.85 per gallon, with an AFUE of 85 percent, one million BTU costs $24.14,ﾠ making oil the second-cheapest alternative.
Kerosene heaters typically operate at 85 percent AFUE. At the current price of $3.15 per gallon in Marlinton, one million BTU costs $27.42.
All heaters using electrical resistance operate at 100% efficiency, despite spurious claims from some manufacturers that their electrical heaters are more efficient than others.
In June, Allegheny Power increased the residential electrical rate to 9.58 cents per kilowatt hour, raising the price of one million BTU of electric heat to $28.07.
Firewood varies greatly in cost for county residents, ranging from free to $100 a cord. A cord is a pickup load, four feet wide by four feet high by eight feet long. A permit is available from the Forest Service for $25 to cut firewood (downed trees) from the National Forest.
For those able to work hard, loading and splitting, wood is a very economical heating choice.
Newer wood-burning stoves operate between 55-65 percent AFUE and a state-of-the-art model can achieve 75-90 percent AFUE. According to chimneysweeponline.com, one cord of white oak will produce 25.7 million BTUs. If burned in a 65 percent AFUE stove, at $50 per cord, one million BTUs will cost three dollars.
The BTU content of different types of wood varies greatly. A guide to the best and worst species for firewood can be found at www.chimneysweeponline.com.