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What is the most efficient fuel for heating?

Red radiant in floor heating tubing laid out and stapled to floor

Types of Heating Fuels: A Comparison

Heating fuels are a necessity in cold climates. But, there are so many types of heating fuels to choose from! How can you decide which one is best for your home ? We will compare the four main types and discuss their pros and cons. As we go through our list, keep this question in mind: “What type of fuel would I like to use?”

Natural Gas

The natural gas we used to cook our meals and heat our homes comes from a variety of sources. The largest component, methane is found in both land-based deposits as well sea sediments but can also exist alongside crude oil or coalbed methane depending on where it’s located within these layers:

Methane isn’t always easy to find – its presence often goes unnoticed until someone drills down too far into the ground without noticing all that built-up pressure pushing up behind them!


  • Relatively cheap to install and maintain
  • Only emits CO² when burned which can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) if used in a modern high-efficiency appliance
  • Easy to find and relatively safe when used correctly


  • Non-renewable fuel
  • Methane, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), is present at 80-95 percent.
  • Can explode and, therefore, can be dangerous.

Propane (LP)

Propane is a fossil fuel that’s been processed, so it becomes a liquid. The two most common types are propane and butane. It has many uses, including heating and cooking. LP is available in most countries, and it’s a relatively clean fuel. One disadvantage is that it can be expensive to install, depending on your location.


  • Available in most areas
  • Clean burning fuel with low emissions
  • Can be used for cooking and heating


  • Can be expensive to install, depending on your location
  • When burned, it emits greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO²) and water vapor (H²O) which can contribute to global warming
Inside a gas furnace heating a home


Electricity is becoming an increasingly popular heating fuel. In some places, it can be used as a primary or secondary heating source. It’s relatively clean and easily available for most people. The major concern with using electricity to heat your home is safety: if there’s a power outage during winter, you could run into trouble if you don’t have a backup! Don’t forget that electric furnaces need venting outside.


  • Relatively easy to install and maintain
  • Low installation cost in most cases


  • If there’s a power outage, you could run into trouble exposure in your own home during winter. Make sure you have a backup electricity source or working fireplace!
  • Incomplete combustion can release nitrogen oxides (NO) which contribute to smog and acid rain
  • High emissions of carbon dioxide (CO²) from the generating plants

Heating Oil

Heating oil is a liquid product derived from petroleum distillation as one of the byproducts in crude Oil. It has properties similar to diesel, but there can be some variation within its composition and uses depending on what you’re looking for with your engine’s fuel system- it will help power everything ranging from cars all the way up to large industrial machines!


  • Relatively easy to find and install
  • Can be used for cooking when needed (not many other heating fuels can do that)
  • If you have a separate storage tank, it might be cheaper than electricity in some cases because oil is usually priced by volume rather than being metered like electricity


  • Can be expensive to maintain, depending on your system
  • Non-renewable energy


Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel in the world. It’s used to generate electricity and to heat homes and businesses. Coal is a dirty fuel, and it emits large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO²) when burned.


  • Relatively cheap to produce
  • Available in most countries


  • Emits large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO²) when burned, which contributes to global warming
  • Dirty fuel – contains large amounts of ash, sulfur, and other pollutants that can cause respiratory problems and acid rain formation
Red radiant in floor heating tubing laid out and stapled to floor


Burning wood is a common way to heat homes in many parts of the world, and it has been used for centuries. It’s renewable, but there are concerns about its sustainability and environmental impact (e.g., deforestation, soil erosion).


  • A Renewable fuel source – can be harvested sustainably if managed properly
  • can emit some heat when burned without the use of a secondary heating system like coal or oil.


  • Large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO²) can be emitted when harvesting and processing wood.
  • Deforestation causes loss of habitat for many animals, soil erosion, and runoff that pollutes waterways

Get In Touch With Our Team Today

If you’re looking for a heating fuel that is renewable and has low emissions, consider contact us to learn more about the different heating fuels. For a more professional take on heating your home, our experts at Ideal Services are here to help. We offer a variety of heating fuel options, and we can help you find the best system for your home and budget. Give us a call today at (919) 283-3512 !