When choosing the right type of energy for your business, there are a lot of factors to consider. Convenience, price, efficiency, safety – not every type of energy is equal. Every energy source has its advantages and disadvantages, which is why business owners need to make a smart, cost-effective decision to prevent their energy budget from going in the red.

To help commercial businesses make this decision between heating oil or propane, consider the pros and cons for each.

Heating Oil

The infrastructure to mine, process, transport, and use heating oil has been a staple in our culture for decades, which makes using oil to heat our homes and offices an easy choice.


  • Safety – Oil doesn’t leak carbon monoxide as gas could. When propane leaks, it’s hard to detect and can leak carbon monoxide. When oil leaks, it’s visible, easier to detect, and doesn’t leak any harmful gases.
  • It’s efficient – Compared to propane and natural gas, heating oil is a higher-density energy product, which means a small amount of oil can produce more energy for a longer period of time.
  • It generates more heat than propane – Heating oil can produce approximately 130,000 BTUs, while propane produces approximately 95,000 BTUs. This means that heating oil can heat your office at a faster rate than propane.


  • It’s a finite, volatile resource – Most of our heating oil supply comes from offshore suppliers, which means the availability and cost depend on a number of variables out of our control.
  • It has a high rate of pollution – Since 2010, more than 9 million gallons of crude oil have spilled from transportation pipelines in the U.S. Oil spills happen, and when they do, they can be devastating to our environment.
  • Oil tanks need refilled and cleaned regularly – The maintenance aspect is more involved than propane. While both propane and heating oil tanks require refilling, heating oil tanks also need regular cleaning to prevent clogs and leaks.



Propane is a by-product of petroleum and is widely used for heating businesses, powering appliances, and even powering vehicles. Propane is considered one of the most efficient and clean-burning sources of energy, which makes it very popular for business owners.


  • It’s versatile – Propane can not only heat your place of business, but it can also run your break room/kitchen appliances as well.
  • The environmental impact – Propane is clean burning and produces fewer emissions than oil.
  • Propane furnace is efficient and cost-effective – While oil is a denser energy product and can burn longer than propane, a propane furnace is widely considered to be more efficient than an oil furnace. An oil furnace’s efficiency rating is typically around 60 percent while a propane furnace has an efficiency rating around 90 percent.


  • Upfront costs – Over the long haul, propane is cheaper and a more efficient source of energy, but the upfront costs to install propane as your energy source is costly. This includes purchasing a tank, furnace, gas lines, and filling the tank.
  • Price fluctuation – Despite propane being a domestic energy product, it’s subject to frequent price fluctuations due to the volatile market, transportation costs, petroleum supply, and weather.
  • Tank maintenance and safety – Just like heating oil, propane must be stored at the location of your business. But unlike heating oil, a leak from a propane tank can be far more serious. Regular maintenance to the tank and the lines is a must to ensure it can be safely used.


Choosing an energy source for your place of business takes a lot of thought and consideration. How else can you ensure that you’re making a cost-effective decision that will fit within your energy budget? For more information on the benefits and negatives of heating oil and propane, or to learn about natural gas as another option, give us a call at 1-800-427-8545, or visit the commercial energy section on our website.