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Fuel Cost Comparison Chart Helpful Tool

Compare fuel, capital and labor costs when deciding whether to replace your heating system.

A fuel cost comparison chart is invaluable if you are thinking about replacing your heating system and want to determine the most cost-effective fuel source, a North Dakota State University energy expert advises.

“Fuel types are sold in different quantities, making comparisons difficult,” says Carl Pedersen, NDSU Extension Service energy educator. “By comparing various prices of fuels and heating efficiencies, you can determine which option is best for your situation.”

For example, a number of people use corn stoves in their homes. With the price of a bushel of corn hovering around $5, they might be asking themselves if burning corn is costing them more than traditional heating sources would. By using a fuel cost comparison chart, you can determine that corn at $4.98 a bushel burning at 65 percent efficiency is equivalent to electric heat at 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour or a highly efficient (90 percent-plus) stove burning propane at $1.37 per gallon.

Fuel costs are not the only factor when comparing home heating systems, however. Capital and labor costs also need to be considered, Pedersen says. Comparing highly efficient units with older, less efficient models of heating also can be beneficial.

A well-insulated, 1,500-square-foot home in North Dakota will require about 80 million British thermal units (Btu) of heat in a year’s time. By determining the cost of those Btu for each type of fuel, you can calculate annual costs and annual savings for installing a new heating system.

Take an average 1,500-square-foot home heated with propane as an example. If propane costs $2.02 per gallon, the average cost of heating the home would be $2,342 per year with a 75 percent efficient furnace and $1,909 per year with a 92 percent efficient furnace, a cost difference of $433 per year.

“Using these calculations, you can determine the time required to recoup the costs of replacing an older furnace,” Pedersen says.

For more information and a detailed chart showing fuel cost comparisons, visit

If you have any questions on this or any other energy-related topic, contact Pedersen at (701) 231-5833 or

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Carl Pedersen, (701) 231-5833,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391,
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