Reducing Your Heating Bill: Oil vs. Pellets

If you live in a cold climate, then you are probably aware of the costs that go into keeping your space comfortable.

These heating expenses can be a significant concern for both home and business owners alike, especially in the coldest winter months. While many choose to offset their high heating bills by supplementing their space with cost-effective additional units, such as heating stoves, there still remains the question of what kind of heating is most cost-effective and the best fit for you and your home.

To help you make an informed decision, we will compare various aspects of oil and pellet heating, their efficiency, environmental impact and which option can save you the most on your heating expenses.

What is Pellet Fuel?

Pellet fuel is a type of biomass fuel made by compressing organic material, like sawdust, wood chips or agricultural waste, then processing the material and forming it into small, uniform pellets. The pellets are meant to be used in specially designed pellet stoves or fireplace inserts, which are specifically engineered to efficiently and cleanly burn the fuel to heat the interior of a building.

Pellets are a very popular source of supplemental heating due to their cost-effectiveness, effortless cleanup and ease of use. Users simply feed the pellets into the hopper located on the top of the stove and the fuel is funneled into the firebox for a no-fuss, convenient heating solution.

Unlike fossil fuels like oil, pellets are a renewable and sustainable form of energy. Homeowners can have peace of mind knowing that their heat directly reduces their carbon footprint and contributes to a more environmentally-friendly heating solution.


What is Heating Oil?

Mainly used as a heating fuel in the Northeastern United States, heating oil is a non-renewable resource derived from petroleum that is burned in furnaces and oil-fired boilers. 

Heating with oil comes with its downsides. Heating oil fuel is expensive, especially in contrast to sustainable, biomass alternatives such as wood and pellets. Unlike biomass fuels, which are normally unchanged by the fluctuation of the economy, heating oil experiences extreme price volatility.

Furthermore, the “combustion of heating oil contributes to air pollution, global warming, and climate change” according to the Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality. Heating oil is linked to negative impacts on the environment—specifically, wildlife, water and the atmosphere—and human health.


Is Heating with Pellets Cheaper than Heating With Oil? 

Generally, yes. While the price of wood pellets can vary by location and manufacturer, they usually cost less than heating oil, especially since oil experiences volatility in price. Not only are pellets cheaper, but they burn much more efficiently and consistently than does oil.

In many regions of the country, it is not uncommon to spend $5 dollars for a single gallon of oil, while the average cost for a ton of pellets is around $300. To put those prices in perspective, a ton of pellets would have to be $500 to equal the current cost of oil, making pellets the clear heating bill cost-saver.

Additionally, there is a federal tax credit available to owners of qualifying pellet-burning stoves for even more cost savings. Forge & Flame offers a robust line of qualifying wood and pellet stoves and inserts from top hearth brands Harman, Vermont Castings and Quadra-Fire.


3 Tips for Increasing Your Home’s Heating Efficiency

In addition to a cost-effective and sustainable pellet-burning stove, there are several other ways to increase your home or business’s heating efficiency and optimize your energy consumption to keep even more money in your pocket. Here are a few:

Zone Heating

Utilizing the zone heating method in your home allows you to heat specific areas of your home as needed and avoid wasting energy to heat spaces that are not being used. Simply close off unused rooms to keep the warm air in the areas where you spend the most time.

Home Energy Audit

Conducting a home energy audit can help you identify areas of inefficiency in your space. Home energy audits are usually offered by local energy companies to evaluate the efficiency of your home. Leaks, broken windows, poor insulation and damaged weatherstripping or caulking can be sources of heat loss that waste fuel and cost you money.

High-Efficiency Heater

Upgrading to a high-efficiency pellet stove or insert can maximize your heat output, minimize your energy consumption and not only lower the cost of your heating bills, but mitigate your environmental impact as well.

To learn more about how to boost heating efficiency, visit our blog, Five Ways to Winterize Your Home.


Using Pellets to Efficiently Heat Your Home

An image of a person holding a handful of wood pellets

In order to efficiently heat your home with a pellet-burning stove there are a few factors to take into consideration.

Location — The availability of pellets can vary depending on where you are in the world. In North America, you can often find them in specialty hearth stores and farm stores, such as Tractor Supply.

Installation — Properly installing your pellet heating system is crucial for both efficiency and effectiveness and is a job that requires professional expertise. A correctly-installed pellet heating unit that is strategically placed will perform better and ensure optimal heating. To find an installer near you, visit our Find a Dealer page.

Technology — Modern pellet stoves featuring the latest updates and innovations, will always outperform and be more energy-efficient than older, out-dated models.


5 Benefits of Heating with a Pellet Stove or Insert

The benefits of a pellet stove or insert are numerous, but here are five of our favorites:

  • Cost Savings — Heating with a pellet stove or insert can save you money on your utility bills, especially when compared to oil, gas or electricity.
  • Efficiency — Pellet products sold in the U.S. are EPA-certified to meet specific qualifications for emissions and efficiency. Harman and Quadra-Fire stoves, in particular, are so efficient, there’s very little ash to clean up afterward.
  • Dependability — Pellet stoves are highly reliable and long-lasting. When properly maintained, a stove can last between 10–20 years before needing to be replaced.
  • Engineering Excellence — Forge & Flame products are built to meticulous standards. The exclusive features on Harman and Quadra-Fire stoves and inserts are designed for quick and easy maintenance, durability and optimal heat output.

Where Can I Buy a Pellet Burning Stove?

If you’ve been convinced by the convenience and cost-saving features of pellet fuel, then you’re in the right place.

Forge & Flame pellet stoves and inserts are the perfect blend of performance and engineering excellence. As the leading manufacturer of premium pellet stoves and inserts, we are confident that our energy-efficient, exclusive products can provide you the supplemental heating you need while saving money and energy.

Follow the link to find a Forge & Flame pellet stove dealer near you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

At what temperature should I keep my home?

The ideal temperature for efficient home heating will vary depending on your personal comfort preferences and your energy goals. Typically a temperature of 72 degrees is optimal for comfort and energy savings.

Can I use pellet stoves in a commercial space?

Yes! Check the size of your commercial space and be sure to choose an appliance that is capable of heating an area of that size. For more insight into what appliance would be the best fit for your commercial space, contact your local authorized Forge & Flame dealer.

Which pellet stove is right for my home?

That will depend on factors such as the size of the area you are trying to heat and the venting options that are available. For more in-depth insight into choosing the right appliance for your space, contact your local authorized Harman dealer or visit our blog, Which Pellet Stove or Fireplace Insert is Right For You?

How long will my pellet stove last?

If properly maintained, your pellet stove should last between 10–20 years.