The Oil Burning Furnace Comes into the 21st Century

No longer an intimidating metal octopus lurking in the basement, a modern oil burning furnace may not be what you expect. Learn more about the pros and cons of more recent developments in this heating system.


Advantages of New Oil Burning Furnaces

  • The biggest advantage is probably in regions where the number one fuel choice, natural gas, is not available.

  • The second fuel choice, electricity, is a secondary energy source (meaning that it is produced by some other energy, such as the burning of coal or diesel) and more likely to be less competitive in areas where no hydroelectrically is produced.

  • A third advantage may be found where alternative heating fuels (pellets, wood, etc.) are not available or local regulations do not permit them due to air quality standards. Within a city or large town, the burning of wood may be prohibitive simply due to difficulty in obtaining it or storage may be at a premium.

  • Some oil burning furnaces can now make use of waste food and automotive oils. Individuals or organizations with access to large fleets or businesses regularly disposing of these can save a lot on fuel expenses.

  • New designs have improved efficiency to levels more competitive with electricity and natural gas.

  • New designs are more space-efficient and more easily accessed and maintained. Their outward appearance is very similar to modern gas or electric furnaces.

Disadvantages of the Oil Burning Furnace

  • Electric and gas furnaces are still more efficient than oil.

  • Oil, due to its makeup and burning characteristics, tends to leave solids on igniters, burning jets and firebox areas. This can cause more wear and even more fouling, diminished efficiency and lowered life-expectancy of the unit. Thus, oil burning furnaces demand more attention to cleaning and maintenance.

  • Those that use waste oils demand special care in collection and preparation of the oil. Particulates, pollutants and moisture will tend to collect during their initial use and subsequent storage. These can reduce efficiency, cause premature fouling and more wear, and also demand special service calls and other expenses.

  • Spills and storage tank issues can be expensive to remediate. In some instances, damaged and leaking tanks can cost significant amounts in the removal and disposal of both tank and contaminated soil. There can also be fines involved, depending on circumstances.

Any Oil Burning Furnace Best Overseen by Professionals


The final advantage of an oil burning furnace is that it can be installed, serviced and repaired by the same HVAC technician who works on any other kind of furnace.

It should be noted that any furnace improves in overall efficiency when ducting and venting is properly installed and maintained. When considering upgrading or switching to oil, contact your local professional and get advice on practical considerations that might affect your choice. He can also provide a home energy efficiency audit to discover situations to address that might save you on heating expenses.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Alley and Co. Heating/Air and a clickable link back to this page.

List of Cities We Service:

Antelope, Arden, Auburn, Cameron Park, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Diamond Springs, El Dorado Hills, Elk Grove , Foothill Farms, Fair Oaks, Florin, Folsom, Galt, Greenhaven, Granite Bay, Gold River, Laguna, Lincoln, Lodi, Morada, Natomas (North & South), North Highlands, Orangevale, Placerville, Pocket, Rancho Cordova, Rio Linda, Rosemont, Roseville, Sacramento (North, South, East, and West), Shingle Springs, Sloughhouse, Stockton