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Personal: Residential

Compare Annual Heating Costs of Heating Systems and Energy Savings

The annual heating cost is determined by the combination of annual heating load, energy source and equipment efficiency. To determine the savings you could expect if you upgrade your current system, you can use the formulas for each energy source or use our heating calculator.

Upgrading an oil system

If you are thinking of converting your oil furnace to a more efficient oil heating system, you may be interested in determining the savings you could expect. Table 1 and the following formula can provide you with reasonably accurate figures. You need to know your annual fuel cost and the type of heating technology you are using.

Annual $ Savings = A – B
———— X C
A

A = Seasonal efficiency of proposed system
B = Seasonal efficiency of existing system
C = Present annual fuel cost

Example: How much would you save by changing from an old oil furnace to a new oil furnace with a high-static burner at 85 percent efficiency, if your present annual fuel cost is $1, 205? The seasonal efficiency of the new furnace with a high-static burner is taken to be 85 percent, and the present oil furnace efficiency is 60 percent. Hence, A = 85%, B = 60%, C = $1, 205.

Annual $ savings = 85 – 60
————— X 1205 = $354
85

In this example you would save $354 per year with this new oil furnace.

Table 1 - Typical Heating System Efficiencies and Energy Savings
Energy Source Technology Seasonal Efficiency (AFUE) % Energy Savings % of Base*
Oil Cast-iron head burner (old furnace) 60 Base
Flame-retention head replacement burner 70–78 14–23
High-static replacement burner 74–82 19–27
New standard model 78–86 23–30
Mid-efficiency furnace 83–89 28–33
Integrated space/tap water (mid-efficiency) 83–89 28–33 space
40–44 water
Natural
Gas
Conventional 60 Base
Vent damper with non-continuous pilot light 62–67 3–10
Mid-efficiency 78–84 23–28
High-efficiency condensing furnace 89–97 33–38
Integrated space/tap water (condensing) 89–96 33–38 space
44–48 water
Electricity Electric baseboards 100  
Electric furnace or boiler 100  
Air-source heat pump 1.7 COP**  
Earth-energy system
(ground-source heat pump)
2.6 COP**  
Propane Conventional 62 Base
Vent damper with non-continuous pilot light 64–69 3–10
Mid-efficiency 79–85 21–27
Condensing 87–94 29–34
Wood Central furnace 45–55  
Conventional stove (properly located) 55–70  
“High-tech ”stove*** (properly located) 70–80  
Advanced combustion fireplace 50–70  
Pellet stove 55–80  
* "Base" represents the energy consumed by a standard furnace.
** COP =Coefficient of performance, a measure of the heat delivered by a heat pump over the heating season per unit of electricity consumed.
*** CSA B415 or EPA Phase II tested.

Upgrading a Gas System

If you are thinking of converting your gas furnace to a more efficient gas heating system, you may be interested in determining the savings you could expect. Table 2 and the following formula can provide you with reasonably accurate figures. You need to know your annual fuel cost and the type of heating technology you are using.

Annual $ Savings = A – B
———— X C
A

A = Seasonal efficiency of proposed system
B = Seasonal efficiency of existing system
C = Present annual fuel cost

Example: How much would you save by changing from a conventional gas furnace to a high-efficiency gas furnace at 96 percent efficiency if your present annual gas cost for space heating is $800?

The seasonal efficiency of the new condensing furnace is 96 percent, and the efficiency of your present gas furnace is 60 percent. Hence, A =96 percent, B =60 percent C =$800.

Annual $ Savings = 96 – 60
————— X 800 = $300
96

In this example, you would save $300 a year in energy costs and you would eliminate the need for a chimney.

Table2. Gas Heating Appliances – Features and Efficiency Ranges
Type Features Seasonal
Efficiency
(AFUE) (%)
Conventional furnace1
  • chimney
  • draft hood
  • with continuously lit pilot light
  • with electronic ignition and vent damper
60
62–67
Conventional boiler1
  • chimney
  • draft hood
  • with continuously lit pilot light
  • with electronic ignition and vent damper
55–65
60–70
Standard-efficiency furnace1
  • chimney or side wall vent
  • draft hood
  • electric ignition
  • powered exhaust
78–84
Standard-efficiency boiler1
  • similar to mid-efficiency furnace
80–88
Condensing furnace2
  • no chimney
  • no draft hood
  • electric ignition
  • multi-stage heat exchanger
  • condenses water vapour from flue gases
  • PVC or ABS flue pipe to side wall
90–97
Condensing boiler 2
  • similar to condensing furnace
89–99
Conversion burners for oil equipment1
  • chimney
  • pilot light or electric ignition
  • special barometric damper or draft hood
63–68
Direct-vent wall furnace1
  • vent
  • sealed combustion
  • pilot light or electric ignition
70–82
Room heaters1
  • vent
  • pilot light or electric ignition
  • draft hood or sealed combustion
60–82
1If this appliance is fired with propane rather than natural gas, add 2 percent to the efficiency.
2 If a condensing appliance is fired with propane rather than natural gas, subtract 2 percent from the efficiency.

Changing Your Energy Source

You can use the following procedure to compare the cost of heating with various energy sources, such as oil, electricity, natural gas, propane or wood. First, find out the cost of the energy sources you wish to compare and decide what types of heating technologies you might wish to use.

Determine the Price of Energy Sources in Your Area

Call your local fuel and electricity suppliers to find out the cost of energy sources in your area. This should be the total cost delivered to your home, and it should include any basic cost that some suppliers might charge, along with necessary rentals, such as a propane tank. Be sure to get the prices for the energy sources in the same units as shown in Table 3. Write the costs in the spaces provided. If your local natural gas price is given in gigajoules (GJ) , you can convert it to cubic metres (m3) by multiplying the price per GJ by 0. 0375. For example, $5.17/GJ x 0. 0375 = $0.19/m3.

Table 3. Energy Content and Local Price of Various Energy Sources
Energy Soure Energy Content Local Unit Price
  Metric Imperial  
Electricity 3.6 MJ/kWh 3 413 Btu/kWh $0._____ /kWh
Oil 38.2 MJ/litre 140 000 Btu/gal (US) $0._____ /litre
Natural Gas 37.5 MJ/m³ 1 007 Btu/ft³ $0._____m³
Propane 25.3 MJ/litre 92 700 Btu/gal (US) $0._____litre
Hardwood* 30 600 MJ/cord 28 000 000 Btu/cord _____$/cord
Softwood* 18 700 MJ/cord 17 000 000 Btu/cord _____$/cord
Wood Pellets 19 800 MJ/cord 20 000 000 Btu/cord _____$/cord
Conversion: 1000 MJ= 1 gigajoule (GJ)
* The figure provided for wood are for a "full" cord, measuring
1.2m x 1.2m x 2.4m (4 ft. x 4 ft. x 8ft.)

Select the Type of Heating Equipment

Choose the type of equipment you want to compare from the list of equipment types in Table 2. Note the efficiency figures in the column titled Seasonal Efficiency. Using these figures, you can calculate the savings you can achieve by upgrading an older system to a newer, more energy-efficient one or by choosing higher efficiency equipment with alternative energy sources.

Determine Your Home’s Annual Heating Load

If you know your heating bill and the unit cost of your energy source, you can determine your Annual Heating Load in gigajoules from the following equation. Or you may wish to use our Heating cost calculator.

Annual Heating Load = Heating Bill      Seasonal Efficiency
——————  x  ——————————  x  Energy Content
100 000          Energy Cost/Unit

If you don’t have a heating bill, you can estimate your annual heating load in GJ from Table 4by selecting the house type and location that is closest to your own.

If your bill also includes tap water heating from the same energy source, and even equipment rentals, you can still calculate your annual heating load, but it will require a little more care and calculation to separate out only your heating portion.

Example - Oil : You have an oil bill of $1,220, an oil cost of $0.329/litre and an old conventional oil furnace and burner with a seasonal efficiency of 60 percent.

Annual Heating Load =  1220                   60
————  x  ——————————  x 38.2 = 85 GJ
100 000       Energy Cost/Unit

Example - Natural Gas: Your annual bill for space heating with natural gas is $687, gas costs $0.22/m3, and you have an old conventional gas furnace with a seasonal efficiency of 60 percent. The energy content of natural gas is 37.5 MJ/m3.

Annual Heating Load =   687                   60
————  x  ——————————  x 37.5 = 70 GJ
100 000       Energy Cost/Unit

The annual heating cost is calculated as follows:

Energy Cost/Unit        Annual Heating Load
Heating Cost = —————————–  x  ———————————  x  100,000 = $
Energy Content         Seasonal Efficiency

Enter the cost per unit of energy and divide it by the energy content of the energy source; both numbers come from Table 3.

Select the annual heating load for your type of housing and location from Table 4; divide it by the seasonal efficiency of the proposed heating system from Table 1 or 2.

Multiply the results of these two calculations, then multiply that result by 100 000. The result should give you an approximate heating cost for your house. If you know your actual annual heating costs, as well as the type of heating system you have, you can modify the heating load originally taken from Table 4 to suit your specific house.

Sample Calculation - Oil : You have a new semi-detached home in Fort McMurray and you would like to find out what the annual heating cost would be with a standard-efficiency oil furnace at 83 percent efficiency. To use the above formula, we can define the cost of oil as $0.30/L, the house heating load as 80 and the energy content as 38.2.

$0.30           80
Annual cost of oil heating = —————  x  ———  x  100,000 = $757
38.2            83

Sample Calculation - Gas : You have an old detached home in Edmundston, and you would like to find out what the annual heating cost would be with a high-efficiency condensing natural gas furnace at 96 percent efficiency with gas costing $0.18/m3. The house heating load is 120 GJ, and the energy content is 37.5 MJ/m3.

$0.18           120
Annual cost of gas heating = —————  x  ———  x  100,000 = $600
37.5             83

Sample Calculation - Electricity : You have an new detached home in Toronto and you would like to know what it would cost you annually to heat your dwelling with an electric force-air system with a seasonal efficiency of 100 per cent. Using the above equation, use an electricity cost of $0.0826/kWh, a heating load of 80 and an energy content of 3.6.

$0.0826          80
Annual cost of heating with electricity = —————  x  ———  x  100,000 = $1835.55
3.6             100

To compare your heating cost to those of other types of heating systems or energy sources, replace the numbers in the formula with the appropriate ones for your comparison using Table 1 or 2. and Table 3. Or you may wish to use our Heating Cost Calculator.

Table 4. Typical Annual Heating Loads in Gigajoules (GJ) for Various Housing Types in Canadian Cities
City
Old Detached New Detached New Semi-Detached Town-house
Victoria 85 60 45 30
Prince George 150 110 80 60
Calgary 120 90 65 50
Edmonton 130 95 70 55
Fort McMurray/
Prince Albert
140 105 80 60
Regina/Saskatoon/
Winnipeg
130 90 70 50
Whitehorse 155 115 85 60
Yellowknife 195 145 110 80
Thunder Bay 130 95 70 55
Sudbury 120 90 65 50
Ottawa 110 75 55 40
Toronto 95 65 45 35
Windsor 80 55 40 30
Montréal 110 80 60 45
Québec 115 85 65 50
Chicoutimi 125 90 70 55
Saint John 105 75 60 45
Edmundston 120 90 65 50
Charlottetown 110 80 60 45
Halifax 100 75 55 40
St. John's 120 85 60 45

Note:New”means houses built in 1990 or later, and ”old”means houses built before 1990. Due to construction practices, "weatherizing " and re-insulating (which can be different from house to house), these figures are meant to be used only as general guidelines; they should not substitute for an accurate heating requirement determination.

Assumptions:
Old detached – approximately 186 m2 (2000 sq. ft.)
New detached – approximately 186 m2 (2000 sq. ft.)
New semi-detached – approximately 139 m2 (1500 sq. ft.)
Townhouse – inside unit, approximately 93 m2 (1000 sq. ft.)

Use our Heating Cost Calculator