The relative costs using different fuels to heat your home

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Energy Conservation

In a previous article we calculated that an oil boiler in an average sub-urban house during an average winter evening will burn 1.48 Litres of oil per hour of operation, costing €1.20, at current prices. But what would it cost to heat the same house with the other available fuels? Below is a summary of average home heating fuel costs, with the cheapest first.

  1. Scrap timber in wood stove with back boiler = free
  2. Wood pellets, bulk delivery = € 0.65/ hour
  3. Coal in efficient stove= € 0.72/ hour
  4. Natural gas = € 0.77/ hour
  5. Peat Briquettes in efficient stove = €0.90/ hour
  6. Electric night time storage heaters = € 1.17/hour
  7. Condensing oil boiler = €1.20/ hour
  8. Bottled propane = € 1.42/ hour
  9. Electric heater, day rate = €2.65/ hour
  10. Bottled butane = € 2.67/ hour

Examining the costs, apart from using scrap timber in a stove, it would seem that wood pellets are the cheapest fuel to heat your home with. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that the set up costs are high. A modern auger fed wood pellet boiler with adjacent pellet store could cost as much as €12,000 to buy and install compared with approx. €2,750 for a modern high specification condensing oil boiler and tank. Grants are available for both from the SEI at present. But the wood pellet boiler will be burning a sustainable fuel and over the longer term will be the cheapest option.


  • The above figures are based on data in the SEAI website, dated Nov. 2010
  • I have assumed that the coal and briquettes will be burned in an enclosed stove with 80% efficiency and that the gas, oil, timber pellets fuels and electric storage heater (night) will have 90% efficiency. The electric heater (day) is assumed to be 100% efficient.
  • There is a 30 min warm up time for the wood pellets before each use, which uses fuel, not included here.

Inside a wood pellet boiler

3 thoughts on “The relative costs using different fuels to heat your home

  1. very useful information. Is using an open fire of coal and some wood, with a back boiler very inefficient? Would it be worth the cost of replacing the open fire with a stove?

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