Just before beginning this article, I checked the price of a gallon of heating oil. The full service oil company I shopped was at $3.65 for one gallon of oil at 139,400btu per gallon. Compare that to a $5.00 bag of Great American Brand premium pellet we have available today containing 8,000 btu per pound. After some simple math (8000btux40#=320000/139400=2.3gal) it is determined that the bag of pellet fuel is the equivalent of roughly 2.3 gallons of oil. You need to buy $8.40 of oil to equal a $5.00 bag of pellets making pellets 40% +/- less expensive than oil per measure. This is a cost comparison done today using real market prices. Although there have been a handful of exceptions, pellets have historically maintained a cost advantage per btu over fuel oil. If you were considering a pellet central heater, the only thing left to consider is the efficiency of each device to calculate the overall savings as compared to your existing system.
Under the correct circumstances your fuel savings can be even greater when you compare central heat to a pellet stove installed in your living space. Remember, a pellet stove is a zone heater. It heats more efficiently because it is directly in your living space. There is no heat lost in the delivery and central heaters can loose 30% efficiency or more that way. So even if the price per btu were equal between oil and pellet, you would still save a significant amount of money burning pellet because of the inherent efficiency of the zone heater. Zone heating is considered by many to be a superior form of heat because it results in warm and cozy living areas while outlying areas such as bedrooms are left cooler for sleeping comfort. The more open your floor plan is, the more you can benefit from zone heating.
Either way, weather it is a pellet stove or a pellet central heater you can burn an environmentally friendly fuel and be warmer for less money for many years to come. In addition,folks who heat with electricity or propane in the Connecticut market can save even more money than oil users.