Annual fuel and energy consumptions and CO2 and SO2 emissions of various fuel (natural gas, fuel oil, coal, lignite, electricity) and system alternatives (individual, central, district) for hot water and space heating are compared. Further, detailed economical analyses illustrate the dependency of the life cycle costs on fuel and system types, building size and location, inflation and interest rates. It is found that natural gas systems lead in all respects, but fuel oil systems follow closely in many cases. Coal and lignite cannot compete at all, except possibly lower SO2 emissions of imported low-S coal in comparison to typical fuel oils. Direct electrical heating and even electrical heat pumps should be discouraged because of their markedly inferior performance. Also, district and central systems could provide savings (about 20% and 5%, respectively) in comparison to individual systems using identical energy resources.