Why Replacing Oil Heating Systems with Gas is a Bad Idea
During the past few years, consumers have seen natural gas prices fall, largely thanks to the fracking boom happening in states as close and New York and Pennsylvania. This has led some homeowners to wonder if they should switch to a gas heating system. Although changing from one fuel to another may seem as simple as switching out the furnace and fuel tank, there are many other factors that could complicate the change and add significant cost with little efficiency gain.
Put simply, switching from oil to gas just to benefit from lower fuel prices won’t save you money in the long run. Here’s why:
Conversions don’t give you much efficiency
If you are looking simply to replace the burner on your oil furnace to a natural gas-fired burner, it will cost about $1,000. While this is less than installing an entirely new unit, it will not give you much in terms of efficiency. Natural gas does not burn as hot as fuel oil, so the temperature of the air coming from a forced hot air system will be about 15 degrees lower. Because of this, gas furnaces take longer to supply the heat and will run about 20 percent more.
New heating units are more efficient, whether oil or gas
If your oil furnace or boiler is 30 to 40 years old, you will be able to improve efficiency great, and can save 30 to 40 percent in annual heating costs, simply by installing a new oil furnace or boiler. In the 1970s, oil furnace and boiler manufacturers began producing units with flame-retention burners, which used less fuel to heat the home.
Oil units are also built tough. The standard life span for an oil-fired unit is typically 12 to 20 years, but we’ve seen furnaces and boilers last years beyond that.
Other more affordable steps can save you money
Are your windows old and draft? Does your attic need insulation? Is the duct work old and deteriorated? You can make these upgrades to your home and begin saving money on fuel without the hassle and expense of installing a new furnace or boiler.
Consider additional transition costs
If you switch from oil to gas, you will need to remove and dispose of the furnace and fuel oil tank. You could be required to call a professional to properly remove the system, which could cost between $600, and $2,000 depending on the contractor and area you are in.
You will also have to connect to the natural gas system, which typically runs under the street like other utilities. There is usually a one-time installation fee, based on how far the natural gas delivery company must dig from the street to your home to install the pipe. In some communities, there is an additional fee for digging up the road, which is usually passed on to the consumer. Of course, you may find natural gas service is not available in your area.
Depending on the system you install, there may need to be other upgrades made to the rest of your heating system, including lining of the chimney.
After years of declining gas prices thanks to the United States energy boom, we are finally seeing those cost translate into lower oil prices. This decline, along with other added costs, may not make natural gas the cost saver it appeared to be. For a consultation on your current oil heating system and how you can save money on energy costs, call M.L. Halle today.