Home Heating - Converting from Oil to Gas

Overview

What’s better: gas or oil? Is gas less expensive? How do you save money on home heating? To understand your choices, first consider the price of gas and oil. The cost of oil and gas heating systems can vary drastically from place to place; contact your local gas company for the average cost of natural gas in your area. Second, consider the efficiency of your current heater. Older oil furnaces are typically between 70 and 80 percent efficient. Newer oil units are around 85 percent efficient. Modern gas units range anywhere from 83 to 95 percent efficiency.

A Home Gas Line

Gas heating units require an installed gas line on your property. Look for a gas meter outside and gas piping in the machine-room area of the home. If a gas line isn’t already installed, you’ll need one installed, running underground to your home. A plumber or HVAC contractor can work with you and the gas company to create a budget.

If there’s already a gas main line on your street, the gas company will install the underground pipe at little or no charge. If gas is not on the street or nearby, the cost is usually prohibitive. A gas company may install a main line if enough nearby residents are also interested in installing gas.

If you decide to convert to gas heating, there are three main approaches for making the switch.

  1. Replace the Burner: If your gas boiler is relatively new and in good condition, you may not want to replace the entire unit. The most economical option in this case is to simply replace the burner. Gas burner replacements are available for most name brand boilers and furnaces and can be installed in just one to two days. This option is not always the most economical in the long run. Before replacement, have your chimney inspected by a qualified professional: a stainless steel liner may be needed. 
  2. Replace the Unit: You may want to replace your entire boiler or furnace with a standard gas unit if your current heating system is outdated and inefficient. This option takes two to three days. As with option one, chimney inspection may be necessary. During the installation, it may be a good idea to set up other gas connections for additional appliances (gas cooktop, outdoor grill, gas clothes dryer, etc.).
  3. High Efficiency Furnace Replacement: For the best long term energy-savings, consider replacing an old furnace or boiler with a high efficiency condensing unit. These also take two to three days to install and they boast 96 percent efficiency. The unit will include a plastic pipe stack that will go through an exterior wall. In addition, a condensate neutralization system will be required. Consider setting up other gas connections for additional appliances (gas cooktop, outdoor grill, gas clothes dryer, etc.).  

Once the new unit is up and running, remember to disable the oil fill pipe and contact your oil company to stop delivery. When all that’s done you can finally sit back and enjoy your lowered heating costs.    


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