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
If you decide to convert to gas heating, there are three
main approaches for making the switch.
- 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.
- 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heating system is outdated and inefficient.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,
- 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
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.