Three Reasons To Switch From Oil To Natural Gas And High Efficiency Heating Equipment

Originally published: Monday, October 29, 2012 At 4:00PM

Winter is coming and the cost of comfort is rising. For many, an oil to gas conversion this autumn may mean thousands saved this winter. Here are three reasons to make the switch from heating oil to natural gas and upgrade your old boiler or furnace to a high efficiency heating unit.

Old oil burning boiler, prime for replacement.

Old oil burning boiler, prime for replacement.

  1. The price of comfort. Over the past three years the price of heating oil has shown a drastic increase, rising in Northern New Jersey from $1.96 in December 2008 to greater than $3.77 in 2012. In less the five years the energy source has over doubled in price. As per New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA) Oil Group, costs are expected to continue to rise in 2013. They are offering members placed with their oil providers a price cap of $3.949 per gallon this coming winter.

    The fact is, the increase in energy costs is outpacing energy consumer income increases. Take for instance a recent customer of ours' home in Northern NJ who decided this year to covert from an oil burning boiler to natural gas with Groundswell Contracting. Last year they used 777 gallons of heating oil in their 1700 sf split level home. This 777 gallons cost them $2786.00 to heat their home through winter. With natural gas delivered today at $1.04 per therm, the monetary savings gained by converting to natural gas are significant.

    Let's take a quick look at the math.

    First we need to convert oil usage to gallons per therm. As per Federal Registry on 04/26/2012, 1 Gallon No. 2 Heating Oil = 138,680 btu, or 1.39 therms.

    Then we determine how many therms were used by our customer last year. 777 gallons No. 2 Heating Oil X 1.39 = 1080 therms

    Finally we convert the amount of therms used to the cost of natural gas per therm to see the savings. 1080 Therms X $1.04 = $1123.23

    At last years rates it cost our customer $2.58 per therm for oil; almost 2.5 X the cost for a therm of delivered natural gas. If our customer's old oil boiler had used natural gas, they would have saved a resounding $1662.77. With savings like this on the table even a recently replaced oil burning heating system is worth replacing.

  2. Going green. Energy consumption is key to being green. When converting from oil to natural gas you are presented with the opportunity to install high efficiency mechanical equipment and take advantage of regional energy efficiency incentives.  Let's refer back to our customer in Northern New Jersey. After performing a home energy assessment, we elected to install a Navien CH-240 ASME on demand boiler and hot water heater combination unit. The energy efficiency of this unit is rated at 91%; at least 17% more efficient than their old oil burning equipment. Our customer decided to have us supplement the oil to natural gas conversion scope with insulation and air sealing measures. Coupled together, the scope of work qualified the project for a $5k rebate and was eligible for up to a $10k 0% interest loan as part of the NJ Home Performance with Energy Star Program. With a total estimated energy savings of close to 30%, the work we completed was green, with even more green at the end of the day for our customer.

This  corroded boiler present a serious home safety issue.

This  corroded boiler present a serious home safety issue.

3. Your home safety. A little known fact about atmospherically ventilated appliances is that they are often prone to drafting issues that can affect indoor air quality. Oil burning units are exceptionally prone to issues as part of their testing is gauged not on whether they are creating smoke, but the actual amount of smoke they are creating. The smoke created by oil burning appliances can lead to safety issues often resulting in the need for new chimney liners or other remedial action.  New high efficiency natural gas appliances avoid these issues through direct ventilation. The Navien CH-240 ASME natural gas boiler and hot water heater we installed at our customer's home both intakes make up air and exhausts combustion gas outside the home. This puts the flue gas outside and reduces the risk of issues such as CO and puff backs inside.

The winter inches closer and reasons to convert from oil to natural gas abound. Will you make the switch now or will you wait until the increasing price of heating oil makes the decision for you?


by Quentin Unsworth, LEED AP

Quentin is the Founder and COO of Groundswell Contracting operating in Northern NJ.  An owner / operator, he holds the following certifications: BPI Building Analyst, Envelope Professional; IICRC Water Damage Technician, Applied Structural Drying, Odor, Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration Technician.

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