Worthwhile to convert to gas?

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Old 06-13-12, 11:54 AM
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Worthwhile to convert to gas?

Hello,

I'm new to the forums, and this isn't really a DIY question but I'm going to be closing on my first house in a couple weeks and I'm still confused about a lot of things. And if it works out it will open up to DIY opportunities so it works..

Basically it's a small ranch, 1300sq ft with 1 bathroom. They currently have an oil boiler and tankless hot water heater, and from what I've heard about costs of oil heat...well...the numbers terrify me . I'm curious to get a rough estimate on what it would cost to convert to gas, and what exactly I would need to do it.

I've done some homework and luckily I have gas on my street and the gas company will run the line to my house for free, I just have to buy the boiler and pay to run the gas throughout my home and install the boiler. Ballpark, what am I looking at for a contractor to do this? I"m in the boston area if that helps..

Would I be correct in saying I can switch out my oil boiler and tankless heater in exchange for 1 combo unit? Is there anything else I would have to purchase? From my research this seams the most practical solution, not only that it would free up space in my small utility room from a bulbous, ancient boiler and make the space actually usable (laundry is in there also)

I feel like with the free line to the house and the 1200 rebate for the combi boiler I might be smart to convert right when I move in?
 
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Old 06-13-12, 01:52 PM
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You don't want a tankless coil for your domestic hot water. Get a boiler with an indirect hot water heater. It connects to the boiler as if it was another heating zone. Tankless coils require the boiler to be warm all the time. That's a big energy waster. You should also do a heat loss calculation to properly size your new boiler. Switching to gas will save you money for sure. To compare the cost of gas to oil, take the per therm price of gas and multiply it by 1.38. Example: one therm of natural gas is $1.20. $1.20 * 1.38 = $1.66. That $1.66 can be compared directly to the cost of fuel oil per gallon. I don't know what that is running now, I figure at least $3.00 per gallon.
 
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Old 06-13-12, 05:07 PM
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I completely agree with Drooplug.
 
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Old 06-13-12, 06:19 PM
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As far as cost, I would expect to pay at least $5k for a new boiler install. Your best bet to keep costs down would be to go with a conventional boiler vs. a mod/con. You will probably need to get your chimney relined too. I would check with the gas company to see if they install boilers at a reduced price. They tend to do that to get customers to switch over to gas. Saving 40%-50% on heating costs will be big dollars. Keep that in mind.

Here are prices from this past winter for heating oil: Massachusetts Weekly Heating Oil and Propane Prices (October - March)

Oil does fluctuate quite a bit so you never know where it will be during heating season. The wholesale price closed yesterday at about $2.62. The recent drop in crude prices and the lack of demand in the summer have pushed it down from the this past winter.
 
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Old 06-14-12, 04:10 AM
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A this time it is much cheaper to use gas but who knows what the future will bring. If changing boilers I would not re-use the chimney due to constant drafting and combustion air being used from inside the home. I would block off the chimney with a cap and seal. Install a new boiler with two pipes to the outside one of which will be the vent and the other will be air intake.
You can convert with sidewall venting with a cast iron or mod/con boiler.
The most important part of the endeavour is to get the boiler properly sized. Find a contractor who does heat losses and does not size the new boiler off the old boiler or measures the radiation in the home. The latter two have nothing to do with the size of the new boiler.
Once you know the heat loss and the amount of radiation you can now determine which boiler is best a mod/con or cast iron dependent on water temps required to heat. Of course you will have to look at your needs and finances.
For more info on the importance of heat losses see the following link.
Heatloss FAQ
 
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Old 06-14-12, 04:56 AM
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drooplug,
Interestingly enough, the cost of oil there was pretty close to what we paid up here. Kind of suprised by that as we normally get way over charged on fuels here.

Back on topic....
Besides the cost of fuel, I believe natural gas is a lot cleaner burning, so maintenance and build up in your boiler should be reduced when compared to oil. This could reduce your yearly maintenance costs a bit.
We're also required to change our oil tank every 10yrs or so. Going with gas would remove the tank completely and remove the risk and costs of having an oil tank.

All and all I would say it's possible a good upgrade, but will have some up front costs too. Might be worth looking at your pipe work as well. If it looks like it may need some TLC, it may be worth the extra upfront cost and redo it as well.
 
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Old 06-14-12, 02:15 PM
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Todays oil burners are very clean burning and should not have a build-up of anything but a white ash from year to year.
Oil tank replacement every ten years......You live in Canada? I thought I heard that somewhere, what a joke that is. I could understand having a term where they need replaced but 10 years is crazy. I would say maybe 15 - 20 years on basement tanks.
Just another step for the government to drive out the oil business.
 
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Old 06-14-12, 05:30 PM
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I'm now age 70, and as far back as I can remember, natural gas has been cheaper, per Btu, than oil - at least in the Midwest. Plus, it is cleaner burning and no storage tank is required.
 
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Old 06-14-12, 06:50 PM
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I don't see oil going way far down in price for a long period of time. The long term price trend is up. Natural gas, who knows. The price is going down at the moment because of all the new fracking they are doing. I expect the spread between the cost of gas and oil to remain wide over the near term. So the savings in the next 5 years of converting will surely pay for quite a bit of the conversion.
 
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Old 06-15-12, 09:23 PM
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A house old enough to have oil where there's a gas line could benefit from adding insulation (if/where practical) and draft proofing.

If the house is very poorly insulated, it will cost a lot to heat even with a condensing gas boiler.

A high efficiency boiler is not a cure-all for high heating costs.
 
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Old 06-17-12, 07:35 AM
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Absolutely!

"Insulation is fuel you pay for ONCE!"
 
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Old 06-18-12, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Muggle
A house old enough to have oil where there's a gas line could benefit from adding insulation (if/where practical) and draft proofing.

If the house is very poorly insulated, it will cost a lot to heat even with a condensing gas boiler.

A high efficiency boiler is not a cure-all for high heating costs.
Being on oild doesn't mean the house is old. It could Just be that natural gas is not available in the local area.
Both my parents and I are on oil. If natural gas was available in my area, my 1937 home would be running it. My parent's home was built in 2001 and found oil was the most cost effective method to heat then.
 
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Old 06-26-12, 12:56 PM
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they just finished running my gas line for free yesterday. worst wall they ever had to dig under but not my problem thankfully. their website said i'd save over 75% but my boiler guy said 50% is more likely. i can live with that.

here in PA i think they said gas price went from 14 down to 2 in the past few years..something dramatic..they are literally planning lines from the well to peoples homes i think lol.

3 years ago i had a new oil boiler with indirect put in and thats the way to go..but with gas. it's so well insulated if you dont use it all day your boiler never fires up. i just wish the gas company had called me back and told me it was free when i left them a VM years ago. now i have to pay 2500 for a new burner and chimney liner. but still ill save a lot. it was 8800 for the system back then...i am saving over 900 a year with that system..so with gas it will be alot more..ill totally break even in no time.

get a energy audit with thermal imagining! it pays for itself ..follow the guy around and take notes, you will be amazed where you get air infiltration. then insulate and do everything NOW when you first move in. dont wait until you have money lol. i regret not doing all this years ago when i got my home. blowing in insulation is ez if you have attic access. cheap too

do the heat loss yourself if you can do it..i have a link here somwhere with the slant fin program... then hire the guy that comes in and does one similar to yours. run away from the oil company installer that measures your baseboards and tells you thats how he knows the size boiler you need (i never did write to that company now that i think of it)..they were idiots!
 
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