Propane to natural gas

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Old 02-12-13, 03:25 PM
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Propane to natural gas

I hope this is the right category for this question.

I live just north of Boston. My heat (2400 sqft) runs on propane. My main floor (2 zones) and MBR stay at 60 when I'm gone, all other zones are off. When I get home I turn the living room (one of the main floor zones) to 66 (this room has a door). The MBR goes to 68 for the 8 hours I spend sleeping in there. My last fill was $960 for 9 weeks of use. My boiler is a Munchkin 80, heat is hot-water baseboard.

My parents (1800 sqft) have oil heat and pay about the same, but their house never goes below 67.

I have a few questions:
1. Propane is quite rare around here, most people have oil or natural gas. To anyone who has propane and lives in a region with a cold winter, do these numbers sound reasonable?

2. I have heard that propane becomes less efficient in the cold months due the gas being contracted, any truth to this?

3. People seem to swear by natural gas in that it saves money. I can get natural gas piped in for $1800. Is it as cost-efficient (over propane or oil) as they say (keeping all appliance usage the same)?

Thanks.
 
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Old 02-12-13, 08:39 PM
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I'm in Western MA, same boiler. 1/2 the size house. I use less than 15 gallons a week, for cooking and hot water, and it's a lot colder here than near Boston.

It's hard to compare houses. What's the insulation like at your parents house? Your house? Different style homes heat differently.

How many gallons are you using? Prices vary too much.

2. Yes and no. Like any gas, it contracts when cold. Your boiler uses propane gas, not liquid. It boils at about -40 and creates the gas that you burn. At lower temps it may not boil off enough gas to supply your demand.

Propane contains more btu's than natural gas per cubic foot. From Propane101.com, it's 2516 btu's for propane versus 1030 btu's for natural gas.

3. If I could get natural gas, I'd be on it in a heartbeat. Yes, it's cheap.

Are you using outdoor reset (Vision 1)? If not, use it.
 
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Old 02-12-13, 08:47 PM
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I agree. You could do the math, but I would be willing to bet your payback for the NG install would be less than 5 years. Especially with the way oil prices are going.
 
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Old 02-12-13, 09:19 PM
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If I could get NG to the house for 1800 I'd sell my wife's car to raise the money...in a heartbeat. Might even have a bit left over for some beer.

BUT:

INSULATE INSULATE INSULATE!

Insulation is fuel that you pay for ONCE!

You can not beat the payback in a proper and adequate insulation job.
 
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Old 02-12-13, 10:36 PM
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House was built in 1985 with 2x6 construction, and built well. The first owner was a very meticulous guy. I've done some math, let me know where I'm wrong.

A gal of propane expands to about 36 cu ft. For the 9 weeks I paid $965 for 300 gal of propane (10700 cu ft, 26921200 btus). National grid says avg cost of natural gas is 80 cents per therm (100 cu ft). 26921200 btu worth of natural gas would be 26130 cu ft, or 261 therms, or $209. So if I had natural gas I would have saved $700 over that period? Seems too nice... where am I going wrong?
 
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Old 02-13-13, 06:30 AM
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There was a recent thread by LuckyDriver who converted his oil boiler to gas... and there are some 'numbers' in his posts that might be a good 'sanity check' on yours.

I would say that it sounds reasonably likely that your numbers are close.
 
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Old 02-13-13, 03:16 PM
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I would say that it sounds reasonably likely that your numbers are close
I would agree. My parents have natural gas, just west of Boston. Their gas bill, for a 1800 sq foot split, is less than $200 a month. Heat, hot water, stove, and the dryer.

Looks like we'll have to move.
 
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