Thinking about switching from Oil to Propane

Old 03-08-12, 12:10 PM
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Thinking about switching from Oil to Propane

We have a 2 story/2 zone 1750 sq/f house; an oil furnace with a boiler mate tank (I think it's 40 gallons). We also have a Propane range, small fireplace and dryer.

I'm considering switching to Propane due to the price of oil at the moment. On 1/11/12 we added 125 gallons and then on 3/1/12 we added 176.1 gallons of oil. To me, that seems a lot, and at $3.81 a gallon it adds up very quickly.

Is it worth the price of the new equipment and installation to switch over to gas? I am looking at the Buderus wall hung model that seems to be pretty efficient. I live in central Maine if that matters. Thanks in advance.
Old 03-08-12, 12:27 PM
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You will have to crunch the numbers to see if propane is more economical. Propane is a petroleum product and it's price is not regulated like natural gas or electricity so it's price shoots up and down just like oil and gasoline.

I have a 1'000 gallon tank which allows me a 2+ year window to pick the best time to buy propane. Usually the price is higher in winter and lowest in summer. It's my little version of gambling or cat & mouse wondering when is the best time to have the tank filled. With a large tank it can be quite stressful since propane can easily jump or drop .25 a gallon.
Old 03-08-12, 12:51 PM
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If you wanted to switch from oil to natural gas, the numbers probably work. Propane's not that cheap IMO to make this a no-brainer, you'll have to look at your fixed costs and what marginal savings you can expect to decide.
Old 03-08-12, 01:03 PM
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Hi Mainer,
Hermon oil just topped mine off at over $4 a gallon so I know your pain. But as Pilot said, propane seems to cycle high and low just like oil so I'm not sure it is the refuge you are looking for. Here is your DIY sequence for making some major improvement in your heating costs.
1. Run some calculations to determine where your heat is escaping. There are heat loss calculators that will break it down by area so you will know what is going out your ceiling, your windows, or up that chimney with inefficiency. And there are people here who can help at any point.
2. Hold off on replacing the heat plant until you have your home significantly improved. It is a long discussion on sizing, but generally right sizing your system is better and making improvements after you purchase a new system can mean it is no longer the right size.
3. An energy audit can be nice, but one is only required when you are looking to qualify for loan of free money. Not a lot of that around lately. However, if you make significant improvements, like a really tight home, testing is necessary to be sure ventilation requirements are met.
4. Most energy audits are pretty much a cook book process. I suggest people plan for the future for their heating costs and for their heat loss improvements. If your home is going to need new siding, then learn what else can be done at the same time to save more money on more extensive improvements.
5. If you have a basement, solve the water problems this summer. Again a long discussion, but moisture control starts outside and when it is warm that's the time.

There's more, but in essence I'm point you in the direction of deeper energy improvements at a lower cost. When done, you can see real saving and be able to demonstrate your improvements for a higher resale.

Old 03-22-12, 01:19 PM
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My whole house is propane fired - heat, hot water, range, dryer, pool heater, etc. In CT I consistently paid 2.299 per gallon, which I think is very fair. The pricing has been fairly stable. Depending on where you are your cost may be even cheaper. Remember propane doesn't suffer the same storage issues as oil. It lasts forever and if it leaks there is no environmental damage.
Old 03-24-12, 06:18 PM
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The price of propane varies WIDELY from area to area. The 2.299/gal. is extremely cheap. Around here, that's just about or below wholesale with retail being +/- $3.75/gal.
On the subject of environmental damage: Granted, there is not the ground cleanup to be done BUT there is the danger of explosion which is not a factor with fuel oil.

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