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Converting from Oil to Gas ..Cheaper to heat ?

Athana Member Posts: 97
We have an old 1874/1920 Colonial in Central New Jersey.

Aprox. 5500 Sq.Ft. wi/ 11 ft Cielings on first and 8 ft on 2/3rd. flrs.

Single pipe steam, 22 Radiators, Oil Fired Weil Mclain model #478 (400,00 btu output)

The oil man is killing us dispite 59-61 degree setting on thermostat(100 Gallons a week) & I have to over pay for insurance due to inground tank.

I was told,without he looking at the whole house,that this unit is 25% oversized which is costing us more to run(?),Gas is cheaper to use & new unit a bit more efficient.

In these circumstances will it really be cheaper to heat this house?

Thanks for your help.


  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,227
    edited June 2010
    On a cost-per-BTU basis

    oil and gas aren't usually that far apart.

    The 78 series is older but not that old. I bet some work on your system will cut your fuel consumption regardless of which fuel you use.

    Can you give us the make and model of the burner that is on your boiler? Better yet, take a pic and post it here so we can have a look.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Just tune up your system

    Hi - I  have a 3 story house in Maine that sounds very similar to yours in age (and ceiling height!) and which has a one pipe steam system heated by oil. I struggled with my steam system for several years. The local heating "experts" couldn't seem to get it running properly and suggested I needed to upgrade my system. Luckily I found this website and with the help of Dan Holohan's steam books and the generous advice from steam pros on this board like "Steamhead", I was  to get my system tuned up so now it runs very comfortably and efficiently.

     I would first suggest you get one of Dan's books, "We Got Steam Heat!" http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Books/5/61/We-Got-Steam-Heat-A-Homeowners-Guide-to-Peaceful-Coexistence

    It's easy reading, humorous and full of pictures and explanations and in a few evenings of reading you'll know a lot more about your steam system. It's written so the homeowner new to steam heating can understand it.

    Most old steam systems have been neglected as a lot of heating "professionals" don't really understand steam heating . They maintain the burner side but ignore the steam side of the system so with a little knowledgeable "tweeking" your steam system can be running up to par.

    One thing you might want to consider is shutting down part of your house for the winter using TRVs (These are mentioned in the book).  I did this and it really helped out my heating bill.  I keep the un used rooms in the low 40s and stay nice and warm in the rest of the house. TRVs are adjustable so you can turn up the settings (heat) easily if you want to use the unoccupied rooms.

    As Steamhead mentioned, post a picture of your boiler as a lot can be determined from how your near boiler steam pipes are configured. BTW I don't know if he goes north as far as you but if you're looking for a good steam pro to look at your system, Steamhead is one of the best!  I just wish he was situated closer to Maine!

    - Rod
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