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Should I convert to gas heat now?

Stylez777
Stylez777 Member Posts: 28
edited March 9 in Gas Heating
Hi all,

So Currently I have a Thermo-Dynamics S-125 Oil Furnace and a 275 gallon Oil Tank, 40 gal water heater and 3 zone heating system with Hydronic baseboard heat. The Furnace is 84% AUFE and the old owner of the house had it installed probably around 2010-2015, so it not that old.

I had no plans to replace this because 8 months ago, when we moved in oil was $2.50 a gallon and the cost to convert just didn't make sense. Now...oil is near $6 a gallon where Nat Gas is near $2.25 per therm (that is supply and delivery together).

I have gas already in the house feeding my stove and few local plumbers said probably do the convert for what is a market avg price. None of them did any kind of heat loss analysis, just a walk through of the house and look at what I had now. One guy wanted to had circulators for each zone another guy said it better to just leave the 1 circulator pump i already have for all 3 zones.

So the long and short of this is, would it be worth it now, based on current prices and world energy trajectory to do this conversion and if so, what is the best practices or things I should be looking to ask or want when having companies come out to bid/estimate the job?
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Comments

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,860
    Stylez777 said:

    Hi all,

    So Currently I have a Thermo-Dynamics S-125 Oil Furnace and a 275 gallon Oil Tank, 40 gal water heater and 3 zone heating system with Hydronic baseboard heat. The Furnace is 84% AUFE and the old owner of the house had it installed probably around 2010-2015, so it not that old.

    I had no plans to replace this because 8 months ago, when we moved in oil was $2.50 a gallon and the cost of roughly * to convert just didn't make sense. Now...oil is near $6 a gallon where Nat Gas is near $2.25 per therm (that is supply and delivery together).

    I have gas already in the house feeding my stove and few local plumbers said probably * to do the convert now. None of them did any kind of heat loss analysis, just a walk through of the house and look at what I had now. One guy wanted to had circulators for each zone another guy said it better to just leave the 1 circulator pump i already have for all 3 zones.

    So the long and short of this is, would it be worth it now, based on current prices and world energy trajectory to do this conversion and if so, what is the best practices or things I should be looking to ask or want when having companies come out to bid/estimate the job?

    While I'm all for natural gas and personally don't want oil, I wouldn't do anything right now.

    Wait and see how things behave for a few months and see how things look in August.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    Stylez777
  • Stylez777
    Stylez777 Member Posts: 28
    ChrisJ said:



    While I'm all for natural gas and personally don't want oil, I wouldn't do anything right now.

    Wait and see how things behave for a few months and see how things look in August.

    I thought about doing this, fill up 1 last time and try to ride out now through August and see where oil is at that time. If it still high do the conversion. I am also trying to figure out where the cost for converting makes sense, like a paypack period etc. Was having a hard time trying to compare the cost of a therm and how much heat it offers compared to 1 gallon of heating oil, it's cost and the amount of heat it offers.

    I did this whole comparison with Solar, and it was far easier to get answers. Maybe i'm just not looking in the right places

    misterheat
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,898
    Pricing is not allowed.
    Oil and gas are both going up. With that said so is electric. I don't see a return on investment on just converting.

    Tightning the envelope WILL give you a return on investment as well as being able to lower the output of the boiler and burning less fuel.
    JohnGellatly
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,954
    If you can figure out where prices are going to be next winter, you're a better man than I am. Oil could stay up -- or if US production is permitted to increase, come right back down. Gas could go up, particularly if facilities to transport more of US gas to Europe come on line. Good luck with the guessing game. There are a lot of really smart people trying to figure this out -- but since it is at least as much a politics question as anything else...

    Right now I'd stick to what you have.

    For cost comparison, a therm of gas is 100,000 BTU. A gallon of oil is 138,000 BTU. A kilowatt of electricity is around 3,400 BTU.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Stylez777MaxMercy
  • Stylez777
    Stylez777 Member Posts: 28
    pecmsg said:

    Pricing is not allowed.
    Oil and gas are both going up. With that said so is electric. I don't see a return on investment on just converting.

    Tightning the envelope WILL give you a return on investment as well as being able to lower the output of the boiler and burning less fuel.

    I can see pricing of a job not being allowed so changed my post, but pricing on what oil or gas cost really has to be factored, why else would anyone convert from one to the other? There has to be a tipping point where one is just not worth paying for when the other is less expensive and the overall cost of labor and equipment involved has to lead to a payback point.

    Wearing a sweatshirt or lower the temp will lower any fuel cost but when cost gets out of hand just not using it shouldn't be the only option, isn't it worth looking into alternative options?
  • Stylez777
    Stylez777 Member Posts: 28
    bburd said:

    You could probably have a gas conversion burner put in that existing boiler for a lot less money than you were quoted. I expect the original quote is to change the boiler to one designed for gas fuel. A conversion burner will be at least as efficient, possibly a bit more so. Carlin EZ-gas is one model. Riello makes a similar one.

    Thanks for the tip, didn't even know that was a thing. Is there any cons of doing this over fully replacing the oil furnace with a new gas version? Obviously price, but any safety concerns or other things that I'd have to worry or be concerned about?
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,203
    i started my first business based on this question.  Lots of people were asking it in 1978. And gas was lower that month too.  
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 332
    edited March 9
    Stylez777 said:
    You could probably have a gas conversion burner put in that existing boiler for a lot less money than you were quoted. I expect the original quote is to change the boiler to one designed for gas fuel. A conversion burner will be at least as efficient, possibly a bit more so. Carlin EZ-gas is one model. Riello makes a similar one.
    Thanks for the tip, didn't even know that was a thing. Is there any cons of doing this over fully replacing the oil furnace with a new gas version? Obviously price, but any safety concerns or other things that I'd have to worry or be concerned about?
    Provided you get a competent contractor to size, install and set up the burner per code and the manufacturer’s instructions and test and adjust the combustion with instruments, a conversion burner is  as safe as your existing boiler.

    Some boiler manufacturers have approved gas conversion burners for their units, others have not; this is a question of the manufacturer honoring the warranty if there is a problem. Your boiler is old enough though that this may not be a concern.

    The major drawback is that the existing boiler is older, so it may not last as long as a new one; but the conversion cost is so much less than a new boiler that it’s probably worth doing if the existing boiler is in good condition.

    Bburd
    Stylez777haitied
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,203
    Third time I saw this question this week. Here is my short answer.  No

    a copy of my first response 
    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/comment/1692035#Comment_1692035
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
  • Gilmorrie
    Gilmorrie Member Posts: 160
    The price of natural gas is also escalating. You can do the math, and calculate the payback period for the conversion. The only additional factor you need is the cost of converting the boiler to natural gas. You called your unit a furnace, but since you have hydronic heat, it must be a hot-water boiler. You really need to hire a contractor whose references you have checked to figure things out. If your present natural gas service supplies only your kitchen stove, it may not have adequate capacity for a gas boiler.
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,290
    edited March 9
    I just spent $820 for 151 gallons at work. This will hurt a lot of home budgets. I would switch to gas just to lose the volatility of fuel costs. I mean, one politically charged statement and saudi arabia refuses to pump more oil to stabilize price. A war 5000 miles away jacks up the price of oil. Too volatile. Volatilty is not good for anyone. So, yeah. Switch to gas.

    Then again, if we must supply europe with gas then it will go up too.

    Flip a coin.

    Albany Chris
  • Stylez777
    Stylez777 Member Posts: 28

    Third time I saw this question this week. Here is my short answer.

    See this is interesting, because I know there will never be ROI on this, I'm never going to not have a bill (unlike Solar, where once I pay it off, I am generating electric and only paying my electric company the small hook-up charge monthly).

    What I'm trying to figure out is if the gap between Nat Gas and Oil right now is large enough to justify the initial investment for the equipment and labor. Seeing as my current furnace is roughly10 years old, back in August 2021 the gap was closer and made no sense. Right now, feels like the gap is much further even though both are going up, this is why I am considering it. Oil can fall back down, can go up more, who knows like someone said earlier, if I knew this with any accuracy, I wouldn't even care how much this cost cause i'd be Oprah rich.
  • Stylez777
    Stylez777 Member Posts: 28
    Gilmorrie said:

    The price of natural gas is also escalating. You can do the math, and calculate the payback period for the conversion. The only additional factor you need is the cost of converting the boiler to natural gas. You called your unit a furnace, but since you have hydronic heat, it must be a hot-water boiler. You really need to hire a contractor whose references you have checked to figure things out. If your present natural gas service supplies only your kitchen stove, it may not have adequate capacity for a gas boiler.

    I'm not expert, and I'm used to my old house where it was a furnace. What I have is a Thermo Dynamic S series 125 boiler and then I have a separate 40 gallon Hot Water tank. My gas pipe coming into the house was just done when we moved in, the plumber put in the 1inch pipe and ran it to the boiler room and left the connection there for when i wanted to convert, so the piping is setup. The meter I got from the gas company was the smallest they would put, think probably a 225, but if i'm converting they'd come out and put the right size in at no cost for me.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,954
    On solar... "I'm never going to have a bill again". Um. Well, no. Solar panels currently have a design life of 20 years or less. They are not a forever investment. Nor do you have any idea at all what the hook up charge will be, or what your reimbursement -- if any -- will be 10 years from now.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Albany Chris
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,792
    Wow. I wasn't aware that solar panels had such a limited lifespan. 
    Albany Chris
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,954
    They may last longer than that, @SuperTech , but the output declines with time, even if they are carefully maintained. Just the nature of the beast. They may get better -- but for the moment...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Albany Chris
  • Gilmorrie
    Gilmorrie Member Posts: 160


    "See this is interesting, because I know there will never be ROI on this,"
    No, as long as the price of gas, per Btu, stays lower than fuel oil, you will certainly see a return on investment. The question is how long is the payback period.
    Gary SmithHot_water_fanAlbany Chris
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,898
    If you save $300 a season it could take 15 - 20 years!
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 16,324
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Albany Chris
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 502
    hot_rod said:
    Hmm. Anthracite. :)
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 539
    Wow. I wasn't aware that solar panels had such a limited lifespan. 
     The industry standard warranty is 25 years. Output declines of course but lifespan is long. 
    Larry Weingarten
  • Stylez777
    Stylez777 Member Posts: 28
    edited March 10
    "See this is interesting, because I know there will never be ROI on this,"
    No, as long as the price of gas, per Btu, stays lower than fuel oil, you will certainly see a return on investment. The question is how long is the payback period.

    I agree, hence my original post comparing the cost of Nat Gas to Oil at this point and with it being roughly 2x as much if the cost invest was worth it at this time. Overall and I believe it been this way for many years, Nat gas has been cheaper than oil, it always the initial investment to change your equipment, if it breaks down and you have to totally makes sense, but making the choice when you have working equipment is the big question and seeing as I have to pay over a grand for my next oil shipment in the next week, is why I am here trying to get the skinny on this topic.

    the whole ROI, I don't thing I will see a return, like I make money or anything like that, it just like you said when does the system pay itself off based upon savings doing the switch.
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 406
    edited March 10
    How much oil do you burn in a heating season?
  • nde
    nde Member Posts: 48
    Yes switch for sure. I would start process now it can take months. Over 10 years I have saved about 10k and my NG prices are some of the highest in the nation. Natural gas connected home also have better resale value.
    Albany Chris
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,954
    Got to admit being somewhat bemused by the conversation, since natural gas simply isn't an option for a whole lot of people. Not in terms of population -- by far the majority of the population by numbers is within reach of a natural gas line -- but in terms of that great and despised (by some) flyover country -- which exists pretty much anywhere beyond the fringes of suburbia. Geographically perhaps 90 percent of the country.

    Have to admit that in some ways being able to be an observer (my choices are oil, electricity, coal, or wood -- or quilts) has its points...

    @Stylez777 wonders about getting the skinny as they put it on where this is all going. As I've said before -- good luck with that. Remember that you are not dealing with an engineering or scientific question, you are dealing with an entirely political question. As we have seen lately, political events half a world away can change things overnight.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,898
    nde said:

    Yes switch for sure. I would start process now it can take months. Over 10 years I have saved about 10k and my NG prices are some of the highest in the nation. Natural gas connected home also have better resale value.

    So you saved $1,000.00 a year for 10 years simply by converting to NG from oil?
  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 570
    Jamie, you mention flyover country and didn't mention PROPANE (LPG--that is the option where there isn't natural gas (NG). Sorry to throw another "fly into the ointment"...for your bemusement.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 16,324
    In the rural Midwest LP is the predominate fuel source. The big decesion to be made for those folks if if they should stay on LP or switch to NG as it gets piped to their area. I had that option at my property in Missouri. Living 1/2 mile off the highway made the piping cost to expensive to pencil out. LP was under a buck when the NG became available.

    It is easy to convert back and forth between LP and NG on the equipment, these days.

    I was in Phoenix a couple weeks ago and surprised to see so many LP dealers, yards full of underground tanks waiting to be installed.

    I thought we “fracked” our way to a NG glut in this country? Good time for big oil to uncap those wells.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,954
    psb75 said:

    Jamie, you mention flyover country and didn't mention PROPANE (LPG--that is the option where there isn't natural gas (NG). Sorry to throw another "fly into the ointment"...for your bemusement.

    Oil's cheaper per BTU, at least where I am. In the midwest with a lot of agricultural use (grain drying) LP is cheaper, and dominates, as @hot_rod said.

    And as I've said before... it varies from place to place, all over the map. Generalizations are worse than useless.

    On his comment that it's time for "big oil" to uncap those wells -- indeed it is. Couldn't agree more. However, in a political environment where such projects can be terminated with a stroke of a pen, a responsible company would be mad to undertake any investment at all.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    JUGHNEAlbany Chris
  • nde
    nde Member Posts: 48
    Yeah I average 1k annual savings not using oil on NG rates that spot month to month and are very high in winter. Some winters less some more. I would take oil over LP as LP is more than oil, at least here in Maine. I sold real estate for years and home buyers really do not like oil if they have alternative, a house with NG vs oil is almost always preferred.
    Hot_water_fanAlbany Chris
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 539
    @nde you're telling me you don't like cooking over an oil stove?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,954

    @nde you're telling me you don't like cooking over an oil stove?

    Come on. A hint of diesel just adds flavour!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,860

    @nde you're telling me you don't like cooking over an oil stove?

    Let's be fair.
    Fuels have their applications. For example Diesel is preferred for hauling a lot of weight long distances over LPG. LPG is used indoors and for cooking etc.


    You wouldn't want to use water in your engine crankcase but at the same time you don't want to brush your teeth with 0W20 right?

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    Hot_water_fan
  • nde
    nde Member Posts: 48
    Nah, I save my household oil for C-3PO soaks! I will say when they cut and removed my 45 YO old tank it was so crusty and rotten, one of the worst they had seen. So grateful that it had not leaked in the 3 years I monitored it! The NG vs oil debate is a no brainer if you have the option to switch go for it.
  • Stylez777
    Stylez777 Member Posts: 28
    edited March 11
    Robert_25 said:

    How much oil do you burn in a heating season?

    So interestingly, and I never thought to really check this but I bought the house in August, and had to buy the oil that was left behind so that was roughly 250 gallons, and since I been in the house I've had to order twice which totaled 300 gallons, (i'm due to order again soon). So let say I've used 500 gallons so far, which seem quite low come to think of it (avg of 2.3 gallon per day since I moved in)... House is 1600 sqft. (2000 sqft if you include the basement area)
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 183
    Stylez777 said:
    How much oil do you burn in a heating season?
    So interestingly, and I never thought to really check this but I bought the house in August, and had to buy the oil that was left behind so that was roughly 250 gallons, and since I been in the house I've had to order twice which totaled 300 gallons, (i'm due to order again soon). So let say I've used 500 gallons so far, which seem quite low come to think of it (avg of 2.3 gallon per day since I moved in)... House is 1600 sqft. (2000 sqft if you include the basement area)
    Where are you located ? I'm in the North East area of Pa and I just looked at my gas bill use chart and it it didn't start moving from summer usage until a bit in October and Peaked in January.. counting February that's so far around 120-130 day season.. for me..
    Switching to you.. 250+300= 550-50 in the tank?
    500÷130=3.84 gallons per day 

    Just another way for looking at it.. I'm sure there's many others..


    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • Stylez777
    Stylez777 Member Posts: 28
    reggi said:


    Where are you located ? I'm in the North East area of Pa and I just looked at my gas bill use chart and it it didn't start moving from summer usage until a bit in October and Peaked in January.. counting February that's so far around 120-130 day season.. for me..
    Switching to you.. 250+300= 550-50 in the tank?
    500÷130=3.84 gallons per day 

    Just another way for looking at it.. I'm sure there's many others..


    I'm in the North East as well, I am on Long Island, NY. I'm sure in the long run over time gas is def going to be the better price, I'm going to shop around some places, get some quotes and if things align, I'll take the plunge. Even though both sources will go up, i'd still rather be paying less, especially now where the volatility is so great.

  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 183
    Stylez777 said:
    Where are you located ? I'm in the North East area of Pa and I just looked at my gas bill use chart and it it didn't start moving from summer usage until a bit in October and Peaked in January.. counting February that's so far around 120-130 day season.. for me..
    Switching to you.. 250+300= 550-50 in the tank?
    500÷130=3.84 gallons per day 

    Just another way for looking at it.. I'm sure there's many others..


    I'm in the North East as well, I am on Long Island, NY. I'm sure in the long run over time gas is def going to be the better price, I'm going to shop around some places, get some quotes and if things align, I'll take the plunge. Even though both sources will go up, i'd still rather be paying less, especially now where the volatility is so great.
    I was only looking at the most probable start of use of your heat using my information as a rough guide... August September and Most of October I showed a minimal increase over the summer so I wouldn't really consider the difference in calculating the Heating days as you are counting from August when most likely you didn't have your heat turned on. 🕵️‍♀️.
    That's all.. You'll decide what's best for you..G/L
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,739
    One thing the OP said way up there caught my eye “fill up now and try to make it through august” I paraphrase 

    So that tells me you are getting domestic hot water from your oil boiler. If it wasn’t a no brainer before it sure is considering that IMO

    You are going to pay $5 per gallon all summer to heat up your basement with the side effect of heating up a few gallons of water???

    get a NG boiler and a heat pump water heater and get that hazardous material tank out of your life
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    Albany Chris