Oil to gas conversion debate rages in winter

Oil to gas conversion debate rages in winterWhen the temperature drops, Boston homeowners who rely on heating oil always ask, “Should I do an oil to gas conversion?” Heating oil is a commodity, so prices can fluctuate significantly during the heating season. To some extent, Boston homeowners can offset price increases by stocking up on heating oil before the heating season gets into full swing.

In some cases, however, homeowners can’t take full advantage of lower heating oil prices when they occur. When prices are relatively low, homeowners may not have sufficient space to store heating oil. They also may not have the extra cash on hand to top off their heating oil supplies.

Right now, heating oil prices are comparatively low, at about $2.70 per gallon. That doesn’t mean that heating oil customers are getting a break, however. In 2016-17, the average cost per gallon of heating oil was about $2.50. According to the experts at the Energy Markets Division (MassDOER), the average Massachusetts natural gas residential customer spent about $730 to heat a home last year. In comparison, the average Massachusetts heating oil customer spent nearly $2,200. With oil prices already above last year’s averages, homeowners that use heating oil can expect to spend more this year to heat their homes.

Can an oil to gas conversion save money?

Is an oil to gas conversion worth the expense? When you can reduce your operating costs by two-thirds, it’s definitely worth considering. Over a five-year period, homeowners could reduce their heating expenditures by more than $7,000. With such a significant reduction in operating costs, an oil to gas conversion quickly pays for itself!

Overall, the price of natural gas has been remarkably stable over the past seven years. The price of other fuel types, including heating oil, propane and electricity, have experienced wide fluctuations. Experts predict continued stability in the cost of natural gas heat. That means homeowners can expect to see stable winter heating costs for the foreseeable future.

In addition to significant cost savings, there are other benefits. First, the cost of heating is spread out over the course of the season. Natural gas is a metered service, so your bill is based on what you use during a particular billing period. Unlike heating oil, you don’t need to come up with a big payment up front. Utilities also offer “budget” plans that amortize the cost of gas consumption over the course of an entire year. A budget plan allows you to equalize your utility payments each month. By itself, that can be a big stabilizer for your annual energy costs.

Even if you don’t want to budget through your utility company, you can still set aside your “average” utility cost each month in a separate savings account. In the summer, you’ll be setting aside more money when your utility bills are low. In the winter, you’ll be drawing on the extra cash you’ve socked away. You’ll get the benefit of stability in your heating and cooling budget, and remain in control of your cash.

An oil to gas conversion offers other benefits

Another benefit to consider is environmental. When you convert to natural gas, you no longer store fuel on your property or in your home. You eliminate the danger of a spill or leak. Oil spills and cleanups are carefully regulated by the State. Cleaning up a leak – even a relatively small one – can be remarkably expensive. Further, heating oil is toxic. Contact with skin and inhalation of vapors can cause serious health issues.

Even if your oil tank is in good condition, other events in and around your home can cause problems for your tank. Broken pipes or excessive rain can cause flooding that compromises the integrity or stability of the tank. Careless refilling and other accidents can cause significant spills. When you do an oil to gas conversion, you eliminate these hazards and make your home healthier and safer.

If your goal is to reduce your home’s carbon footprint, an oil to gas conversion will help you! Heating oil combustion releases about 38% more carbon dioxide into the air than natural gas combustion does. In fact, natural gas combustion releases less carbon into the atmosphere than coal of any type, diesel fuel, heating oil, gasoline or propane.

Most consumers in the Boston area qualify for 0% interest loans to finance energy efficiency upgrades. In addition, some homeowners can qualify for 0% loans of up to $50,000 for large improvement projects that improve weatherization or heating system upgrades.

For more information about an oil to gas conversion, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing at (617) 288-2911.

Photo Credit: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, via Flickr