Is Conversion to Gas the Best Choice for You?
Making the right choice in whether or not to change your heating source is important to you and your family. Before you commit to the costly endeavor of converting from oil heat to gas, we encourage you to consider some important factors.
SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM PRICE PROJECTIONS+
- The rising costs in fuel oil have caused many people to wonder if changing their heating fuel is a smart way to save money. Keep in mind, however, that the rising and falling cost of heating fuels is normal in the communities market. There is no such thing as permanently high or permanently low prices. Consider this:
- In 2008, homeowners were told that heating oil prices could rise to record levels, only to see those prices drop by more than $2 per gallon.
- In January and February 2014, natural gas spot prices hit record highs in New York, New England and across the globe.
- Where will prices go from here? Imbalance between supply and demand causes fuel prices to either rise or decrease. The natural gas supply has risen in recent years due to “fracking” from shale, but environmental regulations and pipeline issues have made it difficult for this trend to continue. Consider the following factors:
- Power plants are converting from coal to gas, which will cause a significant rise in demand, and therefore a resulting rise in prices.
- Demand for gas is higher overseas. U.S. suppliers are rushing to export our gas to markets where they can earn four to five times more money. A decrease in domestic supply may result in higher prices.
- Faced with low prices in the U.S., gas suppliers are starting to cut back on production, which will reduce supply, and may result in price increases.
- “…With the cutbacks in production that are coming, and the continued growth in demand, mainly substitution of natural gas for coal, the outlook over several years is for a double or triple price from where it is now.” – Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross on CNBC, May 15, 2012
THE REAL COST OF CONVERSION+
- If you intend to change your heating fuel to save money, then naturally it is important to know how much you are spending first! Take a look at some of the typical costs:
- New gas furnace or boiler (equipment and installation, $4,000 - $11,000 excluding the cost of running a gas line to the house if does not already exist)
- Chimney Lining $1,500 - $3,000
- Removal of oil storage tank $500 - $2,5000 (Keep in mind that the removal of an underground oil storage tank can run into the tens of thousands of dollars should you have to pay for the environmental clean-up due to a release!)
Total Cost: $6,000 - $13,500
- Is it worth it? That will depend of a number of factors, such as:
- How long do you plan to remain in your house?
- The future price of natural gas and heating oil.
- The weather (The warmer the winter, the longer it will take you to recoup money in energy savings.
WHAT IS BEST FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?
- The most prevalent heating sources today include natural gas, heating oil or electricity. Which is the “cleaner” choice? You may have heard natural gas called “clean energy.” While it’s true that little particulate matter is released into the environment when the gas is burned, there are significant concerns regarding how it is drilled.
- Hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking” is the process of removing natural gas from the earth using pressurized, chemically treated water to break apart the rock containing the natural gas.
- Environmental concerns regarding fracking include the potential contamination of ground water, degradation of air quality, and related health issues such as cancer. There are many documented cases of suspected contamination of groundwater, and in December 2011 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft report indicating contamination of the ground water in a Wyoming aquifer. 1
- A recent Cornell University study confirmed significant amounts of methane are escaping into the atmosphere during natural gas fracking. Natural gas is mostly methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas, especially in the short term, with 105 times more warming impact, pound for pound, than carbon dioxide (CO2). The study estimates that as much as 8 percent of the methane in shale gas leaks into the air during the lifetime of a hydraulic shale gas well.2
- A study conducted by researchers from Duke University and Boston University found nearly 6,000 natural gas leaks in the District of Columbia’s pipe system, including 12 in manholes where methane had accumulated to potentially explosive levels.3
- Is heating oil clean? The residential heating oil industry has actually been pressing state and federal governments to increase environmental standards associated with heating oil. Over the past 30 years, technology has reduced home heating oil’s carbon footprint by 40%. New oil burners emit near-zero levels of pollution!
- Laws have been introduced and/or passed in many states, requiring a reduction in sulfur levels contained in heating oil and motor fuels. The introduction of ultra-low sulfur heating oil, containing only 15 parts-per-million sulfur, reduces particulate matter by over 70 percent and sulfur content by 99%.
- Biofuel (also known as BioHeat® fuel) adds a renewable component to heating oil. It is made from domestically grown organic materials, such as soybeans, biofuel reduces our carbon footprint, reduces foreign oil imports and is becoming more readily available throughout the country.
ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS TO SAVE YOU MONEY ON ENERGY+
- The Near Future: Heating oil is currently being reformulated to dramatically decrease sulfur levels, enabling U.S. companies to sell super-efficient heating systems that are currently only available outside the U.S. These systems exceed 95% AFUE and result in impressive savings for homeowners.
- The Facts: No matter what energy you use to heat your home – heating oil, propane, natural gas, electricity or wood – that energy comes from the earth and the exploration, drilling and burning of all fuels can have negative consequences. Our #1 priority should simply be to use less!
If all oil-heated homes in the U.S. alone used modern efficient equipment, we could save 5 billion gallons of oil each year!*
* U.S. Environmental Protection Agency