Before heating season began last winter, we decided to convert our oil-fired steam boiler to natural gas. I posted a couple of times about how our heating bills were slashed as a result. We did have some work done on some energy losing areas of the house, but we do not look at them being a big contributor.
Here’s the final actual savings percentage: 70%
Comparing a year’s worth of oil bills (from the 2009-2010 season when oil was cheaper than last winter) to our gas bills since October, we spent about $2,150 in oil in 2009-10 and $651 for natural gas in 2010-11.
So our payback for the switch will be in less than five years (provided oil and gas stay at similar price ratios), and we can safely assume that the boiler and water heater will last longer than that.
Yes, we could have replaced our old oil boiler with a more efficient one (the old unit was from 1996…not an eternity ago and when efficiency ratings were already starting to matter). But even with a new, better unit I wouldn’t think we’d have anywhere close to this in savings.
Note: The piece of junk boiler that didn’t even last 15 years was a Burnham. It had cracked a block in 1999, according to the service tags, and was starting to get a hole in the top of the block again, so that is what forced the replacement decision. And this was with regular preventative maintenance. Our hot water system was also awful, as it was heated by the boiler and had a circulation pump for a convection system to heat the water. It would take about two hours to recover from those times where we used all the hot water. In the winter time the water would be scalding hot pretty much regardless of the temperature setting on the water heater.
We replaced it with a Weil-Mclain boiler and a separate AO Smith water heater. We’ve been happy with both.
We’re saving a bundle, we got rid of the potential Superfund site in the basement by getting rid of the oil tank, and our resale will not improve so much but being on gas may help keep our house in consideration as oil is now far less desirable by home buyers.
So how could Petro or Reel Strong spin this?
If you are on oil, I would recommend that you convert this summer if you have the ability to do so.