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Though oil furnaces are becoming increasingly rare, some older homes on the East Coast do still rely on oil to provide their heating needs in the fall and winter. However, experienced companies like Maichle’s Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing often recommend switching to gas heat as a sensible solution for our harsh New England winters. Not only will doing so save you money and energy usage over time, but you will also make your home more attractive if you decide to sell it, and you’ll never have to worry about running out of fuel on the coldest day of the year.
If you’re thinking about making the change, what are the top pros and cons you need to consider? We’ll break it all down for you in this post.
If you’re thinking about upgrading your old oil-fueled heating system for cheaper, more reliable natural gas, your first thought is probably, “How much does it cost to switch from oil to gas?” The answer is that making the trade will probably require you to spend a few thousand dollars on the equipment itself, as well as the installation, depending on your specific situation.
However, you can look forward to saving more money in the long run by making the trade – especially if you run your heater a lot during the winter. Additionally, you might be eligible for some rebates or government incentives that can help you realize even more significant savings on your initial investment.
Before you make the leap, ensure you have a plan in place for how you will dispose of your old fuel tank. Some contractors will include removal and disposal of the tank as part of the installation agreement, but make sure to get clarification on that up front. You don’t want to be stuck with a tank that you have no idea how to get rid of.
These days, we are all trying to do our part to save the planet. Whether you’ve committed to recycling or composting your household waste, eating less meat or using public transit, there are a variety of things you can do to conserve resources. Switching to natural gas heat is one of the ways to make your carbon footprint smaller and protecting our planet’s limited resources.
Natural gas is still a fossil fuel, which means it isn’t as green as sustainable solutions like solar or wind energy. However, it burns cleaner and more completely than oil, and doesn’t produce any soot or unpleasant odors in the process of doing so. And, no fuel tank equals no chance of contaminating the earth or groundwater with an accidental fuel spill. Gas heat also tends to heat up a home faster than oil heat, because the gas furnace produces maximum heat as soon as the burners start running.
Gas Line Availability
Is there already a gas line in your neighborhood? If your neighbors have gas appliances, the answer is yes. You might need to call the gas company to ask if they can run a pipeline to your home, but otherwise, you are all set. If not, consider how influential a group can be. If enough of your neighbors are calling the gas company to ask about extending service to your part of town, you might eventually create a tipping point.
Ease of Maintenance
Oil furnaces tend to require more costly maintenance because of soot and dirt buildup. In contrast, gas furnaces stay cleaner during the heating season, and there is no cost associated with oil deliveries, oil changes and oil filter changes. A properly maintained gas furnace can last up to 20 years in some cases.
The most significant risks of oil furnaces are accidental fuel leaks or spills, which represent an environmental hazard. Even though oil is flammable, however, it won’t explode in case of an accident. A malfunctioning oil furnace will release more smoke, soot and unpleasant odors into the air.
Notably, poorly maintained gas furnaces can allow carbon monoxide gas into your home, which is often known as the “silent killer” because it is colorless and odorless. If you decide to switch to gas heat, get familiar with the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, have your furnace maintained regularly and invest in a carbon monoxide detector for your home.
Other than savings on your monthly energy bills, the most remarkable difference of switching from oil to gas is convenience. With gas heat, you never have to worry about running out of fuel or waiting for an oil delivery to arrive. Instead, you have reliable heat supplied directly to your home whenever you need it – no service contracts required. There’s no risk of an oil leak, and no need to have an oil tank taking up space in your backyard or basement.
Because the world of buying and selling real estate can be so competitive, anything that gives you an advantage over other sellers is worth considering. For most people looking to buy a home, modern amenities are a major selling point.
Many potential buyers might balk at the environmental liabilities and extra maintenance responsibilities associated with oil furnaces. However, if you can show them you’ve gone the extra mile to upgrade your house to clean-burning, affordable gas heating, you might be able to ask a higher selling price for your home when the time comes to put it on the market.
Converting From Oil to Gas: Your Bottom Line
So, is it worth spending potentially a few thousand dollars upfront to switch your home to gas heat? Depending on various factors, your savings in fuel costs alone could help you recoup your investment in only a few years. The decision usually comes down to how complex the conversion will be for your house, as well as how enticing the incentives are. You can also become a more environmentally responsible homeowner while boosting the resale appeal of your home.
If you need to replace an old oil-burning furnace anyway, and you plan to remain in your home for another several years, it’s probably smart to make the switch. You can recoup the initial costs of buying and installing a new furnace (and water heater, if necessary) over time. Plus, once you have a gas line running to your home, you can get gourmet by switching to one of those fancy gas stoves from your favorite Food Network shows.
If you have any questions about ways to save money on your utility bills and make your home more energy-efficient this winter, contact us at Maichle’s Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing. Our highly trained and experienced team is here to help, whether you need routine maintenance or a new system installation. We have been serving homeowners in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland for 35 years, and our commitment to friendly, affordable service means we will be here for you at every step of the way.
If you’re thinking of switching from oil to gas heat, we can help you explore all your options before you buy, so you can become a better-informed consumer. Call us to request a quote or schedule a service appointment with one of our trustworthy technicians.