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Badfish740 04-29-2007 08:01 AM

Convert from electric heat to oil/propane?
My fiancee and I recently found a house that we really like in the perfect area, great price, wonderful schools, etc... A perfect starter home. ONE big problem-electric baseboard heat throughout! The house is small (1000 SF) with updated windows and doors, but my college apartment (barely 750 SF) was brand new construction with electric baseboard and an electric hot water heater. It cost me A FORTUNE!!! The home is in a rural area so natural gas is out. I grew up on the outskirts of a large township and my parents had moved to the area because they had finally brought gas/water/sewer out to that area, so I'm not familiar with oil or propane. I know I'd like to convert to one (or both?) of them, but I'm not sure what it will cost.

Obviously I'm looking at purchasing a furnace so that's big expense number one. Then the method of fuel storage. I know you own an oil tank, but what about a propane tank? Are you just renting it or do you have to buy it? Then of course there is running the ductwork. The house is 5 rooms and has a basement, so it wouldn't be a huge job, but labor intensive just the same. Depending on how much the job would cost the house also has a pellet stove in the living room, so I'm sure we could get by one winter. That's of course provided that pellet fuel doesn't end up being more expensive than electricity!

Finally, what makes more sense, just going propane and running everything (heat, hot water, stove) off of that or getting oil for heat and a smaller propane tank for hot water and a stove? I ask about the stove because my fiancee and I are both good cooks and can't bear the thought of not cooking with a flame! :laughing: Also-would this be a good time to go with a tankless hot water heater since we'll be doing all this work? Can anyone give me a ballpark cost?


Clutchcargo 04-30-2007 11:05 AM

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I had 1 zone NG furnace and AC priced for my 1428^2 two foot story house with NG tankless hot water heater for $12000. 2 zones with two furnaces and two ac units were $16000. The Gas tank and pipefitting are going to cost a lot though. Call your local propane company, they may have a program to convert you to propane for a little savings.

handy man88 04-30-2007 12:29 PM

Question again. How long do you plan on staying in a 1000 ft2 house and how much time would it take to recoup the investment made in a new HVAC system?

harleyrider 04-30-2007 03:09 PM

cant give you a quote.........go with propane and go with the tankless water.

Soldier17 05-14-2007 06:23 PM

I'm in relatively the same situation as badfish, except I already own the house. I need a quote for conversion from electric to oil as well although I'm being told that with gas/oil prices the way they are, it's all relative. The reasoning is that your electric isn't just for your's for everything washer, dryer, dishwasher, lights, stove A/C etc. So it really all washes out. Summer time about 150-200 bucks a month Winter upwards to 450 bucks. For whatever it's worth this is just my input!

NateHanson 05-15-2007 09:46 AM

I'm not quite sure what you're saying soldier, but in MA there's no way that heating with electric vs heating with oil "all washes out". I think anyone heating with electric in this climate will lose their shirt. Yes oil/gas/propane prices are volatile, but so is electric. It's made with the same fuels in many cases, so it's not immune to price-hikes. We currently pay $2.80 for propane, and $0.18/kwh for electric. Both have gone up by half in the last 3 years. :(

Badfish, We moved into a house with propane FHA furnace and range. We immediately put in a feed for our gas dryer, and will soon replace our electric water heater with propane (either tanked or tankless, not sure). I definitely hear you on the cooking issue. We could never cook on electric. It drives me crazy when we visit my folks.

Since you want propane for that, and since you'll save money using propane for hot water, I'd just use propane for the whole system. There's less maintenance with propane, you'll have one less tank, and the prices between oil and propane are about the same. Plus the vent from your propane furnace won't leave a black smudge on the side of your house where it exits the foundation, and if it exits near a deck (as it does on my friends house) you won't smell oil fumes when the furnace is running.

As for tank ownership - up here the propane company owns the tank, and they lend it to you for free. You're tied to one fuel company at a time. You can switch company's but they have to swap tanks (at their cost). Propane tanks have to be outside (I believe) so one additional cost for propane would be burying the line from the tank to the house. That shouldn't be so bad though.

Hope all this rambling helps. Good luck. :)


Clutchcargo 05-15-2007 10:49 AM

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Let's do the math with Nate's numbers.

$2.80/therm for propane.
$0.18/kwh for electric.

1 Therm of Propane is 100000 BTUs.
If I remember correctly 1W produces 3.4 BTUs, so $0.18 for 3400 BTUs.
So to normalize electricity to 100000 BTUs would be $5.29/therm

So apples to apples for input, electricity is 89% more expensive than Propane.

To calculate for output we need to include the efficiency of the equipment.
Electricity is hugely efficient, returning nearly $1.00 of heat for $1.00 of cash.

Propane equipment efficiency can run anywhere from 78% up to 97% depending on age, maintenance, and type of heating equipment. Just for arguments sake, let's use 85% efficient equipment. 100000 BTUs of propane output costs $3.29 vs. $5.29 for electricity.
Electricity is still 61% more expensive than propane.

NateHanson 05-15-2007 11:17 AM

Thanks Clutch. :) I guess I won't switch to electric heat.

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