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Old 05-11-2013, 08:45 AM   #1
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Oil to gas conversion


Right now I have a Weil McLain WGO-3 oil boiler that tests at 85% efficiency, which was installed in 2007. I added an Intellicon, used an electric hot water heater instead of the coil, and boosted the insulation in my attic and used 30% less oil this year. However, I still used 304 gallons, which was $1600. I have gas available at the street, and the gas company will install from the main to the house for free. Gas is half the cost of oil per BTU.

I see 2 options available- either convert the burner to gas or replace the whole boiler. It seems that a conversion drops the efficiency to ~75% and costs around $2k to install everything. A full replacement would get me 95% efficiency and cost about $6k.

85% oil: $1602/yr
85% gas: $715/yr
75% gas: $786/yr
95% gas: $643/yr

So a conversion burner would save me $816/yr and have a 2.5 year payback. A replacement would save me $959/yr and have a 6.25 year payback.

Should I do the conversion now and replace the boiler down the road? Or do it all at once?

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Old 05-11-2013, 01:10 PM   #2
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Oil to gas conversion


Do the conversion.

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Old 05-11-2013, 03:24 PM   #3
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Oil to gas conversion


agree with bt due the conversion ...pay back faster..and still saving about 50%yearly cost to heat..ben sr
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Old 05-11-2013, 05:34 PM   #4
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Oil to gas conversion


Quote:
Originally Posted by matt151617 View Post
Right now I have a Weil McLain WGO-3 oil boiler that tests at 85% efficiency, which was installed in 2007. I added an Intellicon, used an electric hot water heater instead of the coil, and boosted the insulation in my attic and used 30% less oil this year. However, I still used 304 gallons, which was $1600. I have gas available at the street, and the gas company will install from the main to the house for free. Gas is half the cost of oil per BTU.

I see 2 options available- either convert the burner to gas or replace the whole boiler. It seems that a conversion drops the efficiency to ~75% and costs around $2k to install everything. A full replacement would get me 95% efficiency and cost about $6k.

85% oil: $1602/yr
85% gas: $715/yr
75% gas: $786/yr
95% gas: $643/yr

So a conversion burner would save me $816/yr and have a 2.5 year payback. A replacement would save me $959/yr and have a 6.25 year payback.

Should I do the conversion now and replace the boiler down the road? Or do it all at once?
I could argue this both ways.

First of all, of course you have a 2.5 year payback because the overall amount you are spending is significantly less than replacing the whole boiler. I had the same problem when I moved into my current home. I had an oil boiler that I could have converted to gas, however my efficiency would have gone right out the chimney, literally. So keeping in mind that while you are not laying out the initial cash, what you will save overall is still not what you would save by getting a high efficiency gas heater that is designed not only to run better but depending on how you feel about the whole "going green" movement, is less harmful as far as flue gas emissions.

The argument against is that the boiler is only six years old and you have no reason to replace a perfectly good unit. It runs fine and converting it will pay itself back in the short term. On the flip side your efficiency will still be lower than a heater designed to burn gas and so your fuel costs while still a savings over oil, is not as much as a full conversion.

Another thing to keep in mind is the chimney. Not knowing what is already there in your home I would hope that some sort of chimney liner was put in with the new boiler. That MAY have to be changed in size if you convert, it might not have to be changed, that should be something however to look at and think about.

The one thing that I would advise you to do is also plan for the future when putting in the gas piping. Make sure that you have a large enough supply line so you can add more gas appliances. Whenever I was talking about installing gas lines with a customer, I told them that the initial cost of putting in a line big enough to deliver gas to potential future appliances is nominal compared to putting just enough line for your needs and then realizing that you want to add more appliances. So think ahead.

There are things to think about on both sides of things. There is no real firm answer one way or the other because there are different elements of pros and cons to consider.

My best advice is that you should think long and hard about what you think is the right thing for your budget and the overall length of stay you have planned for your home.

So let's talk some numbers:

85% oil to 75% gas = $816/year savings.

85% oil to 95% gas = $959/year savings.

Lets say you stay in the home 20 years -

$16,320 savings over 20 years with a conversion assuming your 6 year old boiler holds out that long. If it doesn't then you will replace the heater within that amount of time and it would take much longer to recoup the cost of both.

$19,180 savings over 20 years with replacement and it is not unreasonable to think that a new boiler would last 20 years. Plus, there may be tax incentives to add a high efficiency boiler, so there is that to look into.


Which ever way you go, you will still be saving a boatload of money. When I converted my home to gas from oil, my savings annually came out to around $1400/year and that is merely for heating. I am replacing my electric water heater and electric stove so I will use less electric.

Good luck to you. I hope I was helpful.
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Old 05-12-2013, 09:27 AM   #5
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Oil to gas conversion


Thanks for the advice. I do have $2k to do the conversion. I'd have to take out a loan for a replacement. Tax incentives/rebates are fairly minimal here. I'd like to covert my cooktop, water heater, and fireplace to gas eventually but there's no rush, all of them are pretty new.

Time to start getting quotes...
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Old 05-30-2013, 04:24 PM   #6
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Oil to gas conversion


Quote:
Originally Posted by FClef View Post
Another thing to keep in mind is the chimney. Not knowing what is already there in your home I would hope that some sort of chimney liner was put in with the new boiler. That MAY have to be changed in size if you convert, it might not have to be changed, that should be something however to look at and think about.
I had to have a stainless steel liner put in my chimney with an oil fired boiler. I was told that it must be replaced if I convert to gas because the residue left by the oil furnace will react with the water vapor from a gas furnace and has the liner to corrode quickly.

Bugs me a bit because it was nearly $2K for the liner, I'd love to have converted to gas but I don't have it on the street and around here propane is as expensive per BTU as oil.

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