Converting from Oil to Natural Gas

My wife and I recently purchased a home in the Chester Park area. It is currently heated with oil, but the previous owner installed a wood burning stove in the living room to cut down on the oil costs. I’m not gonna lie, the fireplace was kind of a deal-maker, but the oil was almost a deal breaker.

We found out there a gas line under our street and heard the city will come and pipe the line to the exterior wall for free. This seems to be fairly common knowledge. A friend of mine also told me that the city and/or Comfort Systems has a program where you can get the gas furnace installed with a loan through the city. Has anyone heard of this program? Has anyone you know done it?

We lived with my dad for a short while, but I still remember the sting of even just splitting the oil bill and this program sounds pretty enticing.

Thanks!

16 Comments

TimK

about 11 years ago

We converted from oil to gas about 3 years ago and cut our heat bill in half. The oil boiler was rated at under 50% efficiency in its final days, so burning garbage would have been better. I purchased a spiffy Swedish Ultra High Efficiency gas boiler through Comfort Systems home energy improvement program. The new boiler runs at 98% efficiency. It wasn't cheap= close to $5000 installed. That being said, the fuel savings will pay for it within a couple more heating seasons. Call Comfort Systems for an appointment. I think we've got a 10 year loan- I can't remember the interest rate, but it's competitive. They ask that you collect more than one bid, but you are not required to go with the low bidder- they just want to make sure you do some research. They don't sell or install boilers/furnaces. You have to find a contractor to do that. They (the City) will run the line from the street to your house and there are some inspection things- might be a permit involved, too, but I don't recall it being complicated or expensive. Your contractor should be able to help with those issues, too.

NeverSummer

about 11 years ago

There is a program from the city of Duluth called the "Duluth Energy Efficiency Program" that offers rebates to homes undertaking specific energy efficiency upgrades to their homes.  Take a look at duluthenergy.org for more info.  They're working with Comfort Systems, Minnesota Power and the City to help reduce energy use, increase efficiency, and connect people to rebates, loans, grants and such.

Work like converting to a natural gas set-up is something CS will help you do, and makes you eligible for their loan program.  Add in some great rebates and it makes it an even better option.  Hope this helps...

bluenewt

about 11 years ago

We converted to natural gas, and we got rid of our oil tank without paying for it by selling the leftover oil at a deep discount to the guys who hauled the tank away for us. I think we posted the offer on Craigslist.

Bad Cat!

about 11 years ago

My partner and I are currently in the same situation (but about a step and a half ahead).

The city will bring gas from the street to your house for free (you will have to hook it up within 6 months or something or they charge you a /month fee).

The city has loan programs for converting oil to gas. The catch is that the savings on the more efficient furnace have to make up for cost of the loan within 10 years (which you will easily be able to do unless you are replacing the world's most efficient oil furnace with the world's crappiest gas furnace).

Other than that, I don't have a lot of specifics on the details (my support of the new furnace project involves moving my piles of my Halloween crap out of the basement). I'll see if I can get more details for you later.

Sonya

about 11 years ago

If you're poor enough, you might qualify for weatherization from the AEOA, which may include a new, more efficient furnace.  I had my built-in-1886-and-barely-updated-since home weatherized last fall and got a new boiler, insulation in the walls and attic, and draft sealing, all for free, and my heat bills last winter were about half of what they were the year before.

Dave P

about 11 years ago

We converted from oil to gas about four years. We bought a Buderus ultra-high efficiency boiler. At the same time we changed all the original storm windows on our 1924 house to Mon-Ray high performance storm windows with e-coating, etc. Both changes were expensive and we took out a loan to make them, despite figuring we might never recoup our costs, because it was the "right thing to do" (we were consuming an unconscionable amount of energy for just two people). Instead, we started saving money the very first month. In other words, our monthly energy bills were less, even with the loan payment included. Plus we were consuming a fraction of the energy. So my advice would be do it. Do it before another winter arrives, even if you have to take out a loan, it's hard for me to imagine that will ever regret it. 
P.S. One great advantage of the Buderus is that it makes the hot water for your house with passive heat captured from the boiler. In other words, no more water heater and virtually free hot water in the winter!

Sam

about 11 years ago

I agree with the others.  Even with the monthly loan, you still are paying less per month with the loan+gas than you paid just for the oil before.  It is cheaper both now and later.

The Big E

about 11 years ago

We took care of the getting-rid-of-leftover-oil issue by just burning all of ours beforehand.  It turned out that the gauge on the tank was a little optimistic, so that hoped-for moment of tank-emptying actually came about a week before the install date for our gas furnace (which happened to be in an unseasonably cold late November a few years ago).  I would kind of recommend against an exact repeat of that scenario [I've been told since then that diesel fuel is a reasonable stopgap substitute, but it would have been a lot more helpful to know that back then, hrmph].

Tom

about 11 years ago

Nat Gas is sooo much nicer.The city program is great, and you can finance it through them with a low interest loan.  But be careful if you refinance your fix it up loan with the morgage as we did.  The low interest loan for the furnace showed up as the first debt or something and slowed down the refinacing.  Almost missed out on the ultra low rate.

We found someone to pump out the old oil in the tank, but that can also be problematic, with liabilities etc.

todobrillante

about 11 years ago

Actually, I recently made the switch from gas to oil after learning that I own an oil company.



Thank you Energy for Tomorrow, for pointing out my vested interest!





Now, about that tax break...

Bad Cat!

about 11 years ago

Does anyone have experience in getting a huge fuel oil tank removed from a basement? I'm not looking forward to getting that huge-ass thing out using our small-ass basement stairs.

bluenewt

about 11 years ago

@BadCat, as I mentioned above, we got ours removed by offering the guys who removed it the oil that was in it. In fact, they paid us in addition to cutting the tank up and getting it out of there. I'm pretty sure we found them by posting on Craigslist, but maybe our contractor found them for us. I'll ask him.

NeverSummer

about 11 years ago

I forgot to add to my post that the DEEP program offers some pretty significant rebates (up to $2500) toward improvements like new furnaces.  They'll also help you find any and all other rebates, grants and programs that might help you out.

Bad Cat!

about 11 years ago

Crap on a stick! We were all set to get the furnace loan program, but now we're out of luck!
It's complicated financials that I don't really understand, but it has something to do with our home value not being enough and the amount we owe too much (thanks housing market!).
So now we have a near-dead furnace that needs to be replaced before fall, and all of our spare cash is going towards the roof project already underway.
Does anyone know of any other programs that could assist? I can't think we're the only people out there who don't have a lot of equity in their undervalued home, and earn too much to qualify for most of the assistance programs. Thanks!!!

Bad Cat!

about 11 years ago

Yep, that's the program we were hoping to get. They were really nice and helpful, but our numbers just didn't work out (recently purchased home, not much equity, declining home value = no go in their spreadsheet). :(

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