converting oil furnace to gas

drlndnDecember 26, 2011

I have a 4-yr-old Burnham oil furnace. I live in Maine and the price of heating oil is averaging $3.50/gal. My home is a 1900 Victorian, and I'm heating about 1600 sq. ft. it's costing me about $700/mo and I keep my heat at 64 degrees during the day and about 60 at night. I've insulated and have both interior and exterior storm windows. I'm interested in converting to natural gas as my neighbors have told me it is much less expensive to heat with. Can my furnace be converted by changing out the burner?

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An oil fired boiler can be converted to gas. I doubt that a forced hot-air furnace can be successfully converted. The heat exchangers are very different for oil and gas. Gas firing with heat exchangers intended for oil will, in every case that I can envision, result in miserably poor efficiency. If switching to gas, change out the furnace.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2011 at 7:01PM
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That is a very large amount of money to be spent on energy that could be spent on new equipment. How much is your total cost per KW of electricity?

I know you get cold weather in Maine but if you get an air source heatpump it can probably handle alot of the milder cold weather for a fraction of the cost of your oil. If you can get natural gas that would be a priority since there is probably lots of cold weather in Maine that a heatpump would not be able to handle well.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 7:50AM
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My furnace is a steam, cast iron boiler with radiators (not forced hot-air). Our cost per KW is in excess of 8 cents, one of the highest in the country (if not the highest). Our winters are too cold to make a heatpump efficient. My system cost me $10,000 four years ago when I needed a new furnace. At that time, my contractor told me it didn't make much difference whether i was burning gas or oil--it would be about the same. Well, it certainly makes a huge difference now, as oil is out of sight and gas has become the cost-effective way to go. We're paying between $3.30 and $3.50/gal for oil. i just want to convert my burner from oil to gas and wondering if others have done that. Awaiting contractors' estimates as I write this.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 2:34PM
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Just an aside, 8 Cents per Kwh is not very high at all compared to much of the country...

    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 2:56PM
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Helps to know the correct terminology.

Big difference between an oil fueled furnace versus an oil fueled boiler.

Have you made an effort to contact Burnham?

Do you have existing ductwork system for AC?

And previous poster is correct. 8 cent KWH cost for electric is certainly inexpensive.


    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 3:34PM
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We just got our electric bill yesterday that was for most of the time we had our Christmas lights on. 1200 kw cost us $200. What a deal! I'm in NJ

Check with Burnham about converting your boiler. Make sure you know the model and rating. If it's convertible you could probably use a Carlin EZ-gas for the conversion.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 4:11PM
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"At that time, my contractor told me it didn't make much difference whether i was burning gas or oil--it would be about the same."

The prices of oil and gas were closer four years ago, but gas was still cheaper. I am suprised the contractor would make the statement above. Is this is an oil heating company. If yes then it explains why they are partial to oil heating.

I wish I had your electricity rates. My rates average about 18 cents per KHW.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 4:31PM
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