This Cold House: $7,400 for a new boiler

rosemarytMarch 2, 2011

After too much research and too many sleepless nights, we're taking the plunge and pulling out a nine-year-old oil-fired boiler and putting in a high efficiency gas-fired boiler (tankless).

The local utility is offering a $500 rebate, plus we get $300 tax credit (in a year). Most compelling: Our 275 gallon oil tank is ready for another fill, and it'll cost $700+ to fill it up.

We've been spending $600 per 27 days to stay warm this winter and that is obscene. During the last fill, I went outside and chatted with Mr. Oil Truck Driver. While he was pumping the liquid gold into our tank I asked him, "We used almost 200 gallons last month. Is that normal?"

He said,"Everyone's taking between 150 to 200 gallons this time. It's pretty typical."

Note, we're in NORFOLK, VA which has pretty mild winters.

TWO of my neighbors installed this high efficiency tankless boiler in the last 30 days and saw their $500+ oil bill drop to $125 to $150. Not one, but TWO.

Still, it pains me to spend money and we've dumped a ton in this old house.

Tell me I'm not the only one jumping off the oil-delivery bandwagon...

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We live in a rural area where access to main gas was non-existent until fairly recently. I have a range of g'houses I was heating with propane, and our house did not have central heat then........heated with electric baseboard (ouch, ouch, ouch). We have oil and gas on the property, but the well the farm next to us had was not dependable, and he felt it would be unfair to let us hook into that. Good thing, as they don't even use it anymore. So, as soon as gas because available, we invested in a modern boiler and went gas fired. I don't regret it. I also don't regret the five and six hundred dollar electric bills we had in winter and that was twelve years ago, I shudder to think what they would be now.

We don't have tankless hot water heat. We have a tank, so I am not familiar with that system, unless it works similar to tankless water heaters. But, I have a strong suspicion ANYTHING you can do to cut back utility bills now, will give you a better pay-back down the road even. I doubt utility rates are going to go waaaay down anytime soon.

I did not see that much difference in costs between natural gas and propane in my g'houses. That's because natural gas took a huge jump right after we laid the lines and converted, but's a relief not to have to keep checking propane levels and depend on deliveries in nasty winters. One crop failure would have done my business in.

We also added other energy saving retrofits to our big old house and we use 1/2 the energy we did just twelve years ago and it's also much more comfortable in here. I think we are now at the point it is paying us back, and prolly have been for about five years. I'm not sorry we took that leap.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 1:30PM
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I'd love to be able to get my Mother's 1903 monster Victorian off oil, but where she is it is the only viable heating fuel.

There is natural gas in her town, but not in her end of town anymore, so running a gas line would be... costly.

I've worked very hard on that house over the last several years to make it as fuel efficient and draft free as possible, and everything I've done has had a marked impact.

Her oil usage has dropped dramatically from 4 years ago.

Still, I'm not sure it's enough, so I've been after her for the last couple of years to let me install a pellet stove in the house.

A 70,000 BTU pellet stove would pay for itself in relatively short order if oil keeps jumping like it has been.

So far, though, no dice.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 3:42PM
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Here, gas is way cheaper than oil. It costs me about $750/year to heat my home + water. My uncle, in a similar ranch-style home on the same street, spent $2,000 just for heat so far this winter. And he has a new furnace, mine is 10 years old. Also, I keep my home warmer than he does. Other variables may affect his cost, but still, what a difference!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 9:33AM
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"I've worked very hard on that house over the last several years to make it as fuel efficient and draft free as possible, and everything I've done has had a marked impact."

don't know about high efficiency gas-fired boiler (tankless), or oil-fired boiler (although 9years old
isn't very old is it?)
BUT stopping unwanted air infiltration will make a huge
difference in efficiency, and more importantly comfort.

have a blower door test done and caulk and seal the air leaks. this is a great ROI for a diy job.

best of luck, and btw, pretty pink house!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 4:42PM
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Old houses eat money. However much you have dumped into yours, it looks gorgeous, and decreasing the cost of running it will make it better for you and more attractive if you decide to sell.

Math is definitely not my strong suit, but if your neighbors have reduced their heating bills by 75 percent and you are paying about $2400 now to heat over the course of a winter, you will be saving $1800 a winter. With the rebate, the system is costing you $6,900. It looks to me as though the payback on your investment, if natural gas prices stay stable, is less than four years. And that's not counting the tax credit.

Sounds like a deal to me. I think you done real good.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 4:13PM
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The problem with heating oil is that it is petroleum derived and you are competing for it with uses for which there is no substitute (such as airplane fuel). When oil prices increase, it's not as if you can switch airplanes to run on something else. So there is nothing to relieve the upward price pressure. Some of the applications of natural gas, otoh, can be replaced by burning coal or other sources (not that I'm a fan of coal, but it is an option). So, when the price of natural gas gets too high, applications that can change to other energy sources switch over, relieving price pressure. So even if you don't believe in peak oil, the price structure of natural gas puts incentives in favor of conversion to natural gas. When we bought our house, first thing we did was convert. For some reason our plumber loved oil-fired boilers (probably had a brother in the oil-delivery business) and tried to talk us out of natural gas. I'm glad we ignored him.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 9:14AM
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When we had our energy audit the technician hired by the electric company to do it told us point blank if we ever had the chance to hook on to natural gas for it and don't look back. LOL. slateberry makes some very good points.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 3:45PM
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