You want to help the earth—and your wallet—by converting from oil to gas heat. But it’s hard to pull the plug on your old oil burner and shell out $10,000 for a new gas heat system. Come on, you know you want to do it. Here are some facts to help you step on the gas.
Big picture facts
- Half of all U.S. homes use gas heat, while only 8% heat with oil. Electricity, propane, and other locally available fuels heat the rest.
- Most natural gas is mined in the U.S.
- Gas prices depend on local conditions—weather, supply, and demand. Oil is a global commodity produced around the world and shipped here. The price depends on all of the above, plus international government relations, civil war, surging demand from developing countries, and sea pirates.
- Natural gas for heat is supplied directly into your home from underground gas lines: No waiting for oil trucks in a snowstorm. If a main gas line doesn’t exist in your neighborhood, your local utility may be willing to put one in. Get neighbors involved—there’s strength in numbers.
- Gas heat emits 23% less carbon dioxide than oil heat.
- Gas heat has averaged 30% to 50% less expensive than oil heat every year since 2002.
- The average cost of heating a home with oil between October 2009 and March 2010 was about $1,900; gas heat was $780. In winter 2010, the cost of gas heat is projected to decrease 11.4%, while heating with oil will increase 3.1%.
- You typically can recoup conversion costs within five years, depending on gas prices and usage. Use this heat cost calculator to determine how long it will take you.
- Many gas utility companies give rebates—sometimes $500—when you switch to gas heat. And the federal government allows a tax credit of up to $300 (it expires at the end of 2011) when you purchase eligible energy efficient products. That should take the sting out of the upfront cost of gas heat.