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February 05, 2009


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Why don't you buy a brand new furnace? I think that will be much more efficient in your case, as your oil furnace looks quite old. Well, if it has a sentimental value, then you can keep it, or you can convert into a gas furnace. Either way, the decision is yours.

I am really impressed with this post. Thanks for sharing this important information on oil and gas. I will definitely go through this.

My mother has a small rancher with an old oil fired furnace. The furnace heats the home with hot water base board heat . The base board heat is fine but the furnace is old and insufficient. The oil tank is under ground. Could the system be converted to the natural gas and tied into the current base board system.

Thanks for the great information. My wife has had a contentious relationship with our oil supplier and wants to convert to gas. Our home was renovated in 2006 (no plans to sell) and our heating was expanded to accommodate the added sq. footage (2600 in all). Our burner is probably at least 40 years old (it was here since I bought the house in 1986) but gets annual maintenence (83-85% efficiency). Our oil tank is in the basement, in good shape, and is nearly invisible since we painted it. We already have a gas line for our oven and water heat. Would we need a new line for gas heating?
I am reluctant to convert to gas due the expense and the present economy but my wife feels that she is being cheated by our oil supplier. Just want any more thoughts to see if it's worth it.


I know it's a tough decision. Since you have a relatively new furnace, you might check into converting it to gas-fired unit--that will still cost you some $$, but not as much as buying a
brand new furnace. (Cal your local utility to check this out.)
If you decide to stick with oil, I would definitely put a new tank inside--not underground outside--it will last much longer if not exposed to the elements. No one will ever have to worry about it corroding and leaking. A new tank will cost several thousand $$, and assuming you have a basement it could be installed there.
I had an old (60 plus years) underground oil tank removed from my elderly Mom's yard last year, and replaced it with a brand new tank which was put in a utility room in her basement. It cost me $450 to have her soil tested to make sure there was no leakage. Luckily, there wasn't.
The total cost of digging up the old tank, disposing of it, transferring whatever oil was in that tank to a new tank, buying the new tank and having it put into her basement utiltiy room with a proper pipe hook up to the outside for oil delivery was about $4,000.00. Yours might be less because they don't have to test your soil and dig up your old tank.
But, to buy a new tank (assuming you need one--although they might just be able to move your existing tank inside) would coast you at least a couple of thousand $$. I'm not sure how much it would be to just move the existing tank indoors, but if you decide to stick with oil heat I would definitely suggest having the tank indoors.
Before you make a decision to switch to gas heat you should ask your gas supplier to refer you to several households in your area who have done so. Talking to them will give you the best sense of whether or not it is worth the effort/$$ to make the switch.
As far as the buyers of my Mom's house were concerned, they were not remotely interested in gas heat, and were thrilled to see a brand new tank in the basement. It was a good investment, and I'm sure it added to the attractiveness of the house (which is in Northern NJ, by the way) when it came time to sell it!
Good luck, and let me know what you decide.

Our 1939 home is heated by oil with the tank being above ground just outside our dining room window.

We found out the house was originally fueled by coal and had one oil furnace installed about 40 years before we purchased the house in 1986. We installed a new furnace in 1999 or 2000.

Oil heat has never given us a moment's trouble but I have an issue with the behomoth oil tank in the back yard. I'd like to build an addition off the dining room but the tank is in the way.

I've done a fair amount of research on having the tank - or a newer version - buried in the yard but I'm seeing negative reviews about doing so. We're about to install our first ever HVAC system (yeah...we're THAT last American family that has never had whole house AC!) and will be including a heat pump system.

My dilemma is what to do with the tank. Should we take the plunge & convert to natural gas - which scares the bejeezus out of me & will cost a bloody fortune - or should we just forget about the addition?

Are folks with oil heat finding it's a deterrent when trying to sell their homes? We're considering selling within the next five years & don't want this to be an issue.

So many questions...so many decisions...such an ugly HUGE tank.


We have a very old large house with a oil heat system. The boiler is about 50-60 years old and with a 500,000BTU capacity. We use around 1500 gallons per heat season, when we put the heat at around 62 deg.

We have a 1000 gallon underground oil tank. We are thinking of changing to gas heat. Is this a wise move. I do not intend to stay in this big house, but the economy is bad and I cannot sell the house.
I'd appreciate your replies.

Really enjoyed reading your blog post. I will have to bookmark your site for later.

I recently switched from oil to gas heating in my home and I have loved it.

Hi Sean,

Interesting post on propane. My husband's dad, in the 1950s, converted his Plymouth to run on propane. He said it worked great. I'll write a post on this soon!

I found that the futures markets of wall street pretty much harmonized all the energy prices.

I found out that propane was way cheaper than gasoline for my car. And, then the price went up to match it.

Hi Tom,
According to our local utility, PSE&G, the cost of having a gas line installed varies widely. First, they need to know if a gas line already exists on your street. It's a lot cheaper if it does, because then PSE&G only has to lay a pipe from the street to your house. But costs still vary widely.
Depending on the new gas consuming appliances you install, and PSE&G's estimate of how much gas your household will use, you will receive what they call a revenue credit toward installation of the gas pipeline. So, for instance, if you are going to install a new 100,000 BTU gas heater, PSE&G will give you a handsome credit toward installation of the pipeline because they know your household is going to be consuming a fair amount of gas. Unfortunately, I couldn't get absolute $$ figure because it varies so much from residence to residence, but I was told that there are cases where the pipeline from the street to the house costs nothing. Again, it all depends on the revenue credit.
Your best bet is to call PSE&G and ask for their Construction Inquiry Dept., or you can go to their website and fill out a form called a gas load inquiry sheet. They will respond by sending someone to your house for an estimate. Their phone # for this is 1 800 722-0156. Press #1 for residential inquiries. Good Luck!

Hi Sarah,
Sorry it has taken me so long to respond, but we've been away. Our home is 1900 sq/ft and we used about 720 gallons of heating oil for the 2008/09 season versus 740 gallons in 2007/08, although this year was 9 percent colder in the Northeast where we live.

The actual temperature in our house during the day was 64 degrees, even though we kept our thermostat at 62. Our oil tank holds about 220 gallons, I think. So, we used a little over 3 tanks full of heating oil. Obviously, it depends on the capacity of your tank.

We are about to purchase an older home - with original windows. (not so energy efficient!) We are debating converting to gas when we move in. The original owners tell us that they go through 1.5 tanks/season. We spoke to someone else that said they may not be telling the truth...and that it will be closer to 3. The home is 2200 sq/ft. We don't keep our home really warm in the winter - usually around 68-ish. How many times would we need to fill it?

Thanks! Great article!

This information is very helpful. One thing I have not been able to figure out is the cost of having a gas line run from the street to my house. I have called Jersey Central Power & Light to ask but am unable to reach a liver person. Any ballpark figures are greatly appreciated.

Great synopsis of a question I have been pondering on for a long time. Thanks Janet!
As a a realtor I definately see that some buyers find gas more attractive, but I always tell them that an above ground tank removes the main issue with oil -- that of the underground tank and possible pollution of surroundings and nightmare tales of horrendous clean-up costs.

We actually did convert to gas and remove our oil tank a few years back at a cost of about $7500 including re-paving the hole in the driveway. We chose this route purely for re-sell reasons with the catalyst being the furnace failing. Whether or not it has saved us anything yet is not clear!

But I always remember one thing my plumber (and former oil supplier) told me at the time: "On a cold day, you won't be as happy with the heat from gas as you are with oil" and whether or not his reasons are accurate, it seems to us that he was right. According to him, when it's cold outside and you have gas, everyone cranks up their furnaces at the same time, the amount of gas you get to your home will be diminished and your house will not feel as warm. With oil you have your own oil supply, so it makes no difference how much your neighbors are using...

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