What To Know When Converting From Heating Oil To Gas

Posted on: August 25th, 2014 by RF Ohl
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Thinking about converting your heating system’s fuel source from heating oil to natural gas or propane? This video discusses the elements that you should really consider when making a decision to convert your fuel source of the heating system.

In this interview, Christopher Hardy discusses:

  • Items that a homeowner should consider when making a decision to convert their heating system’s fuel source
  • The advantages and disadvantages of converting form heating oil to natural gas or propane.
  • What to do with the oil tank
  • The math and metrics of a conversion

To learn more about converting your home’s heating system from oil to gas, call the professionals: R.F. Ohl

Call Today: (610) 377-1098

Video Transcript:
Brett: Hey guys, how are you? This is Brett Lewis from L4 Group and today I have Chris Hardy from R.F. Ohl joining us.

Chris: Good morning, how are you? Doing great thank you so much.

Brett: Awesome. So, Chris is a home comfort specialist at R.F. Ohl. And R. F. Ohl is a company located in Lehighton, Pennsylvania that provides heating, oil, propane, kerosene. They install and service heating and cooling systems and they also have a whole showroom with an outdoor line of patio furniture, awnings, grills, barbecues, anything else to add to that Chris?

Chris: Really we do every hearth, full hearth. So keep in mind your fireplaces both vented and unvented. And we also [sell and service water] heaters as well, so we do quite a bit.

Brett: Right, awesome. So basically a full line energy company that you know provides…I think Steve [Steve Ohl, President of R.F. Ohl] phrases it comfort in the home and comfort outdoors? Do you know the tagline on that?

Chris: Indeed I do, it’s indoor comfort and outdoor fun.

Brett: That’s it. Indoor comfort and outdoor fun. So, I know Steve, Steve is the president of R.F. Ohl, he gets excited with the outdoor time frames because he gets to come out and have fun with the barbecues and all [the related outdoor products].

Chris: Don’t we all?

Brett: Yup, but today we’re actually talking about heating systems and specifically about someone who’s contemplating doing the conversion from oil to gas. So one of the questions I have for you, Chris, is if a homeowner is considering to make a conversion over—whether that’s from heating oil to gas or heating oil to propane—what are the things that they should be considering when they make that decision?

Chris: I really always like a homeowner to look at their comfort level as of right now. You want to start there to understand is the system working for you exactly as it should. Is it keeping you and your family comfortable? Outside of that, I always like to look towards the pocket. Is it saving you money? Is it costing you more to operate or are you finding yourself with a large amount of service calls each year in order to keep that system running?

So those are my main factors when considering conversion from oil to gas. In some scenarios, those questions can be answered easily. In others not so much, they do take a further analysis to say is this really a good idea for me to change the fuel source. Maybe the system is just getting older in age and that needs replacement but not necessarily the fuel source.

Brett: Sure, that makes sense. So as the system gets older, maybe the efficiency’s dropping and there’s better alternatives out there. So you know what can you talk about as far as efficiency’s go with oil systems compared to gas systems. Can you talk a little about that?

Chris: Absolutely. The majority of the oil systems that we find out in the field today could range anywhere between say 70% and 80% what they call annual fuel usage efficiency. That is the AFUE rating. Even in this modern day, new oil furnaces will never achieve anywhere beyond 85% AFUE. So when you can look at a gas system which can easily offer you 93%, 95%, and in some cases 97% AFUE. So how well your system combusts your fuel. That’s what we’re looking at.

But when we look at efficiency we also want to consider the actual value, the heating value, of a gallon of fuel oil versus a gallon of propane or natural gas. Fuel oil combusts at a higher rate, a much higher rate. Almost 20,000 BTU more than what you’d find in a gallon of propane. So you want to keep in mind about combustibility rate, how much fuel you consume in the course of a year—not just a season—and then also how much have you spent to keep that fuel for that year period. Those factors will lead you to the correct numbers on efficiency.

You can also look to the future to understand what’s been happening with fuel prices. If propane is a dollar cheaper per gallon, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to stay that way. So your efficiency rate also needs to be looked at, at the dollar amount, the price per gallon, and how much you consume in the course of the season. That’s really going to lead you to the answer on is this the right move or is it not.

Brett: Okay, that sounds good. And what about advantages, disadvantages of making the change? Can you touch on that?

Chris: Absolutely. There’s actually two ways to look at this. First and foremost understanding is the system safe? Is it working properly right? Everybody wants to keep their system safe, burning correctly to keep their family safe. That’s the very first thing that you should look at is the actual unit itself. Consider the unit’s age, the unit’s age will tell you a lot about it and how well it’s been maintained. I mean we see classic cars on the block all the time that are pristinely maintained and then we also find that 2013 car which has been driven from here to California about 50 times without regard. So think of it that way. Don’t necessarily say that well since it’s only two years old, it must be fine. You always want to take into account how well has that system been maintained and what’s the current state of it now.

If you have a nice system that is currently using oil and you find that your costs are going up. You’ve done the math on the gas conversion. You don’t necessarily need to change the entire system, it’s what we call gun conversion. That is when you’re able to actually change the firing mechanism inside the unit from an oil source to a gas source whether that be propane or a natural gas. It is a cost effective way to change over to gas if gas is a feasible option for you and your family.

That’s the first step: consider the system. If you find that it’s older and you know that it’s been costing you money season after season, you may want to consider moving onto a higher grade system, new system, being installed the entire thing top to bottom including your venting as well. Always keep that in mind. Venting deteriorates over time if it’s not properly maintained. That is a very important portion of your system. That’s what keeps the harmful byproducts of combustion out of your home and away from your family.

So there’s a few things that every homeowner should think about when they talk about conversion.

Brett: Yeah that’s good. And the venting is basically to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and all the other harmful byproducts.

Chris: That is correct. CO is your largest one, it is absolutely dangerous. The other one is also nitrous monoxide and then there’s also water that is created from combustion. So some folks overlook those two factors but an overabundance of water is going to cause condensation problems. And then nitrous monoxide itself is another air-robbing substance. So it actually robs O2 from the space itself so again can become very dangerous if overlooked. So you definitely want to keep those things out of the home.

Brett: Sure, and then also what about the oil tank? I mean if someone converts over [from home heating oil to natural gas], what do they do with that tank [the heating oil tank]?

Chris: Homeowners often wonder this because, let’s face it, oil tanks are not exactly the size of a matchbox. But R.F. Ohl does offer full pump out, full removal, and of course if there’s any residual left behind we will clean as well. So we do offer full removal and disposal of oil tanks and we can also replace with either a new oil tank or propane tank in its location if code allows it.

Brett: Okay, awesome. And then one last thing, if a homeowner’s not really following as far as all of the math is concerned and [they're] trying to make a good decision. I’m assuming that you guys can help them walk through that and do an analysis to help them choose what the right solution for them is?

Chris: Absolutely. That is something that we do with every job that we look at. R.F. Ohl lives with the philosophy of finding the correct solution for the customer. We like to educate our customers on the entire process and that includes what are the benefits of changing your system from oil to gas. We are not the type of company which just says, “Well if it’s a furnace then it must be another furnace.” We have to understand what’s the correct type of furnace for you.

So we take great pride in guiding our homeowners and our customers on making the correct, informed decision. So the return on investment is a huge portion of that. Understanding comfortability levels and then also ease of operation and cost of operation over an extended period of time. So we look at this from many different angles.

Brett: That’s awesome. So I think that’s it as far as the questions go regarding conversions [converting from oil heat to gas]. Do you want to give everybody a phone number in case they want to contact you, if they have further questions, and the web address that they can go to?

Chris: Absolutely. Please feel free to give me a call at your convenience. Christopher Hardy, Home Comfort Specialist with R.F. Ohl, contact telephone is (610) 377-1098 and you can visit us on the web today at www.RFOhl.com.

Brett: Okay great and also if they are local to Lehighton, you guys are located at 400 Interchange Rd, right in Lehighton?

Chris: That is correct. We are about a mile up from the Mahoney Valley Turnpike exit heading towards Lehighton town. So please stop in and visit us today, we have a beautiful showroom. I am present there Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm for your convenience. If you ever have questions, please feel free to stop in, give me a call, or visit us on the web.

Brett: Okay awesome and one last thing, as far as the service area goes you cover a pretty wide range of territory in northeastern Pennsylvania. I mean you cover five counties, correct?

Chris: And that is Carbon, Monroe, Schuylkill, Lehigh, and Northampton. So we have quite an area to cover. There’s really nothing outside of the scope to say we couldn’t get there. We are a 24-hour day, 7 day a week, full service company with a live person who answers the phone anytime that you call.

Brett: Okay awesome. Well, Chris I want to say thanks for taking tie out today to talk to me. And answer those questions. Thanks a lot.

Chris: I appreciate it. You have a great day.

Brett: Okay you too!

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