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Thread: Tell me about Natural Gas and new furnace

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    Cincinnati Ohio
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    Tell me about Natural Gas and new furnace

    NOTE:My old service guy who retired 3 years ago put the oil furnace in new. Before he retired he told me to never let anyone tell me I needed a new furnace. I could get any part needed.

    Hvac guy out today to do the fall service on my 40 year old oil furnace. He was recommended by my old service guy. I started the conversation how old my furnace was etc.....
    He said my Williamson brand furnace, if the motor would go out, I would need a new unit because a new motor could not be had. Something about the frame was different ??
    When the oil furnace was put in by my parents, natural gas was not available, but now is available on my street.

    Anyway...... I know I am way over due.
    My new Hvac guy said the local natural gas co would put the service to my house for free but I had to hook up to it within 6 months. Since it can take up to 6 months for Duke Energy to put in my new gas line, He suggested I get the line in now and replace my 14 year old electric water heater with gas to satisfy the 6 month requirement,then, if the oil furnace goes out it can be replaced with gas. If the oil furnace goes out in the winter, I will have no choice but to replace with oil. Again, Because of the 6 month lead time to get a line installed. I would love to get rid of oil.

    I am new to natural gas. Know it can differ by area but what is the minimum charge a month(assuming there is one like my shop electric meter) for gas and would it be a wast to just have a water heater running off of it?
    I am very seriously thinking about having the line installed now and having a water heater and furance put in. Just trying to figure out all my options.
    The Hvac guy said I would save a ton with a new gas system vs oil. Anyone switch from oil to gas? what was your savings like, 1/4 or 1/2 or ??? of oil.
    Should I just get a gas furnace and stay with electric for the water heater? would the minimum gas charge not be worth it in the summer months with only a gas water heater? Can I even cancel my gas service in the summer months to avoid a monthly charge?

    Tell my anything about what I am not thinking about.
    Last edited by Dave Lehnert; 09-25-2020 at 12:17 AM.
    "Remember back in the day, when things were made by hand, and people took pride in their work?"
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
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    2,183
    Here the minimum monthly charge is about $12, I pay that for my shop where the gas heater isn't used in the summer. It's very unlikely you can turn it off for a couple months every year; having them pull and reinstall your meter twice a year would get very old quickly -- but you can certainly ask what the alternatives are. Yes you will save a lot with a new 90+ efficiency gas furnace vs a 40 year old oil burner. I'd' guess half pretty easily.

    Note that internal gas piping will be on you, where I live there will be a multi thousand dollar job.

    That said, you may well want to consider a heat pump as an alternative. It is a much more efficient solution with regard to energy use, how the operating cost works out will be a function of your local prices. Your electric company may be able to provide you with estimated costs, or if your state has an energy efficiency program they can probably help you with relative local costs. If you haven't already done it, most states have a program to evaluate home energy use and often offer great discounts on insulation and air sealing (in MA you can have $2K of approved insulation and air sealing work every year for free). Air sealing and insulation is by far the most effective (ie return per dollar spent) thing you can do to reduce energy use and cost.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Doylestown, PA
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    6,326
    We've had gas since 1995 when we moved into this house. There's no sort of minimum charge. We have gas hot water and gas hot air furnace. We also have a gas stove. One benefit is that we have a source of heat in the event of a power outage. I can't compare gas vs. oil as we've never had oil.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2009
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    N.E, Ohio
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    That said, you may well want to consider a heat pump as an alternative.
    I had a heat pump in Louisville Ky and it sucked. In the winter the warm air supply was cold to the touch if the electric back-up heat was not on, I would never have one again. My brother-inlaw has geothermal and in my opinion it is not any better than a heat pump and I would not have one of those either, same issue as a heat pump.
    George

    Making sawdust regularly, occasionally a project is completed.

  5. #5
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    Apr 2013
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    Kansas City
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    H
    Note that internal gas piping will be on you, where I live there will be a multi thousand dollar job.
    I believe this is true and would be a deciding factor for me.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    54,792
    I'm very much a fan of natural gas over oil for heating and hot water. It's been very economical here in our home. It's also my preferred source of heat for cooking. The added bonus is that our whole house generator runs on it so we're never without power for more than about 15-20 seconds.

    I agree with your current HVAC contractors advise to get the gas line ordered and installed and then leverage moving your water heating to that format. Consider a tankless unit at the same time...a little more expensive to initially install but very frugal on fuel. Never-ending hot water, too. Then you can plan for moving to a high efficiency gas furnace. Both it and the water heater can be vented with PVC at this point with modern high efficiency units.

    I suspect you will enjoy having natural gas to service your home.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Pickens, SC
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    1
    We converted 15 years ago from all electric to all gas.
    Furnace, Water, Stove, Fire Place and Dryer.
    Added a yard light that got me a slightly better rate
    Both the wife and I prefer gas for cooking.

    Howard Garner

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Northern Florida
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    338
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    ...I suspect you will enjoy having natural gas to service your home.
    Agreed. I've converted 2 houses from oil to natural gas and had to leave both behind. We're too far from the service lines now but I'd do it in a heartbeat if I could. (Yes, I know about propane but my point is gas - yes, oil - no.) I would not wait for the furnace to fail and risk not having one at the worst possible time. Also consider that the newer systems of any type are far more efficient. We replaced a 25-year-old Carrier heat pump system while it was still working well because we could do it on our terms and we're saving money every month.

    [Edit: You asked specific questions I didn't answer. I can't tell you about costs - it was too long ago - but we were happy. Something to consider depending on where you live is your oil tank. If it must be removed or filled, that's a cost item. (We filled one, removed one, and found that the one we removed was the only thing holding back the rust on the pipes of the abandoned lawn sprinkler system. Came out in the morning to find a hole with 300 gallons of water in it.)

    We were not entirely happy with the gas hot water in a conventional tank. It would initially be too hot out of the tap and then cool some. There is a fix for this with a recirculation valve but we didn't do it before we moved. A tankless system might not have this problem and in any case, it would not have been an expensive fix.

    Having gas in the house made it possible to put a gas log in the fireplace and in addition to the ambiance, it was all the heat the house needed on some days.]
    Last edited by Alan Rutherford; 09-25-2020 at 11:31 AM.

  9. #9
    I would convert. Not now but wait for your next swing season(between heat and cooling.) the furnace and water heater can be installed by you with nothing more than a screw gun for duct hookup and pipe wrench for piping. I would leave your A-coil/condensor for now that would be where you need someone. Water heaters for NG 40 gallon without a fan are about $450 and a furnace 3500 or so, but this depends on size and efficiency. Not sure what your jurisdiction says about having licensed plumber for everything.

    But I would find out where they want the meter and run from that point leaving a tee and valve with a plug in it for anything you could possibly ever want(fireplace/stove/grill/dryer/water heater/and furnace. once its all together stubbed out the side of the house the gas company usually wants to see a pressure test of about 15 psi on your piping.

    I wouldnt convert because your service guy says you should I would convert because gas is cheaper at heating things than electric and cleaner than oil. Im a commercial mechanical contractor and I see a lot of service guys try and sell new equipment even go as far as force a reason too on my grandmother. There are honest ones out there but basically if they are a 100 million dollar company they have to sell to stay in business.

    Split systems work in the right situation but cant do everything well

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Michigan, USA
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    410
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Lehnert View Post
    My new Hvac guy said the local natural gas co would put the service to my house for free but I had to hook up to it within 6 months. Since it can take up to 6 months for Duke Energy to put in my new gas line, He suggested I get the line in now and replace my 14 year old electric water heater with gas to satisfy the 6 month requirement,then, if the oil furnace goes out it can be replaced with gas. If the oil furnace goes out in the winter, I will have no choice but to replace with oil. Again, Because of the 6 month lead time to get a line installed.

    I am new to natural gas. Know it can differ by area but what is the minimum charge a month(assuming there is one like my shop electric meter) for gas and would it be a wast to just have a water heater running off of it?

    Tell my anything about what I am not thinking about.
    I would guess that the 6-month wait for Duke Energy to do its part is a one-time event, to get a line from the street to your home and install a meter. Once you have that line, the rest (inside the house) would be done by plumbers and/or HVAC folks.

    Around here, Consumers Energy charges an $11.75 "Customer Charge" monthly. On our last bill, the actual gas charges came to about $13 - that was to run the water heater, gas range, gas grill and probably two or three chilly evenings of furnace use.

    Other considerations might be other appliances you might want to hook up to gas. I much prefer our gas range to our old electric, and I love having the grill hooked up to natural gas (no more screwing with propane tanks that run dry at inconvenient times). We still have an electric dryer, which we brought from our previous home, but the laundry room is plumbed for gas, so our next dryer will likely be gas.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    1,955
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Lehnert View Post
    NOTE:My old service guy who retired 3 years ago put the oil furnace in new. Before he retired he told me to never let anyone tell me I needed a new furnace. I could get any part needed.

    Hvac guy out today to do the fall service on my 40 year old oil furnace. He was recommended by my old service guy. I started the conversation how old my furnace was etc.....
    He said my Williamson brand furnace, if the motor would go out, I would need a new unit because a new motor could not be had. Something about the frame was different ??
    When the oil furnace was put in by my parents, natural gas was not available, but now is available on my street.

    Anyway...... I know I am way over due.
    My new Hvac guy said the local natural gas co would put the service to my house for free but I had to hook up to it within 6 months. Since it can take up to 6 months for Duke Energy to put in my new gas line, He suggested I get the line in now and replace my 14 year old electric water heater with gas to satisfy the 6 month requirement,then, if the oil furnace goes out it can be replaced with gas. If the oil furnace goes out in the winter, I will have no choice but to replace with oil. Again, Because of the 6 month lead time to get a line installed. I would love to get rid of oil.

    I am new to natural gas. Know it can differ by area but what is the minimum charge a month(assuming there is one like my shop electric meter) for gas and would it be a wast to just have a water heater running off of it?
    I am very seriously thinking about having the line installed now and having a water heater and furance put in. Just trying to figure out all my options.
    The Hvac guy said I would save a ton with a new gas system vs oil. Anyone switch from oil to gas? what was your savings like, 1/4 or 1/2 or ??? of oil.
    Should I just get a gas furnace and stay with electric for the water heater? would the minimum gas charge not be worth it in the summer months with only a gas water heater? Can I even cancel my gas service in the summer months to avoid a monthly charge?

    Tell my anything about what I am not thinking about.
    I converted my failing Peerless propane furnace and new-ish tank water heater with a tankless Navien combi-boiler two years ago and it's been great. https://www.navieninc.com/residential/combi-boilers

    Gas bill in the non-heating months for hot water and cooking is next to nothing. Tiny super-efficient unit allowed me to gain a ton of space back in the mechanical room.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
    Posts
    5,155
    Paid the gas bill last night so I still had it out. PG+E in California has no meter charge so if you use no gas there is no charge unlike electric and water. PG+E is bankrupt due to causing fires so they must be thinking of every way to charge more.
    NG is the cheapest form of heat. Solar may be cheaper if it does not tie up too much investment and if the equipment lasts long enough.
    Bill D

  13. #13
    Natural gas in a heart beat. At the street in front of our house is a transmission line (1300 psi,) which can be tapped using a "runt regulator." But our house is over 800 feet from street, so it would cost several thousand (approx $10 per foot) run gas line to house. Our rental house (on front lot) is close enough to hook up, which we will do in later part of year when new tenants move in. Our house currently has two heat pumps (2019 install) which replaced two Carrier heat pumps, circa 1980. Power bill dropped by over one third. On original section of house we had heat pump with gas furnace. Because furnace used 110, it was easy to hook up to generator during winter storm outages. Furnace had a plug in cord. Currently, we use propane for cooking, water heating, clothes drying, and emergency heat. At an average of $2.45 a gallon, natural gas is about 50% cheaper. This winter , I am installing a hydronic coil in plentum under furnace to use for supplimental and emergency heat, using HW for heat source.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Vancouver Canada
    Posts
    359
    I live in an area that has a lot of taxes and added fees - so my bill is a little higher than you folks to the south, but here's my perspective. I replaced an old originally oil burning furnace later converted to natural gas, about 16 years ago.
    If I had the choice to make today here is what I would do...
    High efficiency gas furnace (but make sure it's properly sized);
    Tankless gas water heater (Bosch, Rinnai..);
    Run a line to your kitchen for a natural gas stove - there's a reason commercial chefs prefer it;
    Run a gas line out to your BBQ, unless you're a wood burner.
    Here's the main issues for me - not only is gas cheaper, AND environmentally more appropriate, it's cleaner! No matter how tuned my oil furnace (before conversion) was, my folks had to repaint walls and clean drapes every 2 years. With gas, there's no soot!
    Young enough to remember doing it;
    Old enough to wish I could do it again.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    54,792
    I forgot to mention that my neighbor had a gas line installed from the street not long ago. It did take awhile to get it done, but given they need to dig up the street (which is a busy state road), put in a tap on the main, get the line to her home (not super long but "inconvenient" path) and then get the meter installed and connected to the house side of the gas plumbing already installed by an HVAC company...plus various inspections...that time period wasn't surprising. But as has been noted, it's a one-time deal. What IS important is that from the meter in, besure the gas lines are appropriately sized for the FUTURE consumption, not that initial water heater.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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