NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - Grimacing at the thought of a heating bill is not uncommon these days, and because of this, more people in Hampshire County are converting their heating systems from oil to natural gas.
Gary Wilson owns Wilson Services, Inc. and has been installing heating, plumbing and cooling systems for 23 years. He told 22News the price of oil has been the driving force behind a spike in his business. This year, he has seen a 30% increase in the number of homeowners looking for a conversion.
"Oil many people see it as going up and up at this point gas seems to be pretty stable and there's actually been a reduction of costs of natural gas," Wilson told 22News of the cost of natural gas. Since September of 2011, the average price for 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas has dropped nearly $6.
Doug Weihrauch converted his heating system last December. He says that prior to switching to gas, he was averaging $3,000 in heating costs for the season.
"We would get bills, we would get a delivery and it would upwards of a thousand dollars, and suddenly you'd have to try to come up with the money pretty quickly. It was very difficult to do that, so yeah, it's definitely nice to not only lower our monthly bill but have a budget planned," Weihrauch said.
Natural gas is a resource that's becoming a dominant energy source because of its efficiency. "This is called a low-mast system, hence it's sitting on a wall and it vents out the side of the building with plastic pipes. These systems are so efficient they actually cannot vent into the conventional chimney," said Wilson of the heating system he installed in Weihrauch's home.
A heat pump water heater can be up to three times more energy efficient than a conventional electric water heater; a plus for Weihrauch who says, so far, the heating system has saved him more than $2,000 on heating costs.
"It's going to be somewhere around $500 to $600 a year, so we are talking about one fifth the cost. Part of that is that we've taken the hot water off the boiler system but a big chunk of that is the heating savings," said Weihrauch who also installed 27, 7.5 Kilowatt, solar panels on his roof to save on energy.
The costs for these types of conversions can run anywhere from $7,000 to $14,000. But there are programs that offer zero percent financing , rebates and tax credits; services that will drive costs down.
Natural gas is also not available in all areas, to find if you are eligible to receive natural gas visit https://www.columbiagasma.com/en/get-connected/home/convert-to-gas/gas-availability-request.aspx.
According to the state's Department of Energy Resources , the average price for a gallon of home heating oil is $4.11.