The gas company recently sent homeowners on my street a notice that
they will be installing natural gas service over the next couple of
months. The timing couldn't be better from my point of view. I have a
10 year-old oil tank the insurance co. wants replaced, and a furnace
(FHA) that dates from the early 70s. I also have a rented oil-fired hot
water heater. To my mind, a gas conversion was a no-brainer since all
those things need to go away soon.
I've gotten 2 quotes so far and was astounded at the cost. The
equipment itself isn't the problem -- but in both cases the
installation costs were over $3000, in one case closer to $4000. This
for what one contractor told me was a 1-day job (for a crew of course).
This seems awfully rich, because the entire job (furnace, water heater,
elec air cleaner) is coming in between $7,000 to $8,000. I am told they
will run gas pipe to the equipment from the meter, install everything,
connect the furnace to the existing ductwork (with whatever needs to be
adapted for that), run exhaust either thru the wall or up the chimney
with a liner, and remove the old equipment. The house is a mid-50s
bungalow with an 8-foot basement where the equipment lives. The
furnaces are both 75,000 BTU hi-efficiency gas units (higher-priced was
a Lennox, the other a Tempstar).
Is this a reasonable cost or am I missing something here?
It seems high, a state government agency in Wisconsin has estimated
$3500 for an average replacement.
You might want to omit the electronic air cleaner since your furnace
isn't going to be running all the time.
Be sure to have the furnace put on a dedicated electric circuit.
If air conditioning makes sense in your area, make it possible to add
I had the exhaust run directly through the wall. You may want to draw
outside air directly to the furnace to avoid a drafty basement (it will
require another pipe).
So get quote #3 or even #4, and see if you are still surprised.
It may just come down to, if you don't like what they are charging,
then don't do it. But if you want the work done, that is what it
costs, no matter what you think it "should" cost.
Unless you have some plausible evidence that the first two contractors
knew each other and discussed their bids with each other, that the two
bids came in with numbers in a similar ballpark, BOTH of which were
not to your expectations, then it sugests the problem MIGHT be in your
expectations. So go get a 3rd bid.
Reply to NG only - this e.mail address goes to a kill file.
You know the local contractors are aware of the gas line install and
may try making a killing on the residents:(
Just for the heck of it get prices from more folks including sears home
depot and lowes.
big companies probably charge more on average but are less likely to
gouge converting residents....
Doesn't sound that bad to me. It's a big job and running those
exhausts and laying pipe for the meter, etc is fairly labor intensive.
While yer at it, you might look into a high efficiency wood pellet
stove to be worked in there somehow too. Its cost per BTU is less
than methane presently. Or see if geothermal heat pump might be
something worth investigating for its lower long term operating costs.
The gas line you'll need anyway, but it may be worth at least
investigating some other heating options since you're sorta starting
Natural gas is running about 1/3 the cost of pellet heat and that's at $3.20 a
bag ($160/ton). You can run the numbers against your gas and electric rates
Would be very cool if you can handle the install costs and have the ground that
supports trenches over wells. Else it gets very expensive to install.
I wouldn't pay more than $3500 for the furnace and water heater including a
10 year parts/labor warranty.
I just had a condensing gas furnace (75k, Armstrong) installed for $2400
which included both intake and exhaust PVC pipes. The water heater should
only be another $600 max more. You should expect to pay extra for the gas
pipe to the meter. I'm not sure if the chimney will need a liner with ONLY
the water heater vented to it. All this is no more than a long day's work
for ONE person providing the gas and venting lines are not too complex. Keep
looking for quotes. I found that the one/two man shops with small ads in the
yellow pages provided the best quotes, some of the larger companies were up
to $5000 just for the furnace!!! . Make sure they pull a permit BEFORE the
job. Make sure the furnace is sized correctly for your home's heat loss.
Thanks for this -- just for info, the breakdiwn I got from the lowest
of the 2 quotes went like this (all numbers are in Canadian dollars,
but that's not much difference these days from US):
Furnace $1950 (92% eff. Tempstar)
HW heater 40 gal forced vent $1250
Elec. air cleaner $600
Installation & removal $3200
This is from a 2-man shop and I like these guys from what I've seen to
date. The other quote is from a bigger outfit and is about $500 more.
Gas is relatively new to this area and there are only about 1000 homes
using it, so there ins't a lot of experience among contractors nor a
lot of choice.
The problems with gas is you get locked into a monopoly that charges you
even when you aren't using the product, is subject to outages and is far
more dangerous than oil.
With oil you have multiple suppliers in competition that you can choose
from, you have an on-site fuel supply that is not subject to outages
from a back hoe miles away, and I think you'll find the ratio of peoples
houses that have been destroyed by gas leaks compared to those destroyed
by oil leaks astonishing.
Also if you want to be "green" you can burn biodiesel and/or waste veg.
oil in your oil furnace as well, something you can't do with a gas
In spite of all your "cons' of gas, if it was available to me tomorrow, I'd
change tomorrow. Do you honestly think oil is competitive in price? The
dealers in this area are doing rather well for themselves and price between
them varies a couple of pennies at best. Gas remains competitive to oil
when priced in therms in most regions.
I've lived with gas for many years in previous houses and we still use it at
work. In all of those years, I've never had an outage, but my oil dealer did
run me out twice. In my lifetime (60 years) the score is Gas 0, Oil 2.
While I agree with you in principle, there are regional variations that make
natural gas and fuel oil very close in pricing.
There was a time when natural gas was substantially less than fuel oil, but then
the utilities built a bunch of peak demand electricity plants fueled by natural
gas and that increased demand to the point that the gap is much smaller.
All energy is tied anyway, so increases in one for any reason will drive the
The last time I looked (not this year) there were significant
differences in oil supplier costs on the order of $0.15+/gal. They also
give senior discounts that my mother takes advantage of that are another
$0.05/gal and a COD (really 3 day) discount that is a few more cents /
Do your gas price comparisons include the amount that the gas monopolies
charge you every month even if you use no gas? There is no such thing
with oil companies and maintenance contracts are a separate thing
applicable to both oil and gas.
Sorry I don't have 60 years of experience, but in 36 years I have never
experienced a single oil outage. Even if I did have an outage, all it
would mean is a trip to my local gas station for a couple 5gal cans of
diesel which would last several days until a regular oil delivery,
something that is not an option with gas. No need for "emergency
I'd take gas in a minute over oil any day. I've had homes with both
and in my experience, gas is far more reliable. The core of the
problem is oil has to rely on spraying pressurized oil out of a hole
the size of a human hair. It's common for the nozzle to get fouled and
then the burner won't light. Plus, oil requires regular cleaning of
the burner, replacement of the nozzle and fuel filter, etc. In my
current home, I've been here 10 years and have never had to have a
service call on my gas furnace, while it was common with oil heat.
I don't know where you live that you are so concerned with nat gas
outage. In 25 years of nat gas service, I've never had it go out for
even an hour. For the vast majority of folks, they are far more likely
to lose electric power, and they don't have generators, which puts them
out of commission. So, why worry about the far more remote possibility
of a gas outage?
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