Author Topic: Convert to gas?  (Read 2581 times)

livrocentral

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Convert to gas?
« on: July 06, 2015, 08:57:14 AM »
I'm buying a house that currently has electric heat. Electric baseboards on the main floor and basement, and a new heat pump (13 seer) ducted through the entire house. House is a 1.5 story with about 1400 SF above grade and 300 finished below. Located in Pennsylvania; we definitely have winters. Average lows are in the low 20s but we usually see at least a week or two in the teens or lower. In our current house we keep the indoor temperature around 66-68 during the day and 60 at night.

Natural gas conversion is available but the main is some distance from the house, so extending the line would cost "between $600 and $1500" per the gas company. Then there is the cost of switching to gas appliances, which could include the water heater, stove, dryer, and furnace. Less any proceeds from selling the existing appliances, but I'm not counting on much.

First question is to anyone who uses electric heating (either baseboards or heat pumps) in moderately cold climates like this one. How much should we expect to spend if we don't convert to gas? The house is vacant so we don't have that information from the current owner.

Next question is whether there are any other variables to consider in determining the point at which this is worth it financially. Although we have no immediate plans of leaving this place (or we wouldn't be buying) realistically we probably won't be here more than 10 years. I'm sure gas would be a selling point (some in the neighborhood have converted, some have not).

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

« Last Edit: July 06, 2015, 01:06:42 PM by livrocentral »

Axecleaver

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Re: Convert to gas?
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2015, 09:33:47 AM »
Electric heat as your main source is really inefficient. It depends quite a bit on the size and shape of the house and the level of insulation. You may be able to get historic electric usage from years past, before it was vacant. Natural Gas is one of the cheaper heating sources today due to fracking making so much supply available domestically. You'll save even more with wood or wood pellet stoves, but they require some work to manage.

I knew some folks in upstate NY who heated a 1500 sq ft rental house with electricity in the winter; cost them around $600-700 a month (about $50 in the summer). But, it's really hard to say what your heating would cost. You could also consider kerosene space heaters as a stop-gap.

Taking a SWAG at it, your ROI for gas conversion is probably in the 3-4 year range. Tax benefits may be available to offset some of the cost.

wkumtrider

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Re: Convert to gas?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2015, 10:07:46 AM »
I have an all electric house with a 13 or 14 SEER heat pump.  Our bill averages around $250-$300 month in the winter.  I live in KY and we do get pretty cold winters, especially in the past two years (had a few weeks in single digits).  We keep the thermostat on 65 for most of the day and turn it down to 63 at night (bedroom is upstairs).  Our house is approximately 1700 sq feet.  Hope this helps.

abiteveryday

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Re: Convert to gas?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2015, 10:15:38 AM »
I work for an electric utility.    Converting to gas heat is worth it 99.9% of the time.    If you are one of the edge cases paying $.02 per kWh then enjoy it, but for many many people that is a good conversion to make.   

mandy_2002

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Re: Convert to gas?
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2015, 11:38:16 AM »

Natural gas conversion is available but the main is some distance from the house, so extending the line would cost "between $600 and $1500" per the gas company. Then there is the cost of switching to gas appliances, which could include the water heater, stove, dryer, and furnace. Less any proceeds from selling the existing appliances, but I'm not counting on much.


Just because you have gas to the house doesn't mean you HAVE to have a gas range/stove/dryer.  If the current appliances work well, I'd keep them and forgo the additional cost of connecting these areas to the gas line.  When the system is installed, ensure that additions could be done easily (in an accessible area, possibly with blocked T's if legal).  That way, you can wear the appliances down and make the changes yourself, or use easy adaptability as a selling point in the future. 

To determine if this is a good idea, you can get three different quotes from the installers, one with everything piped up, one with only the heat and water heater piped, and the last with each small run completed after the fact.  If the partial completion and small runs are far more than the total install, you can go for it, but if not, consider it a phase project and put more down for the house or in savings. 

catccc

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Re: Convert to gas?
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2015, 12:28:20 PM »
Our rental (we are the tenants) has gas heat and hot water, but our appliances are all electric.  It's on demand hot water, so there's no water heater tank thingy.  We previously had oil heat and electric hot water before our landlord gave us the sweet upgrade.

If this was our place and not a rental, and we were doing the conversion, DH would probably have them put the gas line in for the stove, since he prefers that over electric for cooking.  I would have elected to the keep the dryer on electric since it is infrequently used, anyway.

We still keep the heat on kinda low in the winter time and use electric space heaters for the smaller areas we use- especially at night when we don't want to be heating a whole level of home nobody is using.

livrocentral

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Re: Convert to gas?
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2015, 01:05:41 PM »
Great info everyone! This is very helpful--thanks!!