We have an oil steam boiler with integral water heater. Is there a reasonable payback to convert to natural gas?

Asked by Rob Westhelle
Portsmouth, NH

We live in Portsmouth, NH. The house was built in 1940. The system is single pipe steam, all one zone. The utility company would charge us $1,500 to bring gas to the house, and to get a new high-efficient gas steam boiler can be costly. Is there long-term payback? Is there value added to the home for having natural gas? Option 2 is to install a heat pump electric hot water heater so the boiler isn't on all four seasons. Thoughts/recommendations?


Ted Kidd

Answered by Ted Kidd

Rochester, NY

Ted Kidd Energy Guru

November 23, 2010

This is a bit like diagnosing a disease AND prescribing treatment without seeing the patient.

  • My gut reaction is converting from steam to hot water heat would be one great option.
  • Some modern high-efficiency condensing gas boilers modulate based on outdoor temperatures, which means they save an incredible amount of energy while also dramatically increasing comfort and control.

You need to have an energy audit performed by a BPI-Accredited heating company that has experience converting from steam to hot water. The report from the energy auditor should show you a few different strategies and include cost/benefit analysis.


For more information:

Read Richard Parker's Q&A "Can you help me select a high efficiency furnace?"

Tagged In: heating cooling, winter energy

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