My Boil over Oil

Holy pancakes. Y’all, oil heating, what theeeeee heecck? So, I’ve got one of those “What they didn’t tell you about being a home owner moments” coming right up for you. Our house has an oil heater, turns out, that’s bad. Now, normally in the South, we wouldn’t even be thinking about heating our house until like December, but truth be told, we put the cart in front of the horse again and got ourselves into a bit of a pickle. I’m (quasi) happy to report that Jay is totally to blame for this incident and that I had nothing to do with it 😀 Yes, I do take some pleasure in that.

See, it all started when Jay decided he wanted a gas range. To his credit, it’s a beauty of a gas range. 😉 Here’s a sneak diddly peak at what landed on our doorstep on Tuesday!

GE Cafe Dual Fuel

We kinda both agreed that we knew we’d want to convert everything over sooner or later, so we figured it would be a good investment to run some gas lines through the house. The good news, if we connected either a water heater or a furnace to said gas line from the utility, then they would run it to our house for free! Picture us nodding along like Ed the hyena at this point. Sounds good, right? So we proceed, and have the gas company come on out and install this bad boy for us. Here’s a photo of the furnace/water heater combo we had before.

Old Oil Burning Fireplace

The catchy catch (noted above) is that we have to install a furnace or water heater. Now, we knew we wanted to replace both of these things. We’d heard that both are quite a bit more expensive to run (oil vs. gas for the furnace, and electric vs. gas for the water heater). It wasn’t until we started doing our research though that we realized how expense they’d be to run. Specifically, this chunk of love oil burning furnace.

Oil Burning Furnace

Y’all, cover your children’s ears, because what I’m about to tell you is down right ugly. After sleuthing around a bit, we found out that the cost to heat our house for the winter, was going to be close to $1,500. We called a local oil company that services the triangle, and they indicated we’d be looking at a rate of $4.49 per gallon, and that we’d most likely need 400 gallons to get us through winter. If you pull out your calculators, you’d see that’s over $1,700. For just our heat. For just the winter.

You guys, we came from Michigan last year and our entire YEAR of heating and cooling and all our other electric things – like total utility bills for the year – was less than that. Like significantly. (We averaged just over $100 a month for the entire year) And it was -40 one day last winter – NEGATIVE FORTY, people! So, after I was done choking on my spit post telephone call from the sweet old lady at the oil company – I looked at Jay and said, son, we’ve gotta DO something about this!

Here in lies the conundrum. We got this news at a time when we were not planning on replacing the furnace. We knew we had to replace either the furnace *or* the water heater, but turns out due to a perfect trifecta of a “traditional” style water heater (i.e. tanked) not working with the existing furnace (since it can’t be vented via the chimney, since the furnace already vents through there and there isn’t room for both), we either had to proceed with an ultra efficient, ultra expensive, tankless water heater or we had to bite the bullet and spring for a furnace. Since along with running the gas line in the interior of the house the tankless water heater would cost us $3,500, we decided it would be prudent to convert the furnace first and put in a less expensive tanked heater later.

So I started shopping around, and we had (3) different HVAC companies come out to tell us about our options. Here’s what they said:

  • $5,500 for 90% efficient furnace, and gas line run
  • $4,600 for 92% efficient furnace, and gas line run
  • $5,800 for 95% efficient furnace, no gas line run

In the end, we landed up going with the least expensive option, at which at $4,600 was a pretty hard pill to swallow. Keep in mind, we were not planning on this expense whatsoever, so needless to say, it was a bit of a shock to the system. Lucky for us a few of our other expenses have been coming in under budget, so that gave us some extra dough to tackle this beast. As a point of comparison – we paid under $2,000 last year for a 95% efficient furnace in Michigan – so we were a bit surprised by the pricing down here in NC. I may or may have not cried in a corner. We’re like – wait – I thought cost of living was supposed to be lower in the South. FALSE. That is false.

Here is our new furnace, all shiny and well, ginormous. Not sure what the deal is with the space ranger vent off to the side. Apparently it’s necessary. Thank goodness this monstrosity is in our basement and not upstairs, y’all.

Converting from Oil to Gas

Bingo. Bango. Bongo. I’m personally a big fan of this hunka chunka metal, because although it cost me more money than I personally feel should be godly possible, it’s also going to save me a cool grand this winter. And the next one, and the next one. Once we sat down and did the math, we knew it was a no brainer, even though it was a heart breaker.

Compared to our old place, this guy’s venting system is super small and tight against the siding, too – which is great. You can barely notice it from the outside. See how it’s totally streamlined with the siding out there?

Furnace Venting out Side

It’s a little cumbersome on the inside, but some of the other options were way, way worse, so in the end, we’re pretty happy with how it turned out. This is a close up shot of the venting that’s outside.

Side Vent Furnace

In addition to installing the furnace, a sizable chunk of our expenses was for the gas line installation as well. Although it was pricey, it’s going to be so nice to have a gas range in this house (not to mention a gas water heater and furnace). Added bonus, since we already had the 220 line installed through there (the last oven was electric), we were able to get a dual fuel oven, which is supposed to be optimal for both baking and stove top cooking. Swanky.

Now that we’ve converted over the furnace though, we do still need to save our pennies to give the electric water heater the boot. Right now, this guy is nearly half of our electric bill each month, so it would be nice to minimize that expense in the future. See the energy usage chart? You want that arrow on the far left, not the far right.

Electric Water Heater

I really can’t recommend the company that came out enough (not paid or perked in any way to say it!). They’re Carolina Heating and Cooling, if you live in the area, and they were awesome about talking through our options with us. Added bonus, the guy gave us a quote right on the spot when he came, where we had to chase the other (2) companies down with tons of phone calls and emails. Do you want my money or not people, carrumba.

And a week after our furnace was installed, do you know what I got in the mail? A plant. From the furnace dudes. WHAT? I mean, talk about Southern Hospitality. Color me impressed.

Indoor Plants

Anyone else install a furnace in the middle of July? 😀 Although it was a chunk-o-change, we’re super happy that come winter, we won’t have to worry about the astronomical cost of paying for oil for the old furnace!


5 thoughts on “My Boil over Oil

  1. holy cow! most of us don’t have furnaces here in florida, so i’ve never had to deal with it. but i can’t believe the cost! definitely a hard pill to swallow… BUT, you will love the savings… crappy now… worth it in the end! 😉

    1. The cost seemed astronomically high to us. I’m not sure if things like this were less expensive in Michigan since we were coming from a manufacturing state, but man alive, it was a total surprise to us for sure!

  2. Last May we trashed our oil furnace. The HVAC guys told us they were surprised it had not burned down our house yet it was so poorly maintained (we had just bought our home, it had been rented out for 10 years before that). We ended up super splurging for a Geothermal Unit but are feeling super happy about the efficiency and the cost of running it. But I get it: big cost + low esthetic impact = hard to swallow.

      1. Thanks so much!! I have really enjoyed starting to follow your blog! I found you when you were a guest blogger on 702 Park Project.

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