The local power company is adding natural gas pipelines to some rural areas and providing access to many neighborhoods -- including yours. You're not yet sure you're ready to switch from liquid propane, but you'd like to know more. Contact a furnace installation and repair service to find out what converting your furnace to natural gas would involve and the costs to expect.
Price Advantages of Natural Gas
Liquid propane is made from natural gas; the extra processing makes propane more expensive. In addition, propane fuel can be subject to volatile price fluctuations when demand rises and shortages develop. Propane is transported by truck and sometimes must be brought great distances to compensate for a shortage in certain regions.
If you normally lock in a propane price per gallon for the upcoming heating season, those fluctuations don't affect you. If you don't have the creditworthiness for this type of contract, however, you may find yourself paying substantially higher propane fuel costs in the middle of winter.
In the winter of 2014, consumers were hard hit by big spikes in propane prices during lengthy spells of bitter winter temperatures. Depending on where you live and whether you had a price contract, you may have felt the impact.
Two Advantages of Propane Usage
In a sense, you have more control over your heating fuel supply when you buy propane. If you lock in your price with a contract, you can adjust your fuel usage to a certain extent by monitoring the fuel gauge on the tank. You might set a restriction on the percentage of fuel you'll use each week, for example.
To compensate when temperatures drop, you might add heat to specific rooms through other sources, such as an efficient electric space heater in the living room or electric baseboard heaters in the bedrooms.
In contrast, with natural gas, there's no easy way to monitor your daily or weekly usage. You find out how much fuel you've burned when you get your next bill.
A second advantage of heating with propane is being able to choose among several suppliers. Natural gas usually is only provided by one company per region.
If you decide to make the switch, a heating and cooling technician can change the gas utilization fittings on your furnace so it runs on natural gas. He or she also will probably need to adjust the burners and regulators. The scope of the project means that this is generally not a do-it-yourself task; a qualified technician is the best person for the job.
You'll need to learn whether there are any fees for hooking up to the natural gas line. Although the pipeline may run right by your house, you still need a pipe and fittings to connect your heating system with it. You can find out the cost from the natural gas company. The company may actually provide the service at no charge or with a substantial rebate -- they want your business, after all.
You have a propane tank on your property now. If you're renting the tank, the propane service will pick it up and haul it away. If you own the tank, you'll need to make other arrangements unless having a useless propane tank in your yard doesn't bother you.
What Can You Do Now?
Provide your furnace brand and model information to a heating and cooling service in your area and ask any questions you have about furnace conversion. Also ask about converting other appliances in your house if they run on propane. After careful consideration of all the factors involved, you'll be ready to decide whether to switch to natural gas or stick with liquid propane.