Fuel oil is known to be a highly polluting heat source. Whether it is a residual fuel oil (#5 and #6) or a distillate fuel oil (#1, #2, #3, and #4) it is derived from petroleum. Distillate grades used in boilers include #2 and #4, and residual grades used for heating system boilers include #5 and #6, although #5 residual oil isn’t used for heating boilers in New York. Distillate grades are cleaner but more expensive than residual oil grades.
While some oil fuels are considerably cleaner than others, there is nothing clean about any of them. Ultimately, some fuel oils pollute our air more than other types, and some are more harmful to our health.
Even though natural gas is a fossil fuel, there is a strong case that continuing to switch from oil to natural gas will help drive momentum towards a decarbonized future. As National Grid’s Dean Seavers says, replacing dirtier oil with natural gas in the energy supply chain creates a backstop that allows the intermittent generation of renewable energy while the industry works on making large-scale energy storage technologies available.
NY Engineers advocates green design and technologies, and, like Seavers, we continue to promote reducing the global carbon footprint with oil to gas boiler conversions.
Apart from environmental issues, natural gas boilers in the U.S. cost less than half of what oil costs to fuel a boiler. Even though natural gas is more expensive in New York and the rest of the Northeast when compared to prices elsewhere in the U.S., it is still considerably cheaper than oil. When comparing the two fuel types in terms of cost per unit of heat, natural gas is 25% cheaper than fuel oil and 25% less expensive to run – presuming the two boilers have equal fuel efficiency. If an old, inefficient oil boiler is replaced with a modern, energy-efficient gas boiler the savings will be even higher.
Additionally, while heating oil has to be delivered in trucks to the point of use, utility companies like Con Edison and National Grid have natural gas distribution systems that are linked to individual buildings.
Oil-fired boilers also require more maintenance than systems that utilize natural gas.
Another incentive to opt for an oil to gas boiler conversion is the Con Edison rebate program that offers savings for homeowners, business customers, and even people who are renting homes.