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Old 02-08-2013, 12:22   #1
Z71bill
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Why do so many people on the "east coast" use heating oil?

With the snow storm hitting the east coast - I hear a lot of talk about heating oil.

I have wondered before why so many homes in this area use heating oil rather than natural gas.

I assume at one point heating oil was cheaper (can't be now).

If I was building a new home - or doing a remodel - I would rather use natural gas - or maybe even electricity - for heat.

Having a BIG tank in your basement full of - what I assume is sort of like heavy diesel fuel - doesn't sound like a great idea.

Is natural gas available?

How do you heat your water?
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:29   #2
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If your off the beaten path, in the sticks there may be no NG gas lines installed. NG is popular here in Ohio, but I have friends in rural areas that heat with Oil.

Propane would be cheaper than oil, no?
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:32   #3
Bigpoppie50
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I don't use heating oil anymore, I have a big 1000gal propane tank in my back yard. It burns much cleaner than heating oil especially if you have a breathing condition such as asthma.
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:36   #4
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Originally Posted by vikingsoftpaw View Post
If your off the beaten path, in the sticks there may be no NG gas lines installed. NG is popular here in Ohio, but I have friends in rural areas that heat with Oil.

Propane would be cheaper than oil, no?
I grew up in South Dakota - a lot of people live out in the sticks - they use propane for heating (house and water).

BIG above ground tanks that looked like a giant hot dog.

Doesn't burning all of this heating oil make the whole neighborhood smell like a truck stop?
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:37   #5
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I remember as a kid visiting relatives out on Long Island who had oil heat. No matter what you did, houses that used oil always smelled like a diesel truck had idled all night in the basement. HH
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:39   #6
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I can't really answer your question, but a lot it probably has to do with "if it ain't broke don't fix it". Those homes were probably built with fuel oil furnaces and they still work and just haven't been replaced.

There was a time when it was readily available and cheap. It's also easier to handle and deliver than a compressed fuel like propane. There was also a time when environmental factors were not in the forethought. You also have to consider that not everyone has access to a piped utility. And even if they do now the infrastructure might not have existed when the development was built. Around here all fuels have to be transported in by truck. There is no ng. Sure you can consider electric heat, but check out the calculator below, and depending on your rate that can cost you more than fuel oil.

I previously lived in a house that had wood heat as primary and oil as a backup. That has since been switched to 100% propane.

You can't just compare flat across the board the price of fuels because different fuels have different BTU outputs.

If you're trying to understand or calculate the difference in costs of fuel types here is a great resource.

http://nepacrossroads.com/fuel-compa...calculator.php

It has some pre-filled figures in it, but adjust them to your local rates.
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:40   #7
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Infrastructure, climatic conditions and age of housing are some reasons.


Even in cities or towns they might not have any natural gas infrastructure built into the rat's nest beneath the streets. If a town has been around a few hundred years it might not be such a simple thing to put it in.

You'd also have to get enough people to switch to make it worth doing. Or you'd have to get new construction to sign on to make it worthwhile. Not every town is going through a construction boom, has the money to switch or have enough homeowners with enough cash to pay for a change to a new fuel source.

An electric heat pump system can have a hard time keeping up with the heating demand of the house.

The further North you go, the more likely you'll see oil or some other fuel source, especially the older the houses are.

There are places in the NE where you have to wait certain times of the year to have someone buried. Weird huh?
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Old 02-08-2013, 13:05   #8
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I have oil but burn mostly wood.
We home school, so we are most of the time at home and it is not a problem to through more wood on.
I prefer oil for these reasons:
1. I fear gas for the fact it could blow up the house.
I know the chance is low, but there is a chance!
2. You can run an oil tank dry. A gas tank needs to be filled at a certain level.
3. If you ran an oil tank dry, you can just run to the station and fill it with canisters.
This will save you these "emergency" fill up fees.
4. A few winters ago automotive diesel was cheaper then heating oil!
With gas you are stuck with that company you got the tank from.
I pay cash and don't "lock" myself into these contract. But then I don't buy more then 500 gal a year.
5. With gas you don't own the tank and it is somewhere above the ground outside. That is a danger IMHO and even more an eye sore.
On top, everything on my property is paid and I own it.
Only the power company can come and check their meter. That upsets me already!
I checked and they will not sell me a meter.
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Old 02-08-2013, 13:07   #9
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Many/most of the older houses had/have oil and kerosene furnaces.
Was probably cheapest back in the day.

Many areas don't have natural gas but Propane is becoming popular as well as pellet stoves. Even geothermal.

Home heating(oil/kerosene) is the second biggest use of oil in this country.
Would be good to see those homes go to Natural gas, propane, pellet stoves or geothermal.
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Old 02-08-2013, 13:11   #10
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In northeast, there are pently of woods to use for heating. I guess they are too lazy to cut down and chop it apart.
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Old 02-08-2013, 13:13   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glock30Eric View Post
In northeast, there are pently of woods to use for heating. I guess they are too lazy to cut down and chop it apart.
Many folks do.
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Old 02-08-2013, 13:15   #12
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Why do so many people on the "east coast" use heating oil?

We had a oil furnace installed in our house, in 1996, because the ******************** heat pump was a POS and the compressor went bad.

My wife said, "I'm tired of being cold in the winter! Get SOMETHING that will keep this house warm."

So, I tried to get a quote for a propane furnace. (My neighborhood does not have a natural gas line.)

The oil furnace salesman gave a price that I could live with, so, I bought it and a new central A/C unit.

Verrrrrrrrrrry happy with this "Thermo-Pride" oil furnace.
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Old 02-08-2013, 13:19   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HKLovingIT View Post
...
There are places in the NE where you have to wait certain times of the year to have someone buried. Weird huh?
back-hoe or tie a 400lb concrete block to the person and toss em into the Hudson or off the atlantic.

Wait, you meant REAL funerals? Fuggedabodit.
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Old 02-08-2013, 13:23   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcDW View Post
I have oil but burn mostly wood.
We home school, so we are most of the time at home and it is not a problem to through more wood on.
I prefer oil for these reasons:
1. I fear gas for the fact it could blow up the house.
I know the chance is low, but there is a chance!
2. You can run an oil tank dry. A gas tank needs to be filled at a certain level.
3. If you ran an oil tank dry, you can just run to the station and fill it with canisters.
This will save you these "emergency" fill up fees.
4. A few winters ago automotive diesel was cheaper then heating oil!
With gas you are stuck with that company you got the tank from.
I pay cash and don't "lock" myself into these contract. But then I don't buy more then 500 gal a year.
5. With gas you don't own the tank and it is somewhere above the ground outside. That is a danger IMHO and even more an eye sore.
On top, everything on my property is paid and I own it.
Only the power company can come and check their meter. That upsets me already!
I checked and they will not sell me a meter.
Correct.

I chose oil. Could have put in anything, except not natural gas. Propane is expensive like oil, but it is also an explosion hazzard.

With an efficient furnace, there is no oil smell. The tank is inside but vents outside. Maybe a whiff outside if standing right next to the vent but that's it.

My hot water is also heated by the same oil furnace. Have a woodstove that I can either use as back-up or run all the time and heat the whole house all winter. Have a generator for back-up also.

If I buy wood (already cut and split and delivered by the full cord), the heating cost for my house is the same as oil. I calculated that usage over several years.

The complaints about heating costs are more from people who have poorly insulated houses and they haven't planned for winter fuel. No matter what they heat with, it is going to cost a bundle unless they are cutting their own wood.

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Old 02-08-2013, 13:27   #15
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It really comes down to the cost of converting over to NG. I had a house in Minneapolis that was built in 1928, and it had fuel oil heat. The only reason we converted to NG was the old fuel oil boiler died on us. It was cheaper to put in a NG furnace than to put in a fuel oil burner.

The stove and water heaters were already NG, but the old burner was working, so why spend the money?
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Old 02-08-2013, 13:28   #16
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Gas is very hit and miss as well.

Here in Columbus some areas have gas and some don't. It isn't even just sides of town or something like that. I mean on neighborhood might have it and in the next neighborhood down the street won't.

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Old 02-08-2013, 13:30   #17
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When I lived on LI (NY), I used oil heat 'cuz I lived out in the woods, and the gas co. wanted two arms and two legs to bring gas into my location.

Oil was competitive with gas then, perhaps slightly more expensive. I would have rigged up a dual fuel rig if I could have gotten gas in.

The storm caused me to review fuel oil prices on LI .... $4.00/gal. ...

I used to have a 1000 gallon tank and fill it twice a year ...
Once in February, with snow on the ground, & a fuel truck had to be able to get up the snowy hill to my place ...

I don't miss all that ...

...But oil has one feature over gas .... no gas explosions ! ...

.
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Old 02-08-2013, 13:33   #18
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We skipped the "heating oil era" around here for the most part. Went from wood to electric. They finally got natural gas in 80 miles away and not much hope it will get here. They also had quite a number of oil furnaces but they are a port city and it was easier for them.

Our brilliant liberal politicians have outlawed new wood stoves "It's for the environment" and are encouraging the use of pellet stoves. Which means you have to buy pellets, made o fsawdust (wood) that use energy to make and are glued together with paraffin, a petroleum product, rather than dropping a tree on your own property and splitting it. A "One size fits all" answer that probably makes sense in the largest city in the State but not so much around here.
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Old 02-08-2013, 13:40   #19
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How 'bout the good old days when everybody used coal to heat the house?
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Old 02-08-2013, 13:41   #20
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Originally Posted by Glock30Eric View Post
In northeast, there are pently of woods to use for heating. I guess they are too lazy to cut down and chop it apart.
Who owns all the woods? Would they let anyone cut on their land? Wouldn't all those lazy people in the cities have to buy saws and either trucks or trailers to haul all the wood they cut? Where would they store a few winter's worth of wood? Do you know how long it takes to properly cure wood for home heating? (hint: more than a few months)

How long do you think the forests would last if all the city dwellers went out and cut them for firewood?
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Old 02-08-2013, 13:44   #21
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Everything here is Natural gas in town and propane in the country.

I've seen a couple posts in this thread questioning the safety of having above ground tanks for propane and can't for the life of me understand how it's any more of a potential hazard than a tank full of heating oil. I've never heard of anyone around here having their tank blow up.
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Old 02-08-2013, 13:46   #22
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With the snow storm hitting the east coast - I hear a lot of talk about heating oil.

I have wondered before why so many homes in this area use heating oil rather than natural gas.

I assume at one point heating oil was cheaper (can't be now).

If I was building a new home - or doing a remodel - I would rather use natural gas - or maybe even electricity - for heat.

Having a BIG tank in your basement full of - what I assume is sort of like heavy diesel fuel - doesn't sound like a great idea.

Is natural gas available?

How do you heat your water?
I had a "expert" out to get me some parts for home heating oil burner. He gave the crap about "a bomb in your basement/ smell/etc" Thing is you can't smell the dsl smell EXCEPT when fueling if they spill. Run eden pure 20 min (after you clean up spill) and its gone.
This expert then tried to electrucute himself. I warned him twice, he did it anyway. How often do you hear about house blowing up because of fuel oil leak? I can't recall a single one. LP and NG there are half dozen in my area a YEAR. (true some are less serious/don't blow house off foundation. Others do.
I keep getting tempted to put in 2nd fuel tank in my basement. But my cousin is fuel man so really does not make sense.
I know this furnace. I rebuilt it. I don't trust LP furnaces. I work on a few couple times a yr. They always fail (normally for safetys getting false reading, flame sensor broke.....)
BTW I am in the market for half ton of coal. I do have to wonder about the smell thing. NObody has ever said they smell fuel oil in house/even in basement. (except wife when she smells my gloves when I fill tank) Do you have a leak?

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Old 02-08-2013, 13:47   #23
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Oil was cheap at one time and a system with the old cast iron radiators still produces the best heat.

Now a lot of people are converting to gas if it is offered.

Oil does not smell much; less than gas actually.
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Old 02-08-2013, 13:50   #24
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Originally Posted by Glock30Eric View Post
In northeast, there are pently of woods to use for heating. I guess they are too lazy to cut down and chop it apart.
I've got my own woods. Occassionally cut some, but much prefer to pay some local guy to do all the work from his own source and deliver to me by the dump truck load. Then pay some neighbor kid to stack it

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Old 02-08-2013, 13:52   #25
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My parents' and grandparents' houses had it originally, with baseboard heat via hot water pipes. Later they converted the furnace to gas. Now the house I live in has the same system (which was converted to gas before we purchased it). Both houses were built in the 1950s. I know it isn't the most energy efficient way to heat a house, but it sure feels good and works quickly when you first turn it on (or up). The boiler also doubles as our hot water heater. It's also not as drying as circulated air driven heat, so the humidity level stays more normal.
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