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As more Yorkers convert to natural gas, heating oil prices drop

Single mother Carrie Moul moved into her Spring Garden Township home with her 7-year-old son about 2-1/2 years ago and almost immediately noticed problems with her boiler, which ran exclusively on heating oil.

Taking up about half of her basement, the “clunky” boiler was supplemented by a nearby water heater, she said.

“I thought it was ridiculous that I was paying so much for oil and hot water,” Moul said.

Around Christmas last year, Moul ran out of her prepaid heating oil supply, and she’d had enough, contacting her provider, Shipley Energy, to convert to a natural gas furnace.

Conversions: Moul is now part of the majority of York County residents who heat their homes using natural gas, according to Nathan Hummel, Shipley’s general manager of home services. Shipley performs about two conversions each month, a rate that is probably slightly decreased from years past. That trend has decreased local demand for heating oil and, thus, driven down prices for the coming winter season, Hummel said.

Related: Maine heating prices nose up slightly as cool months begin

Prices for natural gas are also still lower, Hummel said, and that product offers more benefits, including having less equipment and infrastructure, being better for the environment and only paying for what is consumed.

Savings: Moul, who had to have an entirely new system installed, said the switch has saved her about $110 per month, with an expected break-even point of about four years. The switch has also given her more space in her basement, she said.

Not all conversions require all new equipment, Hummel said, as some boilers just require a burner change, depending on manufacturer specifications. Those conversions only cost about $2,000, while new system installation will run a couple thousand dollars more, he said. Savings vary based on factors including usage, home size and insulation, but Hummel said if natural gas is readily available, he’d recommend making the switch.

Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, one of York’s main natural gas providers, is making it easier to convert for those without a readily available pipeline, according to spokesman Russ Bedell. Columbia offers a free economic analysis for those interested in converting and will connect a customer’s home to a service line for free if available, he said.

Columbia is also in the midst of a four-year pilot program, which the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission approved last year, that allows customers to pay a monthly charge over a 20-year period to bring the necessary infrastructure to their area.

(c)2015 The York Dispatch (York, Pa.)

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This article was written by David Weissman from The York Dispatch, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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