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Fuel Switching and Equipment Efficiency Choices

If you are considering changing out your boiler or water heating equipment to change fuels for energy savings, APEX Thermal Services has provided a chart below to assist you in your decision.  APEX Thermal Services specializes in high-efficiency hydronic heating systems, including Boilers, Water Heaters, Radiant Heating Systems, Solar Hot Water Systems and Solar Pool Heating Systems.

Fuel switching is commonly used by larger institutions and commercial operations to contain their operating costs.  These larger entities commonly have multi-fuel burning equipment and capabilities.  This can be much more challenging for consumers, because our heating equipment selection typically decides what fuel we must burn for years to come.  Also, utility companies are notorious for purposely making it difficult for the general public to compare different forms of energy, because they may loose customers.  So we have provided some help. 

The following spreadsheet compares the cost of heating with Electricity, Propane (High and Standard Efficiency Equipment), Fuel Oil (High and Standard Efficiency Equipment), and Natural Gas (High and Standard Efficiency Equipment).  A $3,500 annual fuel cost baseline was inserted into the Fuel Oil Standard Efficiency Column (this is the most common heating equipment in the Hudson Valley).  Select your proposed fuel and/or efficiency category to see the savings or cost increase associated with that new equipment selection.

Sept. 2013 Energy Costs per BTU and Annual Costs after Heating Efficiency Factor  
Fuel Cost (Note) Units Btus per Unit Cost per Purchased MBTU Equipment Type Equipment Eff % Cost per Delivered MBTU with Equip. Efficiency Annual Fuel Cost
Nat Gas $18.40 MCF 1,030,000 $0.0179 High Eff. 96.00% $0.0186 $1,804.16
Nat Gas $18.40 MCF 1,030,000 $0.0179 Standard Eff. 86.00% $0.0208 $2,009.91
Fuel Oil $3.950 gal 140,000 $0.0282 High Eff. 86.00% $0.0328 $3,174.42
Fuel Oil $3.950 gal 140,000 $0.0282 Standard Eff. 78.00% $0.0362 $3,500.00 *
Propane $2.800 gal 91,690 $0.0305 High Eff. 96.00% $0.0318 $3,077.93
Propane $2.800 gal 91,690 $0.0305 Standard Eff. 86.00% $0.0355 $3,435.83
Electricity $0.193 kWh 3,413 $0.0565 High Eff. 100.00% $0.0565 $5,471.60
Note: Energy Cost per unit figures from the NYSERDA website, based on published data for Sept 2013  
* A baseline annual cost of $3,500 for Fuel Oil was used to show the financial results of fuel switching and equipment selection


Note that Electric Water Heating actually achieves 100% efficiency, but our costs for electricity still make it the most expensive form of water heating.

Note that Propane and Fuel Oil annual heating costs are actually rather close and fuel switching may not be warranted.  Who knows, in three years, propane costs may skyrocket?  If switching from Standard Efficiency Fuel Oil equipment to High Efficiency Fuel Oil or High Efficiency Propane equipment, annual fuel savings of roughly $300-$400 can be expected. 

Improving your doors, windows and insulation would likely provide similar or greater annual savings.  Improving your heat delivery method (for instance, installing a staple-up Radiant Heating System) would likely provide near double that savings, as the DOE estimates potential savings of 20% for installing Radiant Heating versus more common heating methods.

The electrical costs used in this chart were averaged from the Hudson Valley Region.  If you are a ConEd customer, your water heating costs are likely to be 25 to 50 percent higher than indicated on the chart.  Many of our customers in Westchester County, NY are ConEd customers with electric water heaters.  If that means you, consider fuel switching and/or having APEX Thermal Services install a Solar Thermal Water Heating System to provide you with some significant utility savings!  APEX Thermal Services maintains a Home Improvement Contractor License in Westchester County.