Northeasterners expecting the price of heating oil to hit $4.35 a gallon are creating an avalanche of new business for heating and cooling contractors as they increasingly look to convert from oil heat to natural gas, reports the Wall Street Journal. A conversion to natural gas heat can cost up to $8,000, but can pay for itself in 4 to 6 years—and contractors are reporting months-long backlogs.
Heating oil prices have risen 73% in the past 2 years, and though natural gas prices are expected to increase, it still costs only roughly half as much as oil. "It has become a huge part of our business over the last three months. ... We've been inundated," says one Jersey contractor, who did one conversion last year but estimates three or four a day this fall.