As Oil Costs Bubble, Alternative Heating Gets Hot

With home heating oil prices rising, natural gas looks like a better deal
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser User
Posted Aug 13, 2008 9:35 AM CDT
Tim Weeks makes a home heating oil delivery in Portland, Maine. Heating oil prices continue to rise.   (AP Photo/Joel Page)
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(Newser) – 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.