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Oil boilers are typically used in areas such as the Northeast, where access to natural gas is limited. This trend could change, however, as a new generation of oil fired boilers, capable of burning a mixture of heating oil and biodiesel, becomes more popular. Whichever type of oil boiler you're thinking about installing, this buying guide will help you choose the right model and understand how much it will cost.
Oil Boiler Considerations
In order to choose the oil fired boiler that's right for your home, keep the following points in mind:
- Size: It's critical to choose a properly-sized residential oil boiler in order to maximize your energy efficiency and system performance. Boiler capacity is typically measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). Choose one with too much output and you'll not only waste energy, but risk damaging your boiler. Too little power, on the other hand, means that the system will run constantly on cold days while still not getting your home warm enough. A heating and cooling professional will help you determine the proper oil boiler size for your home.
- Efficiency: In addition to a size, each boiler has an energy efficiency rating, measured in what's known as annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). The higher the oil boiler efficiency, the more you'll be able to lower your home heating costs and reduce your carbon footprint. Federal law mandates that modern oil boilers be at least 80% efficient, while a high-efficiency oil boiler can have an AFUE rating as high as 97%.
Going Green with Oil Boilers
Many homeowners are surprised to learn that an oil boiler can be part of a green home heating system. The reasons why are explained below:
- Bioheat: Similar to the biodiesel that powers vehicles; so-called Bioheat contains a certain percentage of crop-based biofuel, which makes it cleaner-burning, partially renewable, and a contributor to U.S. jobs and energy independence.
- Radiant Heat: Radiant floor heating, one of the greenest heating systems available, is compatible with an oil boiler. Read more about it at the This Old House website.
- Indoor Air Quality: Going Green doesn't just mean improving the outside environment, it also means making your home environment as healthy as possible. A radiator heating system won't dry out your respiratory system and, because it doesn't blow air around, won't churn up dust and other allergens.
Oil Boiler Average Costs
The actual cost of an oil boiler depends on the size of the system, the unit's AFUE rating, your location, the difficulty of the installation, and other factors.
- Mid-efficiency oil boiler replacement cost should be $2,500 to $5,000 installed.
- Installing a high-efficiency oil boiler might cost $5,000 to $10,000 or more.
- If replacing an older, low-efficiency boiler with a newer, more efficient model, you may have to install a new chimney liner at a cost of $500 to $2,000.
- If you also need a new oil tank, recommended if yours is more than 20-25 years old, this might cost an additional $1,500 to $2,500, which includes professional disposal of the old unit. A real bargain, considering that cleaning up an oil leak could be catastrophically expensive.