Almost half of all U.S. homes rely on natural gas to fuel home heating systems. Gas heat offers both efficiency and value, making it an optimal choice for both the budget-minded and eco-conscious homeowner. If you're currently heating with oil or electricity, you may be concerned about the cost of switching to natural gas. While adding gas heating can come with significant upfront costs, it also comes with reduced operating costs and the potential for rebates and other financial incentives that can help make the transition easier on your wallet.
Adding A Gas Line
Before you can add gas heating, you have to get a natural gas line extended to your home. Prepare to spend between $60 and $100 per foot to have this line run from the municipal gas supply in the street into your home. That means that if you live in an urban area with a gas main located 10 feet away, you'll spend $600 to $1,000 for this gas access. If you live in a more rural area where the gas main is 100 feet away, you could spend $6,000 to $10,000. Of course, some utility companies will install this line for free to entice new customers, so always check with your utility provider to see what kind of deal they may offer.
Fixtures and Equipment
Once you have gas running into your home, you need a gas-fired appliance to transform this gas into heat. Plan to spend about $3,000 to purchase and install a 97 percent efficient gas furnace. Once the furnace is in place, you're ready to go -- as long as you have ductwork, that is. If you don't currently have central air or heat, figure another $3,500 to $4,000 to add ductwork to a typical 2,000 square foot house.
If you're happy with your central heating system, and would prefer a gas fireplace to a gas furnace, expect to spend $2,000 for the unit and another $2,500 for installation and finishing.
If the high cost of adding gas heat has got you down, take heart; many homeowners can recoup this investment within five years thanks to the lower operating costs associated with gas heat. You'll save 30 to 50 percent compared to oil heat, and roughly $1,698 per year compared to electric heat. That doesn't even include the potential savings associated with switching other appliances to gas now that you have your gas line in place. A gas water heater can save you $297 per year compared to an electric one, while gas ranges and dryers save $79 and $81 per year, respectively.
Rebates and Incentives
Financial rebates, tax credits and other financial incentives can further offset the cost of switching to gas. These incentives are offered by utility companies, as well as state, local and federal government agencies in an effort to encourage consumers to make energy-efficient choices. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency to find programs in your area.