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Converting from oil to electric heat? Do it with a heat pump.

Switching is one of the best decisions you can make—for your home and the planet.

Switching is one of the best decisions you can make—for your home and the planet.

Are you still using heating oil in your home? While everyone wants to feel warm and toasty in the winter, there are some real downsides to using oil to heat your home on cold days. 

You already know firsthand that heating oil is pricey and prices often fluctuate, but burning fossil fuels in your home isn’t healthy for the planet—or your family either. 

If you’re ready to switch from oil to electric heat, converting from an oil furnace to an electric heat pump is one of best, most efficient ways to switch to clean energy and cut your energy use.

And depending on where you live, with Sealed you can convert from oil heat to an electric air-source heat pump for no upfront cost.

In this article, you’ll learn:

Why make the switch from oil to electric heat?

Good question. We’ll give you three big reasons below.

Reason #1: Your home will be more comfortable.

When you switch to electric heat with an air source heat pump, your house will have a consistently even temperature throughout your home. (There’s no furnace kicking off and on all day and night in the winter—just consistent, warm temps and no annoying noises.)

Reason #2: Your home’s air quality will improve.

We’ll talk more about air quality benefits of electric heat later in this article, but overall, your home’s air will be healthier when you make the switch to an electric heat pump. (No more burning of fossil fuels in your existing home furnace!)

And heat pumps automatically filter the air, reducing the amount of allergens in your home. Say goodbye to those dusty, funky furnace smells.

Reason #3: Electric heat is better for the planet.

You might think your home isn’t burning through too much fuel on its own, but home heating oil contributes quite a bit to fossil fuel consumption in the U.S.

In fact, the majority of homes that use heating oil are located in the Northeast, and it’s estimated that about 2.9 billion gallons of heating oil—about 86% of the total U.S. residential heating oil sales—were used in 2019 in the Northeast alone (1). 

Yes, that’s billions of gallons used in just one region of the country.

As climate change concerns continue to rise, many homeowners are looking to make the transition to clean energy solutions—or even transforming their house into a net-zero home (a house that generates the amount of energy it consumes) (2).

And those looking to purchase homes are seeking energy-efficient housing. So making the switch can make your home more marketable to future buyers, too.

Still wondering if switching from oil heat to an electric heat pump is for you?

Whether your goal is to convert from using outdated fossil-fuel heat or simply to have a more comfortable home, installing an electric heat pump is one of the best home upgrades you can make.

Let’s dig into some numbers for the oil heater vs. electric heater debate. Many folks think converting will make heating their home more expensive, but let’s take a closer look.

Read Why is heating oil so expensive? for a deeper dive.

Oil heater vs. electric heater: Is clean energy really a better way to heat your home?

Many homeowners who are considering making the switch to electric heat often assume their home heating costs will increase after converting from heating oil.

Why is that?

Oil and natural gas providers often say that heating your home with electricity will be more expensive. And it can be if you’re using an inefficient heating system, such as an electric furnace or floorboard heat.

Overall, though, heating oil is a less efficient and more expensive source of energy.

Your costs for heating oil or electricity per kilowatt hour (kwh) will vary based on your state and your home’s square footage, but let’s look at the state of Massachusetts for a quick example.

Residents in Massachusetts can estimate paying the following per unit for oil vs. electricity in 2021 (3):

  • Heating oil: $3.27 per gallon 
  • Electric heat: $0.26 cents per kWh

For an average-sized home in Massachusetts, that makes heating oil $1397 more expensive in the winter season than homes that are heated with electricity.* 

And you know what’s just as important as the fuel you use to heat your home? How well your heating system uses it.

In addition to electricity generally being the cheaper (and cleaner) fuel choice, electric air-source heat pumps are the most energy-efficient HVAC option for the majority of homeowners. Heat pumps use as little as ⅓ the energy of traditional HVAC systems (4).

Factor in that oil prices fluctuate widely based on global availability and geopolitical issues, and warming your home via electricity is not only the more sustainable choice, but also one that’s more reliable. 

In fact, the U.S. is behind in adopting this top-of-the-line HVAC tech. Heat pumps have been used in Europe and Asia to heat and cool homes for decades (5).

When you switch from oil heat to a highly-efficient electric heat pump, you’ll stop wasting energy as much and lower your overall energy use—all while getting closer to your clean energy or net zero home goals.

But at the end of the day… your home will just feel better overall, and your indoor air quality will get a nice boost, too.

81% have seen their home’s comfort improve by replacing fossil fuel heaters with heat pumps.

Coolproducts 2022 European Customer Analysis

The benefits to converting your oil furnace to an electric heat pump

Electric air-source heat pumps are amazing and make your home feel incredible, and that’s why we like to call heat pumps the Tesla of HVAC.

But they’re not just the best HVAC technology for your home, they also have some seriously enjoyable benefits.

Here’s a quick list of some of the pros of converting from oil furnace to an electric heat pump:

  1. You’ll get more even, consistent heat throughout your home. Heat pumps don’t kick on and off. They circulate heated air throughout your home continuously.
  2. You’ll enjoy precise, room-by-room temperature control. Heat pumps allow you to create temperature zones in your house, something that you can get even more precise with when using a mini-split heat pump system.
  3. No more “burning furnace” or “burning heater” smells. And there’s no risk of explosion with heat pumps, either. (That’s always a win.)
  4. You’ll have an HVAC system that runs on clean energy. One that gets you closer to your energy-efficient—and even net zero—home ownership goals!
  5. Your home’s air will be healthier. Heat pumps automatically filter the air for dust and allergens. Plus they don’t produce a “dry heat” that can cause sinus and respiratory issues like furnaces do. And there’s no carbon monoxide risk from the process of burning fuels because—well—heat pumps don’t burn any fossil fuels.
  6. You can heat and cool your house with one appliance. Heat pumps don’t just work to heat your home, they also cool it in summer. It’s a heating system and air conditioner (plus air filter and dehumidifier!)—all in one.
  7. Air-source heat pumps can be installed in any home. In fact, you don’t even need existing ductwork to install a heat pump system. Check out How ductless mini splits work to learn more, and read How to camouflage a mini split to get ideas for incorporating them into decor.
  8. You no longer have to shop around for the best heating oil prices. Eliminate this chore for good when you switch to an electric heat pump!
  9. You’ll reduce your energy use. And this is the big winner, obviously.

Need more heating system info? Check out our heat pump vs furnace and heat pump vs boiler guides.

Today’s heat pumps can reduce up to 50% of your energy use for heating.

Energy.gov

Common heat pump myths

If you’ve been a faithful heating oil customer for years, you might have some concerns about switching over to new heat pump technology. Here, we’ll debunk the top 4 myths about converting from an oil furnace to an electric heat pump.

Myth #1: Heat pumps stop working on really cold days. 

In the 1980s, heat pump technology struggled when temperatures dropped below freezing. But the electric air-source heat pumps of today are ready to take on the coldest of winter nights. 

If your house is properly insulated and professionally air sealed, heat pumps can continue heating your home in temperatures well below -13 degrees. 

Myth #2: You have to use a heat pump with oil backup.

Here’s the big heat pump vs oil heating question: Do you need a backup heating system with a heat pump? While some homeowners buy into the myth that you need secondary heating that runs on oil (also called a dual-fuel system), in the majority of homes, you don’t—especially with today’s modern day heat pump systems.

Cold-climate heat pumps are brilliant at finding heat in the atmosphere (even in below zero temps!) and transferring it into your house to keep you warm in winter. Learn more about how heat pumps work in freezing cold here.

Also, you can give Sealed a call and we can help you understand if your house can fly solo with a heat pump alone. (Most homes can! Heat pumps have been tested in freezing Minnesota winters and are popular in Switzerland and Maine—all places that deal with serious winter weather.)

Myth #3: Using electricity to heat a house is more expensive than using fossil fuels.

This is definitely false—as long as you’re using the right technology!

This myth got started because electric furnaces can sometimes be more expensive to run in the winter than natural gas heaters. But electric furnaces aren’t the most energy-efficient way to heat your home—electric heat pumps are. 

Heat pumps are more efficient than the other options because they don’t need to burn fossil fuels or electricity to create hot air. Instead, they simply take heat from outside your home and move it inside to keep you warm and comfortable. (Yes, there’s heat in the atmosphere outside in winter! Learn more about how heat pumps work.)

In short: An electric heat pump will use your heating budget far more efficiently than an electric furnace, oil furnace, or natural gas heater.

Myth #4: Heat pumps are too expensive. 

Heat pumps can be more expensive than a new furnace or air conditioner, but that’s because they are two appliances in one. Heat pumps work to heat your home in winter and cool your home in summer, so when you convert from oil heat to an electric heat pump, you’re also getting a brand-new energy-efficient air conditioner.

And depending on where you live, you can convert from oil to electric heat for no upfront cost with Sealed.

How much does it cost to convert oil heat to electricity?

The truth: Converting from oil to an electric heat pump can be a big upfront expense. The best way to know how much it will cost you (every home is different!) is to get a professional estimate.

A new heat pump system alone can run from $2,200 to $14,000 or more for the equipment alone. And depending on the square footage of your home, professional installation costs in your area, local permits, and size and type of air-source heat pump needed for your home, these numbers could be a little higher. (This is the one con we’ve found to heat pumps, and why more people may not make the switch.)

When converting from oil heat to electric, you may also need to do electrical upgrade work in your home, which can be an additional cost. 

But don’t panic! We have some great news: If your home qualifies, you can convert from oil to electric heat—and get an energy-efficient heat pump, too—for ZERO upfront cost with Sealed. 

Many homeowners also qualify for heat pump tax credits and rebates under the Inflation Reduction Act legislation, too. Your utility provider may also have some current rebates and incentives that meet or exceed the rebates in the new legislation.

(If you work with Sealed, we make it hassle-free, and we help figure out what incentives you can apply to your project.)

How difficult is it to convert from oil heat to a heat pump?

For most homeowners who use oil heat, getting an electric air-source heat pump professionally installed is pretty straightforward, and it can be integrated into the existing electrical framework of your home. 

Certified professionals carefully disconnect and remove your old oil-burning furnace and replace it on the same day. A new heat pump can be connected into your home’s existing ductwork too.

Converting from oil heat to an electric heat pump is not a large renovation that requires weeks of work. And it’s a switch that makes your home more comfortable and healthier—all while being better for the planet.

Converting from oil to electric heat is easy with Sealed

Depending on where you live, you may be able to switch from oil heat to electric with Sealed at no upfront cost.

We manage the project, hire local experts, negotiate pricing, get the work done, and make sure it saves you energy, too. We stand by our work: You only pay us back for the work done at a rate based on how much you’ve saved on your energy bills.

That way, you’ve still got money in the bank and the home upgrades you want and need. It’s the best of both worlds—and you get to leave the hassle behind.

Take this two-minute quiz to see if your house qualifies.




Endnotes:


*The State of Massachusetts reports the estimated average consumption of heating oil over the winter is approximately 717 gallons, or about $2,344 total. For electric heat specifically, homeowners are estimated to use about 3644 kWh over the winter, or an estimated total of about $947, not including electricity costs used for home lighting, appliances, and electronics. (4).

January 4, 2022