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Which Heating Fuel Should You Switch to When No. 6 Oil is Phased Out?

Jennifer V. Hughes in Board Operations on April 16, 2013

1150 Park Avenue, Oakland Gardens (co-op), Carnegie Hill

April 16, 2013

Storr adds that the co-op tapped into its reserves and spent about $280,000 to retrofit the building to burn gas and another $200,000 to go from No. 6 to No. 2 oil. Con Ed, he says, has not yet done the street-level work needed to service the building.

"The point was to have gas service and use No. 2 as a backup," Storr says, noting that the building's heating costs have skyrocketed now that it's relying on costlier No. 2 oil. "We were burning about $90,000 to $120,000 worth of No. 6 oil per year," he says, "but when we switched to No. 2 oil, our overall cost is up to about $180,000."

It's a Gas, Gas, Gas

Oakland Gardens, a three-building co-op in the same-name neighborhood in Queens, went straight from oil to gas. The co-op needed to install new boiler / burners in two of the buildings because the systems were antiquated. (One building had already made the switch.) They chose to switch to dual-fuel, knowing that No. 6 was on the way out. The entire project took more than a year to complete, up to the final gas hookup. The cost was $600,000, which was paid for with a combination of reserves and an assessment.

Steven Miller, president of the board, says the board expects a return on investment in about four years.

"We knew the deadline was coming up to get rid of No. 6, and we looked at switching to No. 2 or No. 4, but the equipment in two of our buildings was so old we figured that it would make more sense to convert to something other than oil," says Miller, who adds that, since No. 4 oil will be banned by 2030, "we figured there was no reason to go halfway."

Another fuel oil option is low-sulfur biodiesel, which has the same energy content as No. 2 oil and is a blend of No. 2 oil and recycled, purified waste vegetable oil. A B20 biodiesel has 20 percent vegetable oil; a B100 is 100 percent. (Local Law 43 of 2010 mandated that all heating oil sold in New York contain at least two percent biodiesel, beginning Oct. 1, 2012.)

Systems that currently burn No. 2 oil can switch to biodiesel without any modifications, but going from No. 6 to biodiesel requires retrofits similar to those from No. 6 to No. 2. Dehran Duckworth, managing member of Tri-State Biodiesel, estimates the cost can range from about $10,000 to $20,000. Biodiesel prices are slightly cheaper than No. 2 oil prices.


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