Local heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals are preparing for an increased number of calls from homeowners and businesses looking to learn more about hooking up to natural gas. To help prevent a rush for services, contractors are asking people to call now to plan ahead.
EPCOR is asking that community members in Lurgan Beach, Point Clark, and Chesley sign up for natural gas service before March 1 at epcor.com/southernbruce. Residents of Ripley and Paisley have until April 1, while Lucknow locals have up to May 1. Once the required forms are completed by the deadline date, the property will be on the list to receive natural gas service this year.
EPCOR gas technicians will visit the property to assess the pathway and size of gas line needed from the street to the property, measure the distance from the property line to the proposed meter location, take pictures for construction and installation records, and mark where the new meter will be placed.
After customers sign up for natural gas with EPCOR, the next step in the process is reaching out to a certified HVAC professional for preliminary conversations about converting existing fuel supply and appliance needs. These professionals can also help customers with the initial sign-up process, including providing support to fill out the required meter forms before the deadline date.
“We recommend that customers call as soon as they can to schedule quotes for upcoming work. Our industry has been seeing long delays in certain equipment and conversion parts, so it’s best to be proactive and order in advance,” said Honey Montgomery with Montgomery’s Comfort Centre, one of EPCOR’s preferred HVAC providers. “We regularly service all of these areas and have been since 1992.”
HVAC contractors will do an initial home assessment to discuss the scope of the project, gathering enough information to provide a quote. The cost to convert a typical home using propane to natural gas could be $1,000 on average, but if a home only needs to replace an orifice/conversion kit the cost can be as little as $300.
While typical conversion costs can vary depending on the current heating source, anticipated annual savings from natural gas are estimated to take an average of 2.5 years for customers to pay back the initial investment. Payback on conversion from a propane source would take less time. EPCOR has a Savings Calculator that uses current energy consumption and heating sources and compares costs with natural gas fired equipment and appliances.
Most natural gas companies charge to hook up to the system, but with EPCOR, customers eligible for natural gas service in 2021 will receive their connection for free, provided the meter location on their property is within 30 metres from the property line and they will ultimately start using natural gas within a year of connection.
HVAC contractors can complete larger projects, such as replacing a furnace or boiler, in a day. For simple conversions, it can take less than two hours per appliance hook up, provided there are no gas piping changes. An HVAC contractor will connect the natural gas supply to a flexible, stainless steel pipe that runs to individual appliances. Coated with a yellow exterior plastic coating, piping is typically routed beneath, through and alongside basement floor joists, inside interior wall cavities and on top of ceiling joists in attic spaces.
Customers are advised that work should be done by accredited contractors with appropriate insurance requirements. Once the work is complete, and natural gas is ready to be turned on, contractors arrange to meet EPCOR onsite to finalize the connection.
Given the economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, customers can delay conversion costs, appliance purchases and connecting to the natural gas supply for up to one year, as long as they are signed up for the service.
EPCOR will install the gas line outside a customer’s property as it builds the distribution system neighbourhood by neighbourhood; and customers have up to a year from the time their property is connected to the distribution system to arrange for conversion of pipes in the home and to convert or replace any appliances they want to run on natural gas. Since this last step of converting to natural gas within your home can be done very quickly, customers don’t need to worry about converting in the fall or winter and not having heat for their home. This process can take as little time as a day to complete.
“Residents should review their existing heating provider contract for their current fuel supply to provide suitable notice of disconnection to their service within the terms of each agreement. They are also asked to not disconnect the current fuel source or move any equipment until after natural gas service has been installed and the appointment for meter activation has been booked,” said Susannah Robinson, EPCOR’s Vice President, Ontario Region