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Converting Your Home from Oil to Gas Heat: An Interview with Roland Violette, Jr. of Preferred Energy Group

By Roland Violette, Jr.

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Violette Mechanical was originally started in 1991 in East Windsor, Connecticut. We then expanded into a full-service oil delivery and service company in 1996 as Ellington Oil Company and into a full-service propane delivery and service company in 2008 as Preferred Propane. All three companies are together with the office location at 64 Windsor Avenue, Vernon, Connecticut 06066. We also own a 120,000 gallon propane storage facility in Vernon as well and plan to expand soon to 180,000 gallon capacity.

We offer automatic and will-call delivery of home heating oil and propane, as well as complete heating and air conditioning sales and service. Our service technicians install propane tanks for residential, commercial and agricultural customers. They are trained and licensed to service all gas appliances. We also have experienced technicians for oil burner, gas burner and air conditioning service. We are a Mitsubishi "Diamond Contractor" which adds two additional years of product warranty to our customers.v Preferred Energy Group has developed as a one-call source for all heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and fuel service needs, including any size propane tank installation with the option of renting or ownership for both residential and commercial customers. We strive hard to make sure we keep up with the latest in technology while maintaining hometown qualities and personal service.

What are the most common reasons why people in Connecticut decide to switch their house from oil to gas heat?

Typically cost. Both propane and natural gas cost less per btu than oil. Because either gas product can be more utilized (up to 99% efficiency) you are getting almost all that you paid for where with oil most equipment is in the low to mid 80% efficiency range. Gas products do not require as much service as oil equipment due to the fact gas burns cleaner and does not typically make soot.

What's the first thing that homeowners should know about converting from oil to gas or propane heat?

They need to realize a propane tank goes outside either above or below ground and not in their basement. 120 gallon tanks can be grouped and placed next to the home while larger tanks need to be at least 10 feet from the house.

Can you briefly describe the main differences between heating with oil, gas and propane?

Heating oil is a liquid fuel that is pumped from an oil delivery truck into your home's oil storage tank, which is typically in your basement but can be underground or on the side of a home. Natural gas is piped in from an underground network of piping from a utility company and is piped into a gas meter so the utility company can charge for the gas you utilize in your home. Propane is also a liquid fuel like oil and delivered in a similar manner, but is stored in a tank outside your home that is designed to allow the gas to be pressurized like natural gas. This means no pumps are needed as in an oil system and is why it is also good for appliances such as a cooking stove, fireplace log, clothes dryer, water heater, and can even be tied to your outdoor grill so you do not have to change propane tanks while barbecuing.

What are the basic steps in the process of converting your home from oil to gas heat? How long does the process typically take?

Set up an evaluation appointment to speak with a licensed contractor to determine the best type of system for the home. If using natural gas, the gas company needs to be contacted to see if service is available and if not than propane would be the choice. Pull a permit with the town and then the work can be done. Depending on your system, the conversion can take from four hours to a full day.

Is there anything that residents have to get used to once they've made the switch from oil to gas or propane?

With a hot water, or "boiler" system, the only difference seen may be less noise as gas burners are fairly quiet. When converting from an oil fired furnace to a propane or natural gas furnace the benefit will also be less noise, but more importantly a much more comfortable and less "drafty" feeling in their home as the temperature of the air is lower, which allows longer run times for a more comfortable system.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

Call us at 860-870-WARM (9276). Our business hours are M-F 8 AM to 5 PM and Saturday by appointment. We have 24-hour emergency service for our customers.

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