When Delaware’s former Governor Jack Markell said he wanted to see more residents and small businesses using natural gas, he cited two reasons: boosting the economy and protecting the environment. Fast-forward three winter seasons and those big-picture reasons are a reality for an asthmatic 63-year-old Luella Allen who can now breathe more easily and pay her heating bills thanks to a switch to natural gas.
Allen’s 30-year-old oil boiler took its last gasp three years ago on a freezing February day. She couldn’t afford a replacement system, and natural gas wasn’t available on her street. She then turned to electric space heaters to keep her family warm in their single-story, three-bedroom ranch.
“But the house was still cold,” said Allen. “There were some frigid February nights.”
In fall 2014 Delmarva Power’s My Switch to Gas program—the result of Gov. Markell’s vision—identified Allen’s street as a prime location for bringing affordable natural gas to the Garfield Park community in New Castle.
“The cost for replacing our boiler was outrageous, and oil prices went so high that we were only getting a quarter of a tank at a time before the boiler had died,” Allen said. “I tell you the Lord was looking out for us when they said gas was coming.”
I tell you the Lord was looking out for us when they said gas was coming.
Allen learned that she qualified for a low-interest loan which would pay for the new gas furnace and hot water heater. She crunched the numbers, and figured the money saved on her heating bills would help her pay off the loan over time.
“I was thinking it (the natural gas conversion) was going to be astronomical. I really did, but it’s not. It’s perfect,” said Allen.
The family’s natural gas bills are averaging about $100 a month in the winter; they paid more than twice that when heating with oil. “We can even eat out a little bit now,” she said, chuckling.