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If your main idea is to save money because of expected rises in oil prices vis a vis gas prices, I would say you would be better off installing a gas fireplace for the purpose of having a back-up heating system in case the electricity goes out during a storm (assuming you can find a gas fireplace that doesn't require elec.).
People tend to panic when there is an oil price scare, but over the years, oil pretty well evens out with natural gas prices.
How old is the oil burner??? and what is its output in btu/hr???
Most gas fireplaces put out about 25k btu/hr or less, which would heat probably 2 or 3 rooms (unevenly) if your boiler's output is an average 60k to 75k btu/hr, but could easily be over 100k, that's only heat for 1/3 of the house.
If the boiler is old, it may be a good idea to think about converting to a new gas boiler.
Have you talked to your local oil dealer provider??? They are licensed to install gas-fired equipment, as well & can advise you which is the best way to go.
You would first have to check the nameplate on the boiler to see what is the btu output; then do a heat loss calculation (sample one below, or Google "heat loss calculator).
The HLC below does one room; you would have to do ALL the rooms in your home & total them all up.
Do you have baseboard convectors, or cast iron radiators???
Another way to determine how much total heat your house needs is to add up the total footage of all the existing baseboard and multiply by 550 (ex: 125' of total baseboard X 550 = 68,750 btu/hr needed to heat your house).
Is there adequate insulation in the esxterior walls and attic???---you should tackle this issue before spending money on heating equipment.
Measuring the baseboard is not the proper way to size a heating system. A heat loss is.
If you want to estimate your heat loss you could use the below as an estimate but you should have a heat loss done. This is based from doing thousands of heat losses over 20 years and it's pretty accurate. It's based off a 0 degree climate as the coldest day and a room setpoint of 70. The formula Dobbs is giving you is based of a flow rate of 1gpm through baseboard. 1gpm = 10,000 btu's in a standard system. He's not giving the heat loss but what the baseboard can emmitt at that flow rate with 180 degree water (water temp is another subject). What it can emmitt has nothing to do with the heat loss of the home.
Single Pane Windows no or limited insulation 40 btu's sqft
Good Windows R-11 Walls 32 Btu's sqft
Triple Panel Windows R-19 Walls 25 btu's sqft
New construction 20 btu's sqft
Gas fireplaces are about 80% or less efficient. Great for the ambiance or as a last resort but wouldn't be using it as a heating source. Put your pennies away and look at installing a gas boiler that is 85% efficiency or more.
Boiler standards change in 2012 so if your going to invest make sure you invest in something that is going to be around. No more standing pilot boilers after Sept 2012 so look at electronic ignition.
I agree with the excellent points that Dobbs lists in his post; they are accurate, factual, and to the point.
On the other hand, I can't for the life of me see why HVHECCCA, or whatever his name is, continues to display a hostile attitude toward other members here who submit posts.
Arrogance and constant criticism of other people's posts is considered bad manners on this forum, especially from a newcomer, and is an insult to the other posters.
Your confrontational attitude toward the other members has been noted before, but you still persist---you reap what you sow.
Once again, the original poster is short-changed by a hostile HVHEHCCA!
I agree with dodsie; we're still in the exploratory phase of getting info that will help the OP, and hvhehcca can only think of slamming Dobbs!
But when someone criticizes one of HIS posts he's the first one to cry "foul".
I still contend he's directly related to leslie.
Please give me one sentence that shows arrogance or any digs at Dobbs. People come here for advice and help and deserve the best advice.
I stand by what I said because it is fact. Homes and especially older homes generally have 35% more radiation then is needed. Why? Older homes have changed, windows have been updated, insulation in the attics have been updated, doors updated and possibly the insulation in the walls.
By measuring board you are just measuring its capable btu output. That has nothing to do with the heat loss of the home. The output capability based on what Dobbs gave may not necessarily be correct anyway. Why? You don't know the heat loss of the zone and when you don't know the heat loss you don't know the flow rate. Flow rate along with water temp dictates btu output of the board. Dobbs is correct in that board puts out roughly 560 btu's but that is at a 1gpm flow rate. What if the zones heat loss is 20,000 btu's what is it output then?
I am not being confrontational just providing the correct information. I love the loyalty here and there is nothing wrong with that but someone elses opinion shouldn't always be looked at like confrontation.
He doesn't even know he's insulting others.
Is there a moderator in the house???
Did my post insult you? Do you see anything in my post that is incorrect and not based off proper hydronic design?
I appreciate the help. My intent is to leave my heating oil boiler in service and use the fireplace insert to reduce my reliance on heating oil. The insert I am looking at claims 83% to 86% "stady state" efficiency. The $3,500 cost of the insert vs more than $7,500 for a new gas boiler and removal of my heating oil tank makes me think the arithmetic is on the side of the insert especially since (as noted) we can't be sure the price advantage of natural gas will continue) but I need all the help and advice I can get. Will a 33,000 or 40,000 BTU insert allow for SUBSTANTIAL reduction in heating oil use?
I understand your thought process but don't think you'll find overall fuel cost savings. It also won't heat the space. May take the chill off but that's about it. There are simpiler more cost effective ways to make your existing oil boiler more efficient. Take a look at the Beckett AquaSmart it can save you up to 20% and is a simple install.
You still could have a heat loss of the home done. You may find that you can also down-fire the boiler which again is nothing more then a nozzle change and combustion test. Another cost effective way to reduce fuel consumption.
Lastly, when you have the heat loss done make sure it's a room by room heat loss. Once its completed you can then measure the existing radiation and compare its capable output at different water temperatures to see if you can lower the boiler water temp. We find that most baseboard systems can run on 160 degree water because of the amount of radiation that was installed. That's a 20 degree difference which is about another 7% in fuel savings.
Simple cost effective ways can turn into big savings but it all starts with a heat loss. It's the road map.
Its best and ever new point as natural gas is environment friendly than oil.