The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

July 30, 2013

Windber: Boiler switch will mean savings

WINDBER — At just 3 years old, the Windber borough building’s oil boiler is likely near the bottom of council’s maintenance list.

In fact, it works just fine.

But after a year in which the borough spent more than $7,200 to fuel the boiler, thanks to high heating oil costs, council will switch to natural gas this year. Council members voted last week to have a wall-mounted, high-efficiency gas boiler installed.

“Right now, everyone’s going to natural gas,” Borough Manager Fred Oliveros said. “The way things are looking right now, (the investment) will pay itself off in 21⁄2 to three years, considering what we’ve been paying for oil.”

After two months of seeking bids, council approved a $5,650 offer to add and install a 94 percent efficient Burnham direct vent boiler.

Laurel Management provided the lowest quotes for the project, Oliveros said, but it was the higher of the two bids, for the American-made Burnham, that council chose.

The difference between the one council picked and one Laurel offered,  which was built by Heat Transfer Products, was about $900, Oliveros said.

“Burnham is a well-established company,” Councilman Jim Furmanchik said after several fellow council members noted that its products are widely used in the borough.

That means finding a company to service or provide parts for the boiler shouldn’t be a problem, Oliveros noted.

The switch won’t happen overnight, he said.

Natural gas provider Keystone Cooperative has indicated it will connect a line to the building and install a meter for a $400 fee, but a date to do the work has not been scheduled, Oliveros said.

“We don’t want to pull our (oil) boiler out of there until we’re ready to connect the new one,” he said, noting the plan is to switch to natural gas before the weather turns cold.

The borough, meanwhile, will seek offers for its current 260,000 btu boiler.

“If we can get a few thousand dollars for it, that would be good,” Oliveros said.

“I don’t think it will be too difficult to get rid of it,” Councilman Anthony Turcato said “It’s practically new. And a lot of (buildings) around here still rely on oil.”

David Hurst covers the Windber area for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @tddavidhurst.

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