When people talk about energy and natural gas, opinions differ. Is it harmful to the environment, or the last great clean energy source? Perhaps we shouldn’t ask whether natural gas is a good source of energy, but instead examine why natural gas is a good source of energy.
What makes natural gas, natural gas? Like oil and coal, natural gas is a fossil fuel, formed deep below the surface of the earth. Scientists believe that natural gas, much like oil, formed millions of years ago when the remains of ancient plants and animals broke down under pressure and heat. The decaying matter formed gas, which got trapped in porous rocks in areas that were later covered with harder rocks.
Natural gas, along with propane, is largely produced domestically. As a homeowner, the main difference between the two is that propane is compressed into a liquid form and either sold in portable canisters, or delivered via truck to a permanent storage tank on your property. Natural gas, however, remains in its gaseous state and is delivered to your home via a pipeline.
Natural gas is affordable:
- Natural gas can cost drastically less than electricity to heat your home and the water you use. By heating your home with natural gas instead of non-gas sources, you could potentially save more than $5,700 on average over 15 years after making the switch.
- Natural gas is also a deregulated utility, meaning that consumers have more control and choice over the price they pay for gas. On top of those savings, appliances that use natural gas often have much lower operating costs than non-gas appliances, so making the switch to natural gas can save you even more.
Natural gas is a good choice for the environment:
- While natural gas is not as clean as solar or wind energy, it is the cleanest fossil fuel energy source available. According to the Florida Natural Gas Association, 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere for each home that uses a tankless water heater in place of a heater powered by another source.
- It’s often described as ‘clean burning’ since is produces fewer undesirable by-products per unit energy than coal.
- It’s energy efficient. On average, a typical coal-burning power plant in 2013 was about 33% efficient in converting heat energy into electrical power.
- Natural gas also produces nearly a third less carbon dioxide than coal and almost half less than oil when burned. Natural gas also emits little to no sulfur, meaning it is more eco-friendly and runs more efficiently than other fuels.
Natural gas is dependable:
- When heavy storms hit, and your power goes out, depending on water heaters, lights and HVAC systems that run on electricity means that you’re stuck with the bare minimum until the power comes back on. With natural gas, that’s not the case.
- A benefit of using natural gas-powered water heaters and other important appliances is that the energy is delivered through an underground pipeline—meaning your energy source is safe from the effects of heavy storms and extreme weather conditions. And because your water is heated without electricity, you don’t have to lose this comfort in an emergency.
If you are building, or considering switching your energy source, natural gas is a good source.