Winter is around the corner. The beautiful fall days can turn into some dreadfully cold nights. You probably already have had to turn on your furnace a few times. You get a small break in the bills when you don’t need air conditioning or heat, but soon, the furnace will be running all day. You get to keep warm, but you also get to spend more money.
If you heat your home with oil or electricity, you are already aware that you spend more money than people who heat with natural gas. You don’t want to incur an unnecessary expense, but switching to natural gas can be a wise investment in the long run. Many homes, businesses and industries have made the switch — and are thankful they did.
Natural Gas Is Abundant
Natural gas has surpassed coal as the leading generator of electricity in the United States. Natural gas is responsible for 34 percent of the nation’s electrical output, versus 30 percent for coal. This abundance has caused a greater increase in demand for natural gas and more production of it.
U.S. companies are even exporting natural gas to meet the demands of other countries. Natural gas isn’t a fuel you will have to wait for to be delivered or have to worry about running out of.
Natural Gas Is Cheaper
Oil, electricity and even propane are much more expensive than natural gas. Heating a house with oil during the winter costs an average of $1,700, while using gas would cost around $900. Gas furnaces are less expensive than oil-burning furnaces, too.
To make the conversion, you will have to invest a few thousand dollars, depending on factors such as the age of your home. Homes built before gas lines were added will require an additional expense to install one. But if you do the math, you can see how you will recoup your investment over a short period.
Natural Gas Is Better for the Environment
Natural gas is among the cleanest fuels you can use. You will never miss the smell of fuel oil or the smoke it produces. Burning natural gas doesn’t emit sulfur dioxide into the air we breathe. It does produce carbon emissions, but by less than 60 percent if you were burning oil. Oil is so bad for the environment that there is legislation to try to phase out fuel oil over time.
Natural Gas Is Efficient
Oil-burning furnaces achieve efficiency ratings somewhere in the 70 percent range. Natural gas furnaces can reach up to 98 percent efficiency. You’re spending less money in the first place, and the fuel you are paying for is getting more heat for the dollar.
Natural Gas Is Versatile
You can’t run your dryer on heating oil, but you can operate it using natural gas. Once you have a gas line coming into your house, you can use natural gas to heat your stove, water tank, fireplace — even your outdoor barbecue grill.
Natural Gas Adds Value
Once you make the investment to convert from oil or some other source to natural gas, you will add value to your home. If you decide to sell your home in the future, you will be better off than your neighbors who didn’t.
Like being in an unfavorable school district, a home that uses heating oil or relies on electricity for heat will be less desirable for buyers. Most people just don’t want to have to deal with it, and there are many other homes that have more modern appliances.
Conversely, if you have an updated heating system and multiple gas appliances, you will have more positive selling points. People who enjoy cooking know gas stoves offer even heat and much more control over the cooking process. Gas stoves also use about half as much energy as their electric counterparts, in addition to being more efficient and easier to clean.
Disadvantages of Natural Gas
There are multiple benefits of using natural gas, but there’s always a downside to everything. Here are some of the disadvantages of natural gas.
· It’s Highly Combustible
Light so much as a spark in a room filled with gas, and your house will explode. Natural gas is odorless and colorless, so you won’t be aware of a leak in your house unless your provider adds an odorant to it — which they usually do. Pipes can leak, and it’s easy to accidentally leave an unlit stove on. Some people just aren’t comfortable with the idea of gas being hooked up to their houses.
· It’s Still Fossil Fuel
Yes, natural gas is better for the environment, but it is still a non-renewable fossil fuel. Though it’s plentiful and easily available, there is a finite amount of it, just like other fossil fuels. It would be better for our environment to pursue renewable energy sources, like methane or solar and wind power. But these sources aren’t in common use to heat our homes, and the costs are still much higher.
· Natural Gas Is Linked to Terrorism
Many of the countries with large supplies of gas and oil are run by dictatorships with horrible human rights records, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. The revenue earned from natural gas may end up funding these governments and the terror organizations they are associated with. Again, renewable energy not linked to hostile governments would be a better solution.
Natural gas causes greenhouse gas, which contributes to climate change and global warming, but not nearly as much as oil. While solar and wind energy may be cleaner and renewable, natural gas is more practical for mass consumption.
Unfortunately, the technology to switch our homes over to renewable energy on a large scale isn’t currently available, so natural gas is still your most environmentally friendly option. Your biggest hurdle to switching to natural gas will be the initial investment. But your bills will be lower, and you will slowly recoup your money while enjoying all the other benefits of using natural gas.