In the United States approximately 23% of all energy consumption is via natural gas.
When we rebuilt the farm house (after the fire took everything) we had limited resources so we couldn’t go with solar or wind for energy, however Eric did build in such a way that we could easily convert to green energy sources should our situation change later in life.
Our intent is to live out our days here, in the house we built by hand. Our story and progress is on another website, if you’re interested, at Log Home Today.
Natural gas (aka propane in rural areas) was our fuel of choice. We were able to get a decent price on a natural gas boiler, hot water tank and stove that all converted easily to propane and I must say after winter’s use I am more than happy with the cost reduction from the wood/oil/electric usage of our old setup.
Natural gas heating with furnaces that last twice as long as an electric heat pump and provide a more comfortable and consistent heat. Another interesting fact I discovered while doing my research is that most of the gas we consume in the United States is produced in the U.S.A. while a small percentage gets piped in from Canada’s natural resources.
Aside from the reduced energy costs, natural gas and propane burns cleanlier than other fossil fuels which makes me feel a little eco-friendly and relatively happy with our choice. If you’re wondering why I am looking for the day we switch off propane it’s because it is a non-renewable fuel. Natural gas is moved from production fields to consumers and stored in large underground storage systems until needed by the distribution companies. The days of acquiring it cheaply won’t last forever and in the meantime the delivery of it is somewhat harmful to our environment. Given the larger evil – burning wood that we’ve trucked in but cut ourselves, oil and electricity use – natural gas was the lesser of them all.
In it’s virgin state natural gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless. If you have it in your home you may notice that there is an odor to gas or propane – like sulfur or a rotten egg that smells only when there is a leak or when the oven is first turned on. This is an added chemical, mercaptan, put in pre-distribution to homes as a safety feature. If you had a leak and that chemical hadn’t been added you would never know and that is a serious, life-threatening, problem.
As you already know, natural gas heating is supplied by high efficiency furnaces and boilers, water heaters, ovens and ranges, gas grills and fireplaces, and spa and pool heaters. What you may not know – because I didn’t – is that it is also a major source of generating electricity. Something else I learned during this research is that you can get clothes dryers for your laundry room that use natural gas and propane. In fact, water heating and clothes drying are done faster and more efficiently with gas systems. When drying clothes, dry consecutive loads and you’ll spend even less per load. Another trick – separate your heavy items such as jeans and towels, from light weight fabrics and you’ll save even more time in the dryer.
Optimum Performance from Gas Cooking Appliances and Boilers
Gas is safer to cook with since you can see the flame. Adjustments to the flame are immediate which allows you to be a better cook – less chances of burning your dinner, overcooking delicate items, and so on. And should you be create a culinary treat where you need a lot of heat, very quickly, gas is your best option. Just don’t allow the flame to go beyond the bottom of the pan or you’ll be wasting all that cheap energy.
Speaking of wasting energy…be sure to check and clean your furnace or boiler regularly to gain optimum benefits from natural gas use. Thankfully Eric has his OBT and works for a propane supply company and is therefore well connected with specialists. If you have a professional tune up your furnace each year you can save at least 2% on fuel costs. Another way to save is to turn off any pilot lights if you’re going to not be using that appliance for a prolonged period – read the appliance manual and/or talk to the professionals on doing this safely.
No matter what you’re heating or cooking with – or even if you are just using these resources at your winter retreat – caulk and seal doors and windows to keep the cold out with an inexpensive energy kit and shut any fireplace dampers or air vents in unused rooms. I read somewhere that a gas radiator situated near a cold wall is insanely inefficient but if you place a sheet of aluminum foil between the radiator and the wall, the heat will be reflected back into the room. This is not to be considered heating advice – always check with a professional before altering any heating space or appliance.
If you’re building like us, or contracting the work out, ask for natural gas or propane. It comes with my highest recommendations especially when you don’t have the funds to go solar or wind energy. You won’t be alone in your decisions – more and more builders and home owners are choosing natural gas to save money and increase efficiency in your home budget.