by Harriet Bond
(San Francisco, CA, USA)
Natural gas is one of the most versatile fossil fuels used in the United States with approximately 22% of energy consumption coming from natural gas. Most gas consumed in the U. S. is produced in the U. S., with some coming from Canada. More than 60% of U.S. homes use natural gas as their main source of heating. It burns cleanlier than other fossil fuels with demand increasing at about 6% each year.
Natural gas is a non-renewable fuel that’s odorless, colorless and tasteless. Then what’s that awful odor when you turn on a gas jet that some say smells like rotten eggs? It’s a chemical called mercaptan added before distribution as a safety device. Natural gas is moved from production fields to consumers and stored in large underground storagesystems for use when needed.
Uses for natural gas include high efficiency furnaces and boilers, space and water heating, ranges, gas grills and fireplaces, spa and pool heaters. It’s also a major source of generating electricity.
Studies reveal many benefits of natural gas making homes more valuable and desirable. Natural gas furnaces last twice as long as an electric heat pump providing a more comfortable heat.
Water heating and clothes drying are done faster and more effectively with gas. When drying clothes, dry consecutive loads to take advantage of built up heat. Separate heavy clothes from light weight fabrics to reduce drying time and use the proper water level for your load size when washing.
Gas is safer to cook with since you can see the flame reducing the chance of getting burned. Adjust the flame to fit the bottom of your pan. If the flame goes beyond the bottom you’re wasting energy. Reach the desired temperature more quickly when heating food by using lids or covers.
Check and clean your furnace regularly to gain optimum benefits from natural gas. Have a professional tune up your furnace each year to save at least 2%. Turn off any pilot light if you’re going to not be using that appliance for a prolonged period. Caulk and seal doors and windows when drafts are detected to keep the cold out. Shut fireplace dampers and close doors and vents in unused rooms.
A gas radiator located near a cold wall is inefficient. Place a sheet of aluminum foil between the radiator and the wall to reflect the heat back into the room.
If you’re upgrading your appliances be sure and purchase the Energy Star models. With this program, you’re sure to get the most energy efficient appliance available. Rebates may be available when you switch from electric to gas on some appliances. Your dealer can usually help you with this.
More home builders and home owners are choosing to use natural gas, especially for heating. When you save money and increase your efficiency, you might say you’re cooking with gas.