Natural Gas in 2018 in Massachusetts
and your heating options
Since the Natural Gas Explosion that happened back in September has put Massachusetts Natural Gas infrastructure under scrutiny and has lead many to consider going away entirely from Natural Gas. This opens up homeowners to electric heat, Oil heat, or Propane heat. We’ll take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each of the fuel sources listed above and how those can impact your home comfort.
Natural Gas while one of the most energy-efficient fuel sources on the market, relies on an aging infrastructure that dates backs to WWI or WW2. While Natural Gas is energy efficient it’s delivery system is not, not even a little. Natural Gas is delivered to the house via pipes that snake and maze through the country and cities. As the earth around the pipes shifts over time, the pipes don’t, leading to cracks and breaks in the pipes that while not affecting the delivery of the gas, leaks harmful methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a 30 times more potent greenhouse than CO2, which is commonly referred to as the worst offender of climate change.
If you want to move completely away from any kind of fossil fuel, electric heat pumps or baseboards are the way to go. When paired with solar panels, this heat source can make you completely green. Heat pumps have become more and more popular in recent years, heat pumps capture heat that is in the air. In the past heat pumps were used almost exclusively in more moderate temperature areas. Heat pumps have finally become efficient and powerful enough to pull heat from even the coldest climates. While these have come a long way they are still fairly expensive when applied to your whole home. Heat pumps and baseboard heaters have to installed on a room-to-room basis which can quickly increase the price of the install. To be entirely green you will also need solar panels, adding to the bill.
In many cases when Natural Gas came into cities and neighborhoods, homeowners move from Oil heat to the promise of on-demand clean burning Natural Gas. For the longest time, Natural Gas could claim that they had the cleanest burning and most energy efficient fuel on the market. This is not 100% correct anymore as Oil heat has evolved with the introduction of Bioheat and oil equipment has gotten more efficient over the years. Bioheat is a blend of biodiesel and traditional heating oil, usually found in blends of 2, 5, and 20 percent biodiesel to traditional heating oil. More about bioheat can be found on our bioheat page. Bioheat is American-made and burns cleaner than traditional heating oil, making it one of the most efficient and green home fuel sources.
Lastly, we have Natural Gas’s closest fuel relative, Propane. When buying Natural Gas heating equipment you may have noticed that the equipment noted that it could work with Propane. Of course, you can’t just turn off the Natural Gas and swap in a Propane tank and expect it to work, but with the help of a trained professional, it will. Propane has some environmental benefits over Natural Gas, as we mentioned above, Natural Gas is delivered to house through pipes in the ground. Propane on the other is delivered by a propane truck to your home, this is similar to how Oil is delivered. As propane has to be stored in a tank at your home, this negates the benefits of Natural Gas’s on-demand delivery. While you may have to rely on delivery trucks and a local company for your propane, the bright side is that you have to rely on a delivery truck and a local company! Yes, that was repeated on purpose, propane companies hire local drivers, techs, and other staff members with an office in your town or maybe the town over. Natural Gas on the other hand does hire service staff to tend to their pipes or to expand out their infrastructure, they are more often than not owned by large corporations located cities or even countries away. Propane, like natural gas, is one of the most versatile fuel sources you can have in your home. It not only can fuel your home heating equipment and water, but a fireplace insert, dryer, cooktop, stove, pool heater, and much more.
If the recent Natural Gas issues in Massachusetts have you worried about your own natural gas service and have you thinking of switching your options are plentiful. But what is your best choice? If you want to make the switch to a completely green solution, you should go with solar panels and electric heat. If you want to have the least disruption to your home comfort, propane is probably your best solution. If you want to be less reliant on foreign fuel and add a touch of green to your home heating then Oil heat has never been a better solution.