The price of oil is rising quickly, with no signs that it will stop any time soon. From now on into the future, it will only become scarcer and more costly to produce. And as the price of oil rises, so too does the price of almost every other commodity. This includes everything from electricity to the bread that you buy off the shelves of your local grocery store or bakery.
For people in Texas, a state that has always had its fair share of accessible oil, the rising cost and declining supply of oil fuel is an especially bitter pill to swallow. Oil plays a role in almost every facet of our lives and economy – while nearly 2/3rds goes towards transportation, additional applications include plastics, asphalt, fertilizer, feedstock, and military and defense.
Necessity being the mother of invention, some smart and adventurous homeowners are turning to natural gas as an alternative to power their appliances and everything else they need. Freeing your family from the grip of Big Oil might take some additional effort and ingenuity, but the outcome will be rewarding.
Why Natural Gas?
Natural gas is a combustible mixture of several hydrocarbon gases. A clean burning fuel, it can be used by homeowners as either compressed natural gas (CNG)or liquified natural gas (LNG). CNG offers a plethora of uses due to the versatility it has as a fuel. It can be burned directly to produce heat that can be used to cook or to simply keep your home warm in the coldest of months, or it can be used as fuel for a generator to produce electricity. It’s also commonly used as a transportation fuel.
Homeowners in Texas are at a considerable advantage due to the fact that there are a large number of available and plentiful natural gas deposits in Texas. This allows for CNG to be offered at a price that tends to be below that of grid-provided electricity for the amount of energy that it can produce. This also allows for homeowners to invest in wells on their land, which allows them to become both self-sufficient and to have an alternative to relying on an often inadequate and aging electrical grid.
Natural gas also burns cleaner than age-old alternatives like coal or charcoal, which means that there’s less harm to the environment and less hazards to you and your family when you use it as a fuel source.
If you have the proper knowledge, it is possible to install a gas line on your own. Directions for the assemblage and installation of gas lines can be found online and in print – though if you doubt your skills, it may be best to call a professional. Converting vehicles to run on natural gas can also be done relatively cheaply and easily.
How Does It Compare to Other Green Alternatives?
Natural gas tends to produce electricity more efficiently and reliably than most other green methods of energy production.
For example, it takes around eight times the amount of investment to reliably produce the same amount of energy with solar power as it would with natural gas. Couple this with the fact that natural gas costs around the same as coal, which is currently one of the cheapest methods of producing electricity, to see why it’s preferable in terms of efficiency.
In states where the energy market is deregulated, like New York, Nevada, and Ohio, many homeowners have chosen to work with electricity providers that utilize natural gas to create electricity (more info here). The switch makes sense from an environmental standpoint too, especially when you factor in that, per megawatt hour, electricity produced by coal creates roughly twice as much carbon dioxide emissions than electricity which is generated with natural gas (approximately 2,000 pounds vs. 1,100).
The other notion to keep in mind is that natural gas can reliably produce energy during all hours of the day with an independence from environmental conditions. That means a lack of wind or sun won’t stop it from providing you with heat or electricity.
The biggest and only real disadvantage of natural gas is that you must always have a source of it to reliably produce electricity. In other words, you must have an independent source of natural gas if the utilities ever go out for a prolonged period of time. Natural gas delivery tends to stop when the power grid fails.
Drop in Texas Natural Gas Prices
Natural gas prices in Texas are at an all-time low since 2008. The main reason this has occurred belongs to the recent advancements in shale well technology making it easier and safer to drill new natural gas wells that produce a large amount of product.
The price of natural gas in Texas is likely to remain on a slight incline over the next few years. The supply of natural gas will support this as the technology to efficiently meet any increases in demand will be in place. While natural gas, like oil, is a non-renewable resource, the amount of natural gas that lies beneath the earth will meet much of our needs for decades into the future.
My thanks to Beth Kelly for an excellent article.
Be aware. Be informed. Be prepared.