natural gas

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Gas vs. Electric for Heating, Cooking, and Hot Water

When both natural gas and electricity are readily available, which makes the most sense?

Posted on Oct 2 2017 by Scott Gibson

Lydia Segal is planning a 2,000-square foot house in Colorado (Climate Zone 6B), and aiming for "Pretty Good House" performance. Among the many questions she's trying to answer is whether electricity or natural gas is the best choice for heating, domestic hot water, and cooking.

She's lucky enough to have both a reliable electricity grid and easy access to natural gas in the small community where she lives. So the practicalities of delivery are not really a concern.

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Image Credits:

  1. Scott Gibson

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Natural Gas Pipelines Are Leaking

Natural gas is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, and some experts say that ‘natural gas is worse than coal’

Posted on May 19 2017 by Martin Holladay

The CO2 emissions associated with the burning of natural gas are less than the CO2 emissions associated with burning an equivalent amount of coal. Because of this fact, natural gas is seen by many policy makers as a “clean” alternative to coal.

In the last few years, however, climate activists have been pointing out two worrisome facts: (1) methane (natural gas) is a potent greenhouse gas — about 80 times more potent than CO2 (on a mass basis) during the first 20 years after the methane is released; and (2) our nation’s natural gas pipelines are much leakier than some people thought.

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Image Credits:

  1. Nathan Phillips

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New Oil Discoveries Add to Glut

Recent finds in Alaska and Texas point to low prices for years to come, even as many environmentalists push to keep fossil fuels in the ground

Posted on Oct 12 2016 by Scott Gibson

New discoveries in Alaska and Texas have added billions of barrels of oil to claimed reserves, increasing odds that oil prices will remain low well into the future.

The New York Times reported that the finds come at a time of a global oil glut that has kept prices at roughly $50 a barrel even as environmentalists look for ways to keep fossil fuels in the ground and avoid continued increases in atmospheric CO2.

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Image Credits:

  1. Paul Lowry / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

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Unvented Gas Appliance Industry Fails to Impress ASHRAE

A research study they paid for and presented at the residential ventilation standard committee meeting hurt their case

Posted on Feb 10 2016 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

Unvented combustion appliances were added to the scope of ASHRAEAmerican Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). International organization dedicated to the advancement of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration through research, standards writing, publishing, and continuing education. Membership is open to anyone in the HVAC&R field; the organization has about 50,000 members. 's residential ventilation and IAQIndoor air quality. Healthfulness of an interior environment; IAQ is affected by such factors as moisture and mold, emissions of volatile organic compounds from paints and finishes, formaldehyde emissions from cabinets, and ventilation effectiveness. standard (standard 62.2) recently. The committee has begun their deliberations on the issue, and at ASHRAE's winter meeting in Orlando last month, the unvented gas appliance industry folks attempted a defense of their products. Based on the results they presented and the reaction from most committee members, I'd say they failed.

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Image Credits:

  1. Energy Vanguard

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GBA Prime Sneak Peek: Green Building in the Cheap Energy Era

In 2016, green builders will need to face the implications of low energy prices

Posted on Jan 5 2016 by Martin Holladay Prime subscribers have access to many articles that aren't accessible to non-subscribers, including Martin Holladay's weekly blog series, “Musings of an Energy Nerd.” To whet the appetite of non-subscribers, we occasionally offer non-subscribers access to a “GBA Prime Sneak Peek” article like this one.

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A Second Look at a Surprising Study on Energy

An earlier report found tougher energy codes have not reduced the use of energy, but the analysis was off-base

Posted on Mar 17 2015 by Steven Nadel

Steven Nadel is the executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. This post originally appeared on the ACEEE blog. posted a news story about the original study in January.

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Image Credits:

  1. Wikimedia Commons

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When the Gas Pipeline Shuts Down

What would happen to urban residents if utilities stopped delivering natural gas and electricity?

Posted on Mar 14 2014 by Martin Holladay

In the wake of the recent military crisis in Crimea, energy experts have been discussing whether Vladimir Putin will be tempted to gain political advantage by shutting the valves on the Russian natural gas pipelines that supply Ukraine and Western Europe. Regardless of whether this scenario is likely, such speculation raises the question: How would urban residents in a cold climate cope if the supply of natural gas were suddenly turned off?

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Image Credits:

  1. All photos: Martin Holladay

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The Hazards of Cooking With Gas

Researchers in California report that indoor pollution levels exceed legal outdoor limits in many homes with gas stoves

Posted on Aug 6 2013 by Scott Gibson

Cooking with gas lowers indoor air quality and raises a variety of health concerns, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report.

Scientists found indoor pollution levels in many homes exceeded legal outdoor limits. In an article posted at Indoor Environment Connections, Dr. Brett Singer said, "If these were conditions that were outdoors, the Environmental Protection Agency would be cracking down. But since it's in people's homes, there's no regulation requiring anyone to fix it.

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Comparing Fuel Costs

An online Fuel Cost Calculator lets you compare the cost of heating with natural gas, propane, fuel oil, electricity, and firewood

Posted on Nov 15 2012 by Alex Wilson

If there’s one thing that we can predict with certainty about fuel costs, it’s that they fluctuate a lot. That wasn’t always the case. The price of electricity, natural gas, propane, and heating oil were remarkably stable for decades — up until the 1970s.

Since then, prices of most fuels have gyrated wildly, driven by political unrest in some parts of the world, periods of greater or lower demand driven by periods of strong economic growth or contraction, resource limitations (real or perceived), and the situation in China and other parts of this increasingly connected world.

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Image Credits:

  1. BuildingGreen, Inc.

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Large-Scale Solar at Fort Bliss in Texas

The U.S. Army has been installing photovoltaic and solar-thermal systems as it pursues compliance with a net-zero mandate

Posted on May 8 2012 by Richard Defendorf

Fort Bliss – whose 1.2 million acres stretch from West Texas, near El Paso, into New Mexico – is the U.S. Army’s largest post by land area, and it faces a commensurately large conservation challenge: severe reductions in the base’s energy and water use, and a 90% reduction in trash headed for landfill.

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Image Credits:

  1. U.S. Army

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