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.
“We are weighing the pros and cons of gas powered vs. electric powered system for DHW [domestic hot water] and for in-floor radiant heating,” she writes in a Q&A post at Green Building Advisor. “If we set aside the issue of fossil fuel use, what are the pros and cons of each?”
That question is the topic for this Q&A Spotlight.
[Lydia Segal’s name appears as “User-6885857” in her original post. For instructions on how to change screen names, see How the GBA Site Displays Readers’ Names.]
Burning fossil fuels is always a concern
It’s not really possible to set aside the environmental issues raised by the use of fossil fuels, replies GBA senior editor Martin Holladay. Burning fossil fuels “happens to be the greatest environmental threat to life on our planet,” Holladay writes.
“Most green builders design all-electric houses,” he adds. “If their local electric company offers a program for the purchase of wind-powered electricity, they sign up with the program. If possible, they install an on-site photovoltaic (PV) system to balance their annual energy use.”
That said, natural gas has one advantage over electricity when used for heat, Holladay says. It’s often cheaper on a BTU basis.
But there are a number of disadvantages to using gas. Not only does it…