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Community and Q&A

Fixed costs for natutal gas

gaspr | Posted in General Questions on

So how much do you pay for the “fixed” costs on your gas bill? In other words, how much do you pay per month, regardless of whether you use any gas or not?
The reason I ask is that it is a fact that as the heating load is decreased as in a superinsulated, super tight home, that the price advantage of gas over electric also decreases. Eventually, if the load goes low enough, electric heat becomes the cheaper solution…
Here in Saskatchewan, the fixed portion of my gas bill is $15/month. In Alberta, I’ve heard that it is over $30.

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  1. Robert Riversong | | #1

    I assume you're talking about natural gas, delivered by pipeline.

    Here in New England, we use LPG/propane/bottled gas for heating and cooking. We pay only for each gallon delivered, with no service charge. While LPG is more expensive than natural gas with less energy density, it's nice to pay only for what you use.

    My electric bill, however, because I consume so little power (less than 100 kWh/month), and because I'm paying a slight premium for green power, averages $.28/kWh even though the rate is only $.14/kWh.

    I imagine you also pay a service fee for electric grid connectivity and maintenance, so the same counter-incentive for electricity conservation also holds.

  2. gaspr | | #2

    Yes, we do pay $17.50/month as a basic fixed charge for electricity, and 10.5 cents/kwh for actual usage. So yes, there is the same counter incentive for electricity, but I consider it a necessity. NG is an option...

  3. Robert Riversong | | #3

    Is cheaper (i.e. financial cost) the best determinant of appropriate choice?

    Perhaps your electricity is all produced by renewable fuels (I doubt that), but electricity produced by fossil fuels is approximately 30% efficient and a significant contributor to global warming. And electricity produce by nuclear fission produces extremely toxic wastes that cannot be safely disposed of. Even hydro-electricity has significant environmental impacts (and often displaces First Nation peoples).

    Natural gas, at least, burns cleanly. Financial cost is a poor measure of value, since much of the cost is either subsidized by government or defered to our grandchildren or "externalized" to the environment.

  4. Andrew Henry | | #4

    Robert has a point. In Alberta, electricity is mostly from coal fired generating stations and I would think it might be similar in Saskatchewan.

    Natural gas is probably the most responsible energy option for heating in your context.

    Also, there are fixed costs on many electricity utilities bills as well. At times they are a proportion of the energy used but often they are a straight up monthly charge. I'm pretty certain that my Hydro Quebec bill has a fixed charge. And the hydro bill in Ontario used to and may still have charges for retiring the debt for the the cost over runs incurred when they built nuclear facilities twenty to thirty years ago.

    And Hydro electric though it may not create much in the way of GHG emissions it should in no way be mistaken as being environmentally benign as reservoirs submerge a great deal of land and destroy the river ecosytems they dam.

    As to the question of cheaper, if your electricity comes from coal it is cheap now because the utility doesn't have to pay a price for it carbon emissions. This will change! You should factor that into any decision you make.

  5. Robert Riversong | | #5

    What are you Canadians doing on-line this weekend? Don't you celebrate the Pilgrim invasion of the America's and the survival help they got from Squanto, who taught the hapless Europeans how to plant corn? Don't you give gratitude for the fact that Squanto could speak English because he had been abducted and made a slave in Europe some years before, and the place where he taught the new settlers to plant corn was the village he had grown up in, Patuxet, then depopulated by the impact of European diseases?

    Oops! This forum is about green building not living in harmony with the Earth and its native creatures. My apologies.

  6. Andrew Henry | | #6

    Yes, kind of, but we do it in mid-October which would have traditionally been when the local fall harvest came in. Of course, most people are unaware of local harvest cycles nowadays, so the timing of the holiday is becoming less significant.

    In solidarity with your holiday many of my brethren are shopping on-line and taking advantage of the Black Friday discounted consumption opportunity.

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