Problems with Natural Gas in the Home for Developers & Residents
Natural gas is a common energy source in many households nationwide and abroad. While it may be convenient and affordable, it also poses serious risks that can endanger the health and safety of occupants. The process by which we acquire and refine natural gas is also destructive. It pollutes our air and water. The widespread use of natural-gas-powered appliances and systems also further depletes a finite resource upon which we all depend. This post delves deeper into the impacts of natural gas-powered appliances and home systems. From those that affect developers to those that impact residents, read on to learn more about problems with natural gas in the home.
Stats About the Use of Natural Gas
How many homes use natural gas?
Natural gas is a popular energy source for homes in the United States. Many assume that natural gas prevails when compared with other energy sources. However, Susan Phillips dispels the myth that natural gas is more widespread in an article for Philadelphia’s WHYY.
Referencing Federal Energy Information Administration data, Phillips writes, “58 million households nationwide used natural gas to heat their homes in 2020.” On the other hand, “about 69 million used electricity.”
Unfortunately, natural gas is still the norm in Northeast states. Phillips notes that “more than 11 million homes burn[ed] fossil fuels, while more than 9 million used electricity.”
how much does natural gas contribute to climate change?
is natural gas the cheapest form of energy
While it was once widely available at a meager cost, natural gas prices have skyrocketed in recent years. This is due to supply chain disruptions, regulatory action, and more.
According to this United Nations (UN) resource, “renewables are the cheapest form of power today.” In fact, “investments in renewables in 2021 saved US$55 billion in global energy generation costs” last year alone! Of course, natural gas still costs less than other fuel sources like coal.
While natural gas seems like an inexpensive option for energy, we must also consider the long-term costs. The environmental damage caused by natural gas is costly and devastating, affecting our health and the well-being of future generations.
Furthermore, relying on natural gas puts us at risk of supply chain disruptions and consumer price volatility. The production and transportation of natural gas are
subject to various factors. These factors include geopolitical tensions, market fluctuations, and infrastructure failures. All can cause shortages or price spikes.
In contrast, renewable energy sources like solar and wind power are becoming increasingly affordable and reliable, with predictable costs over time.
does natural gas cost more than electricity?
According to Zack Reeves and Dr. Rosemary Avance, Ph.D., in an article for Consumer Affairs, “Natural gas is almost always cheaper than electricity.” They write that “choosing all gas appliances can save you up to 30 percent on your utility bill.” However, regulations that limit emissions will likely add a premium to natural gas costs soon.
Plus, electric appliances are often more efficient than natural gas appliances. This study published in Energy Economics – which examines the implications of switching from natural gas to electricity–underscores that. Researchers Mara Hammerle and Paul J. Burke said, “In net terms, energy use reductions were generally achieved.” In particular, “more vulnerable households can experience large energy use savings” by switching to electric systems.
problems with natural gas- powered appliances
impact on human health
Natural gas-powered appliances threaten human health and our broader ecosystem – all while chipping away at a finite resource upon which we have become far too dependent. One major problem with natural gas in the home is the potential for leaks. Natural gas leaks are not only dangerous for people and pets. They can also be deadly.
Gas leaks can cause explosions, fires, and long-term exposure, putting everyone at risk. Exposure to natural gas can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and other health problems. One significant concern is carbon monoxide poisoning from faulty natural gas appliances like furnaces or stoves. Exposure to high levels of this odorless gas can be life-threatening. These risks are especially concerning, considering many homeowners may only realize they have a gas leak too late.
indoor Air Pollution
Unfortunately, a significant gas leak is not the only health impact of natural gas-powered appliances. According to scientist Michael Bisesi, Ph.D., CIH, in an article written by Susannah Kistler for Ohio State Health & Discovery, “natural gas stoves, cooktops, and ovens tend to leak gases — even when not in use — that can build up in the home and possibly cause health problems.”
If you do not adequately vent your gas-powered appliances, “ultrafine particulate matter and gases such as methane, harmful nitrogen oxides or even deadly carbon monoxide — are released into the indoor air.” And if your appliances are outdated, they might “undetected or slow gas leakage.”
Referencing a peer-reviewed study from the University of Sydney in an article for RMI.org, Brady Seals underscores the extreme damage gas appliances can cause. According to the study, “nearly 13% of childhood asthma cases in the US can be linked to having a gas stove in the home.”
outdoor air pollution
Another problem with natural gas is its contribution to air pollution. When natural gas is burned, it releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. These emissions to global warming and climate change. According to this report from researchers at the Rocky Mountain Institute, “US building appliances release 425,000 tons of harmful nitrogen oxides each year.” This amounts to more nitrogen oxide emissions “than oil refineries or gas-fired power plants” annually. We elaborate on this further below.
In addition, natural gas production and transport release harmful pollutants into the air, such as methane. Methane has a much more potent greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide. This affects human health and harms our environment by increasing smog levels and causing respiratory problems.
It’s important to note that not only does burning natural gas contribute to environmental harm, but so does its transport process. Natural gas transportation also releases harmful pollutants into the air, causing smog levels to increase and respiratory problems for humans and animals alike.
Furthermore, extracting natural gas through hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” poses additional risks to our water supply and surrounding ecosystems. Fracking involves pumping large amounts of chemicals and water deep underground to extract natural gas, contaminating nearby water sources and damaging wildlife habitats.
The process also produces vast amounts of wastewater that must be appropriately treated and disposed of to prevent further environmental damage. This wastewater contains high levels of salt, heavy metals, and other contaminants that can harm human health and the environment.
In recent years, concern has grown about the impact of fracking on water resources. The wastewater produced by fracking operations must be treated before it is released or reused for other purposes. They must also submit regular reports to regulatory agencies detailing the quality of their wastewater output.
Fracking threatens not only the quality of our water but also its availability. Firstly, fracking requires vast amounts of water, which can strain local water supplies. This can lead to water shortages in areas where fracking is prevalent.
Despite these regulations, concerns remain about the potential long-term effects of fracking on water resources. Some studies have suggested that fracking may contaminate groundwater sources, leading to health problems for nearby communities. As such, we must continue carefully monitoring the wastewater output of fracking operations.
impacts on the Environment
Another issue with natural gas in the home is its impact on the environment. Beyond the immediate effects on local communities, natural gas also contributes to climate change through its production and use.
Natural gas acquisition and refinement release harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These gases trap heat and contribute to rising temperatures worldwide. This leads to more extreme weather events like hurricanes, wildfires, and ecological disruptions that harm wildlife and human populations.
Moreover, the drilling and extracting natural gas can cause long-lasting damage to ecosystems and disrupt entire communities. The infrastructure required for
natural gas production often involves clearing forests and other natural habitats, displacing animals and plants. In some cases, this disruption can even lead to the extinction of certain species. It can also result in irreversible environmental damage that will take years or decades to repair.
financial Impacts of Natural Gas Usage
Beyond the growing cost of natural gas usage in our home appliances and systems, natural gas can also financially impact entire communities. Finally, fracking can have negative impacts on local communities.
The noise and air pollution associated with drilling operations can be disruptive and harmful to residents’ health. Fracking can also lower property values and harm tourism industries in affected areas.
moving away from natural gas in Homes and Commercial Real Estate Developments
For developers in some states, natural gas appliances and other systems will soon be a thing of the past. In some cases, states will incentivize developers and homeowners to replace natural gas-burning appliances with induction cooktops and electric ovens. These incentives typically come in the form of rebates or tax credit
In other cases, natural gas-powered appliances and systems will be banned in new buildings – and some older buildings undergoing renovation. For example, New York recently announced plans to prohibit the burning of fossil fuels in new construction homes and commercial buildings. West Coast states have encouraged developers to pursue alternative energy sources in new buildings but have not gone as far. According to Emma Newburger in an article for CNBC, “New York will be the first state to pass a law to advance zero-emissions [construction].”
Incentives for Developers to stop using natural gas
More and more developers are turning towards electric appliances for their building projects. And it’s not just about being environmentally conscious. There
are a plethora of incentives that come with making this choice.
Firstly, choosing electric appliances can significantly reduce energy costs in the long run. While the initial investment may be higher than traditional appliances, the cost savings over time will compensate for it. This is especially true when considering the rise in utility prices. Many states and municipalities also offer tax credits and rebates for using energy-efficient products. Developers who choose electric appliances can even market their buildings as green and eco-friendly, attracting tenants or buyers who value sustainability.
In addition to financial benefits, electric appliances also have health advantages. Traditional gas stoves and heating systems emit harmful pollutants into the air, negatively impacting indoor air quality. Electric options don’t produce these emissions, creating healthier living environments for residents. Moreover, electric appliances tend to be quieter than gas ones, leading to a more peaceful atmosphere within homes or commercial spaces.
Overall, incentives for developers who choose electric appliances extend beyond environmental responsibility. They provide significant cost savings and potential marketing opportunities and promote healthier living conditions for occupants. As we continue to push towards a sustainable future, these incentives should only increase and encourage more widespread adoption of electric technologies. Below are a few financial incentives for developers across the US.
● Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) Programs
● Electric bill credits from utility providers
● Federal and state tax credits and rebates for new breaker boxes, stoves,
electrical wiring, etc.
● Local programs like Electrify Your Home
● Low-interest loans for all-electric construction
● Awards and grants for all-electric homes with low energy bills for residents
● Free or discounted technical help from engineers and other experts
● Rebates when developers use electric construction equipment instead of
fossil fuel-powered machines
In the same vein, some states have removed or walked back existing incentives designed to encourage using natural gas.
Consequences for Developers Who Continue Using Natural Gas
As our world becomes more environmentally conscious, the consequences of continuing to use natural gas as a primary energy source are becoming increasingly apparent. Developers who choose to ignore these consequences may face severe repercussions.
First and foremost, continued reliance on natural gas will devastate our planet. Burning fossil fuels such as natural gas releases carbon dioxide and other emissions into the atmosphere. This can lead to catastrophic events such as rising sea levels, extreme weather conditions, and food shortages. Developers who continue to rely on natural gas without exploring alternative energy sources effectively turn a blind eye to the genuine threat posed by climate change.
In addition to the environmental consequences, developers who refuse to adapt to changing times may find themselves at a financial disadvantage. As governments and consumers become more concerned with sustainability, businesses that do not prioritize renewable energy may struggle to compete. Some investors are already divesting from companies that rely heavily on fossil fuels, signaling a shift towards greener investments. Building sustainably can actually result in cost savings for developers in the long run.
Finally, developers might face fines from local and state governments if they refuse to install electrical appliances and systems. According to Jane Margolies in an article for The New York Times, developers and owners who do not electrify buildings could suffer financially. Margolies cites laws in New York that would penalize owners but notes that “other cities, including Boston and Washington,” have considered similar legislation.
Ultimately, developers must recognize that continuing to use natural gas is not sustainable. The long-term costs – financial, reputational, and environmental –are too high.
final thoughts about the use of natural gas at home
Despite the abovementioned concerns, many homeowners use natural gas as their primary energy source. However, alternatives available are safer, more sustainable, and less damaging to the environment.
Switching to renewable sources like solar or wind power is one way to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and protect ourselves and our planet from their harmful effects. By reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy sources, we can save the world and ourselves from the negative consequences of natural gas consumption.
building all electric homes in philadelphia
Building all-electric homes in Philadelphia could be an excellent way to combat the problems associated with natural gas usage in homes. Many modern appliances run solely on electricity, including heating and cooling systems.
If every Philadelphia household switched to all-electric appliances, we could significantly reduce our reliance on natural gas, leading to cleaner air and better health outcomes for residents.
At AVLV, we aim to implement and spread environmental and social sustainability awareness. As such, we design all-electric homes for our clients. These homes use
no natural gas and do not pollute their indoor or outdoor air with dangerous VOCs or other emissions.
We understand and impress upon the importance of creating healthy environments for people of all income levels. In partnerships with developers, we help create mixed-income housing that is sustainable and socially responsible. By prioritizing these values, we also help create financially viable developments that benefit all parties in the short and long term.
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