How To Convert to Natural Gas
It’s one thing to consider converting your home to natural gas, and another thing to actually go through the process. It can seem daunting, but it’s not as complicated as it seems. There are professionals to help you with every step of the process.
You’ll likely find switching to clean natural gas is worth a little investment of time and money to save your wallet over the long run.
Here’s a handy guide to the process of switching your home over.
- Start by investigating whether gas is available in your area and if your home is eligible to receive it. Fill out this form to find out.
- Once you’ve got a thumbs-up, select an HVAC contractor to carry out the work. Find one you can trust on Washington Gas’s participating HVAC contractors list.
- The first work the person you’ve hired should do is to estimate the cost and feasibility of the project, then submit the required conversion paperwork to Washington Gas. The necessary paperwork includes:
- Washington Gas will send a commitment letter, which will detail any costs and requires your signature and payment. The signed letter allows Washington Gas to apply for required permits and permissions.
- A utility locating service must mark public underground utilities before a gas line can be laid. Once that is complete, a Washington Gas underground subcontractor will install your gas line and meter.
- Finally your contractor will install your natural gas appliances, interior gas lines, and any other needed equipment. The contractor will also arrange for local code authority inspections.
Keep these tips in mind as you go through this process:
- For your contractor, hire licensed trade professional in accordance with local codes.
- For your appliances, buy products that satisfy your local code authority; the dealer should know what to look for. Also make sure to get and keep copies of necessary permits for your gas products. The dealer or installer should know what you need.
Finally, sit back and enjoy your natural gas.
The Cost of Converting to Natural Gas
Homeowners often wonder what determines if there is a cost to converting their homes to natural gas.
The answer? Whether or not you’ll have to contribute depends on several factors.
- Your house’s proximity to natural gas piping
Each house that uses gas must be hooked up to the nearest natural gas distribution pipe. How much this costs depends on how close you are to the pipe. Typically if you are within 100 feet, you are a good candidate for conversion.
Whether the customer must contribute any amount to the cost of connecting the house to the pipe is decided based on a calculation ascribed by local tariff law. This calculation compares the likely cost of serving a customer with the estimated amount the company will earn from that customer’s business over time.
- Road and paving conditions around your house
To determine the cost of connecting your house to the gas line, the company will look at local conditions. If you live in a “mature area”—a developed city with lots of paving—the cost of connecting will be higher. Since pipes are usually under the street, workers must cut into the street and break up sidewalks up to connect to the pipe.
“We dig tunnels, we drill, we bore, we do all that stuff,” says John Ray, Manager of Business Acceptance at Washington Gas. And of course there are requirements for restoration, further adding to the cost of the project.
- The number of appliances that are being converted
You will have to provide a list of your gas appliances in writing upon conversion. The more gas appliances you install when you convert—the more revenue credit you will get to offset your converting cost. You’ll do well to install a lot of gas appliances, especially the biggest gas users: a furnace and a water heater.
How to Read Your Gas Bill
Utility bills have a lot of parts, and things can get confusing. It is common for customers to need a little help interpreting their gas bills.
For example, you might wonder what CCF stands for. Or ask: What’s the difference between the distribution charge and the purchase gas charge?
Here’s a little help understanding the items and charges you’ll find on your bill each month.
What items will you see on your bill?
• Gas use, reading, date, and method, found at the top right, tell your current and previous readings, the reading index from your meter, the dates the meter was read, and whether the reading was an actual or estimated reading.
• Gas usage detail, in the middle section of the bill, provides the calculation for the total gas charges for the month.
• Charges comprise the amount of the current and/or previous bill, late payment fees, deposit request (if applicable), the total due, and the due date.
• The 12-month energy use history allows you to compare your monthly gas usage over the course of the year.
What are the charges on your bill?
• CCF of Gas Used is the unit of measurement on the meter. One CCF is equal to 100 cubic feet of gas, which equals one therm.
• Distribution Charge is the cost of delivering natural gas to your home or business.
• Purchase Gas Charge, labeled “PGC,” includes the company’s cost of purchasing and transporting the natural gas through the interstate pipeline system. By regulation, Washington Gas must charge customers what it pays and cannot profit by increasing the cost of natural gas. This should be stated in your contract.
• Customer Charge covers some costs of providing service, such as depreciation, taxes, maintenance and repair of customer lines, meter reading, and billing.
• Taxes are imposed by the local government, collected by the company, and remitted to the appropriate taxing authorities.
Why does the cost of my bill vary from month to month?
Many things large and small can impact the amount of your bill. Charges will change slightly because variations in the rate of gas and weather conditions. The equipment used, the size of the meter, and the size of the premises that the gas is supplying will determine the size of the bill, so any change in these will also change the cost.
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