Converting Your Home to Natural Gas
Converting to natural gas can be a great decision for any homeowner, as you can reduce your carbon footprint and save costs at the same time. Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel.
The process of switching your home over has several steps, beginning with figuring out whether gas is available in your area. Fill out this form to see whether your home is eligible.
Assuming you’ve got a green light, choose a HVAC contractor. You can use Washington Gas' participating HVAC contractors, or choose your own. Have your contractor help figure out cost and feasibility, and submit the required conversion paperwork to Washington Gas.
The required documentation includes the Conversion Load Letter, the Customer Check-off Checklist, a property plat and/or dimensional sketch, and a marking of the meter location.
Washington Gas will then evaluate your request and send you a Commitment Letter laying out the cost, if any. As soon as you return the signed the Commitment Letter, Washington Gas will apply for all permits and permissions required to complete the work.
A utility-locating service will mark all public underground utilities, and then a Washington Gas subcontractor will install the gas line and meter.
Your contractor will complete the installation of your natural gas appliances and other equipment. This includes installation of interior gas lines, equipment, and local code authority inspections.
There are several important factors to consider when undertaking this project.
- Hire a knowledgeable, experienced professional. Gas installation must be done right; Washington Gas recommends using a licensed trade professional in accordance with manufacturer's instructions and local codes.
- Make sure all your products meet code. Certification standards, building codes, and local requirements can be confusing, but it’s important to follow all of those requirements for the equipment you plan to install. Ask your product dealer to confirm that your products satisfy your local code authority.
- Get permits for the natural gas products you install. Your dealer or installer should know which permits you need and should provide you copies. The jurisdiction that issued the permit will inspect the installations.
- Armed with a little information and determination, you’ll soon be cookin’ with gas.
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Remodeling for Energy-efficiency
Remodeling is the perfect time to make some exciting and energy-efficient changes to your home. There are a lot of ways to increase your home’s energy-efficiency profile during a big makeover project. One of the chief ways is switching to natural gas, the cleanest burning fossil fuel.
- Switch to gas appliances. Rerouting or adding interior gas lines can be a hassle, but the costs are minimized during remodeling. If you already have gas appliances, consider switching to higher-efficiency models.
- A gas home heating system produces less carbon emissions than other home heating systems. A gas furnace produces warmer heat than an electric heat pump, so you can feel more comfortable more quickly.
- Natural gas is great for kitchen. Gas ranges get even heat, and have precise temperature control and on-off capability.
- Gas water heaters heat water twice as fast as electric units of comparable size, which means heating water with gas typically costs less than electric. It’s easy to find gas water heaters with Energy Star ratings, indicating high energy-efficiency.
- Try a natural gas dryer, which produces instant heat to dry clothes faster than electric. Drying with gas costs about half of drying using electricity. The heat remaining when the machine is shut off dissipates quickly, reducing wrinkling and static electricity. Additionally, many gas models have a moisture sensor that shuts off the dryer when the clothes are dry.
- Install a programmable thermostat, which will allow you to lower your home’s temperature automatically at night. You will typically save 1 percent on your heating bill for every degree you turn down your thermostat.
Take full advantage of your remodel to improve your energy-efficient and cut down on your home’s costs.
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What is Natural Gas?
While you might use natural gas every day, chances are you aren’t particularly familiar with this useful but mysterious substance. What is it exactly that brings that lovely flame to your burner and the warm water to your shower?
Natural gas is a mixture of hydrocarbons formed from the fossil remains of ancient plants and animals. It is mostly composed of methane, but also includes the other hydrocarbons ethane and propane. The fuel that is piped to you may also contain other gases like nitrogen, helium, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and water vapor.
Natural gas is safe (non-toxic, non-carcinogenic), clean (non-corrosive, minimally polluting to soil and water) and reliable (supplied through underground pipes that rarely lose service during a storm). We get most of our natural gas from gas and oil wells, with smaller quantities in such forms as synthetic gas, landfill gas, and coal-derived gas.
While gas burns hotter and brighter than other fossil fuels like coal and oil, it spews none of the messy smoke and soot that these tend to release. As a result, natural gas is a very popular fuel choice. According to the American Gas Association, natural gas companies provide service to more than 70 million residential customers around the country, delivering gas to customers through a safe and efficient two-million-mile underground piping system.
About a quarter of the energy used in the U.S. comes from natural gas, one third of which powers residences and commercial enterprises. Another third is put to industrial uses, and the final third assists in production of electric power. Natural gas vehicles are on the rise.
Gas is a relatively clean way to power our lives. Gas burned in power plants does produce nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide, but in smaller quantities than the result of burning coal or oil. Methane, which is a greenhouse gas, is released into the air when natural gas is not totally burned, and can also be leaked during transportation or from faulty equipment. Compared to the greenhouse gas impact of burning dirtier fossil fuels, however, natural gas is an earth-friendly option.
Interesting factoid: Since methane is odorless and colorless, gas companies must add an odor to keep customers safe from leaks. A chemical called mercaptan is added to give the gas its distinctive rotten-egg-like smell.
With safe, reliable, sustainable energy increasingly in demand, natural gas is at the forefront of satisfying our energy needs.
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