Direct Use of Natural Gas

The Importance of the Direct Use of Natural Gas

Customers appreciate efficient, affordable and reliable natural gas. By using natural gas directly, it also has the potential to protect our environment, boost our economy and move our nation toward energy independence.

What is Direct Use?

Focusing on appliance efficiency only reveals part of the energy-use picture. To get the whole picture, it’s important to look at what’s called the full fuel cycle. That means understanding how much energy is retained — or lost — from the energy’s source until its final use in your heating system, water heater or cooktop.

And with the full fuel cycle in mind, direct use of natural gas comes out a winner in the energy efficiency race.

For instance, by the time you turn on your electric appliance, the majority of the energy value from the original fuel has been lost. So the full fuel cycle efficiency is about 32 percent. The full fuel cycle efficiency of a natural gas appliance is about 92 percent — a substantial difference.

Here’s how it works

Even with advances in renewable power, most electricity in the U.S. is generated by either coal or natural gas

  • We lose about 5 percent of the energy benefits of those fuels during the transportation process — before they arrive at the power plant.
  • The major energy loss occurs during generation. Burning a fuel to create electricity wastes about 64 percent of its energy. That lost energy turns into heat, rather than useful power.
  • Finally, we lose another 6 percent of the energy over the electric transmission lines.

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The Benefits of the Direct Use of Natural Gas

According to the study, “Fueling the Future with Natural Gas: Bringing it Home,” published by IHS CERA with support from the American Gas Foundation:

  • Natural gas prices are expected to remain in the $4-5 per mmBtu range on average through 2035.
  • Switching to a natural gas-heated home saves U.S. consumers more than $5,700 on average over 15 years.
  • Lower natural gas prices provided an increase in real disposable income per household of approximately $1,200 in 2012. This will steadily increase to $2,000 in 2015 and more than $3,500 by 2025.
  • Households with natural gas heating, cooking and clothes drying spend an average of $654 less annually than households using electricity for the same appliances.
  • A natural gas vehicle will save you an average of $4,500 in fuel costs over five years compared to a gasoline vehicle.

Since many existing natural gas policies were developed when natural gas was perceived to be scare and when market fundamentals were different, our nation’s new reality of affordable, abundant natural gas requires new thinking.

Re-evaluating national and local policies will help identify new opportunities, allowing our communities to realize the full potential of a natural gas-fueled future.

Learn more about the efficiency of natural gas in this video.