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Natural Gas Q&A with a Shipley Energy Expert

Natural Gas Q&A Session with a Shipley Energy Expert

Shipley Energy has been a natural gas provider for decades and over that time we’ve received a lot of questions from consumers. It’s our goal to provide the communities we serve with the knowledge they need to make the best decision when it comes to energy for their household. That’s why we’ve put together a list of answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about natural gas!

What does natural gas smell like & what should I do if I smell it in my home?

Natural gas is one of the cleanest fossil fuels you can use to heat your home. Natural gas can also be used to power gas appliances like stoves and water heaters. Natural gas is odorless, so mercaptan (a harmless substance) is added so leaks can be detected. Natural gas leaks are detected using sight, sound, and smell. Which is different than other methods such as smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors.

A natural gas leak can smell like rotten eggs. If you live in a home that uses natural gas and you suddenly notice a hint of eggs or cabbage, you could have a natural gas leak. Aside from smell, there are a few other factors that can help you detect a natural gas leak. These include bubbling of standing water around outdoor gas lines, hissing sounds coming from gas lines, or dead plants in your yard.

There are three steps you can take to keep you and your household safe if you detect a natural gas leak.

Step 1: Determine location of leak. If you have detected that the smell is inside, follow the directions outlined in step 2. If the smell of natural gas or you’ve detected other effects of a natural gas leak outside your home, DO NOT try to locate the source yourself. Alert other household members and evacuate the premises. Do not operate vehicles or powered equipment.

Step 2: Determine strength of smell. If the smell of natural gas is mild, you should open the windows in your home, turn off the pilot light in your furnace or water heater, and put out any candles. After you have done this, evacuate your home. Do not flip light switches on or off, don’t use electronics, don’t use the doorbell, and don’t adjust thermostats or appliance controls. If the smell of natural gas is overpowering or if you or anyone in your household has symptoms of nausea or headaches, leave your home and area immediately.

Step 3: Call the gas utility and emergency services. After you’ve detected the signs of a natural gas leak and have evacuated your home, you should call your natural gas utility and contact local authorities. DO NOT call from inside your home. Use a neighbors phone or your cell phone outside and away from the home.

What is carbon neutral natural gas?

What does “carbon neutral” mean?

Carbon neutral simply means that the emissions produced by fueling your home with natural gas are balanced by verified carbon offset projects.

How do carbon offsets work?

When you choose to purchase carbon neutral natural gas, you fund projects that actively remove or prevent an equal amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases from being released into the air.

We have a whole blog on this topic. Check it out here: shipleyenergy.com/resources/green/what-is-carbon-neutral-natural-gas

What causes the price of natural gas to fluctuate?

The short answer to this question is that natural gas prices are dependent on market supply and demand. Natural gas alternatives are limited. This means that any changes in the supply or demand for natural gas can result in significant price changes.

On the supply side Gas production, oil production, and underground storage levels effect natural gas prices. If supply is restricted and demand stays the same, prices will increase. If there is a surplus of supply and storage is plenty, prices may decrease.

On the demand side Weather, exports, economic conditions, and alternative fuel prices effect natural gas prices. There is only so much natural gas available, so if demand increases, so might the price and if demand decreases, the price of natural gas may decrease as well.

Natural gas prices also effect the price of other energy sources like electricity and coal.

Is it possible to run out of natural gas, like how the earth has a limited supply of oil?

Natural gas is a fossil fuel and like all fossil fuels, they have an expiration date. According to Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior (MAHB), the world’s natural gas supply will run out by 2060. The U.S. Energy Information Association (EIA) said in 2019 that the United States has enough natural gas to last another 84 years.

Of course, the actual lifespan of natural gas depends on demand and how much is produced.

What is liquefied natural gas (LNG)?

Liquefied natural gas is the form that is delivered to your home through underground gas lines. It’s a form of natural gas that has been cooled to -260 degrees Fahrenheit, changing it from a gas to a liquid. Liquefied natural gas is 1/600th of it’s original volume as a gas. This allows for more natural gas to be stored in a smaller area.

Liquefied natural gas is odorless and colorless. It’s typically made up of 85-95% methane, which contains less carbon than other forms of fossil fuels. Depending on sourcing and processing, it can also contain small amounts of ethane, propane, butane, and nitrogen.

How many people in the U.S. use natural gas?

Natural gas comprises almost 1/4th of all primary energy used in the U.S. This is the equivalent of more than 72 million natural gas customers. Nearly 66.7 million homes and over 5.4 million businesses use natural gas. On average, the U.S. home uses 196 cubic feet of natural gas a day.

When is the best time to purchase natural gas?

Natural gas utilities offer variable rates that change throughout the year. Utility pricing is impacted by supply and demand, weather and more. Natural gas suppliers offer fixed pricing, allowing you to lock in a rate for a contracted time period, protecting you from market volatility.

Natural gas prices are typically higher in the winter and lower in the summer. This is because natural gas demand is higher in the winter. This makes the best time to buy natural gas between March and April. This is when pricing is more likely to fall to it’s lowest. Additionally, September and October may also be good months to lock in a fixed natural gas rate, as demand has not risen yet and pre-winter pricing may still be in effect.

Don’t see your question here? Let us know what you’d like answered!