The United States is known for its robust economy, which is supported by mass consumerism. Americans use a ton of energy, too, annually burning through more gasoline than any other country. The same is true for natural gas, another common fuel.
While natural gas and gasoline have different uses, natural gas is far cleaner than gasoline. As a matter of fact, natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel.
Whether you use natural gas in your home, at your place of work, or don’t know anything about it, you should educate yourself about the increasingly popular energy source.
What Is Natural Gas?
Chemical analysis shows that, on average, natural gas has the following composition:
- Between 87% and 97% methane, though typically 94%.
- Between 1.5% and 9% ethane, though usually 4.2%.
- Up to 2% other substances, mainly nitrogen, propane, butane, pentane, carbon dioxide, and oxygen.
Natural gas is used all over the world to heat homes, create electricity, to manufacture products, and as fuel for lawn mowers, forklifts, and other small engines.
According to the natural gas price history, natural gas costs about $2 per gigajoule as of Jan. 2020. To provide context, the average American household spends about $660 to heat their homes with natural gas.
How Is Natural Gas Made?
As plants, animals, microorganisms, and other living things die, things like fungi break them down into smaller pieces. This process is called decomposition.
Most organic material becomes soil, though some become buried beneath the Earth’s surface.
Living things, of course, also accumulate on the seafloor. This organic material sometimes gets buried under sand, silt, and sediment. Over many millions of years, such remains can get buried thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface.
Eventually, as a result of heat from the mantle and the pressure of the ocean, fossil fuels like natural gas and petroleum form.
Drilling rigs, both in the ocean and on land, drill anywhere from a half-mile to five miles down into the Earth to strike fossil fuels. Initially, fossil fuels readily flow out of reservoirs and into rigs. Soon enough, drillers will pressurize reservoirs using liquids or gases, causing the remaining fossil fuels to come to the surface.
After collection, natural gas is processed in refining facilities using various chemical processes. Although natural gas is naturally cleaner than petroleum, it still can’t be used by humans until it’s been cleaned.
From there, natural gas is primarily transported to consumers by direct underground pipelines.
About Renewable Energy
There are two types of energy: renewable and nonrenewable. All fossil fuels (e.g., coal, oil) are nonrenewable.
Although the Earth is currently forming fossil fuels like natural gas right now, the production cycle takes millions of years to complete, if not hundreds of millions of years. As such, it’s reasonable to classify gasoline, natural gas, and other fossil fuels as nonrenewable sources of energy.
Eventually, humans won’t have any fossil fuels to use. It’s very important for humans to begin devising and implementing ways of efficiently using renewable sources of energy to fuel vehicles, create electricity, and heat homes.
Nonrenewable energy is worse for the environment than its renewable counterpart. However, of all forms of nonrenewable energy, natural gas is the cleanest.
Energy Saving Tips
Whether you use natural gas or not, you should try to conserve energy. The less energy people use, the less greenhouse gases released into the environment. Thus, the better off future generations will be. Here are some tips anybody can take advantage of to use less natural gas to heat your home:
- During the daytime, open blinds and use sunlight to heat your home.
- Never block vents heating and cooling vents.
- Dress more appropriately (e.g., during winter, wear warm clothes inside).
How to Save Money on Your Electric Bill
Saving money on your electricity bill is closely tied to conserving energy. However, while the above tips are geared towards reducing the consumption of natural gas used by fireplaces, central heating systems, and the like, the following ideas are specifically for forking less money over to your electricity provider.
Change out incandescent bulbs in favor of LED bulbs. This reduces the consumption of electricity by up to 80%. Although LED bulbs aren’t free, they last longer than incandescent bulbs, saving you money in the long run. They’re also less likely to cause fires.
Weather-strips are small pieces of rubber that can easily, affordably fill in cracks that let in outside air. Installing weatherstrips around windows and doors saves money and is easy to do.
Programmable thermostats help reduce money spent on ventilating homes. By keeping spaces at a steady temperature around the clock as opposed to not using heating or cooling during the day while you’re at work, causing you to come home to an uncomfortably hot or cold house, you’ll save money, not to mention more comfortable.
Those Are the Basics of Natural Gas
Natural gas is widely popular and is a fine alternative to existing fossil fuels. Although humans likely won’t use natural gas forever, it’s certain to remain in homes, schools, businesses, and every other structure for many decades to come.