AGA Report: Natural Gas is the Best Heating Choice for Consumers

Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) today announced its 2013 residential space and water heating cost estimates, which demonstrate how using natural gas may cost less than other major home energy sources. According to estimates, customers can save up to $1200 on space heating and almost $300 on water heating costs annually by choosing natural gas appliances. The cost comparisons are based on the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Representative Average Unit Costs of Energy notice as published in the Federal Register on March 22, 2013.

“This forecast gives customers a clear picture of the difference they can see in their wallet when they choose to heat their homes and warm their water with natural gas,” said AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy. “Every day, America’s natural gas utilities are helping their customers achieve energy savings by delivering the most affordable, efficient, and clean domestically-produced fuel on the market. This is a dollars and cents picture of the benefits natural gas can bring to our nation.”

A piece of equipment with a higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating provides greater savings for customers. For example, a 97 percent AFUE natural gas furnace provides the lowest-cost space heating option for homeowners, followed by an 80 percent AFUE natural gas furnace. Both offer significant annual operating cost savings over comparable space heating options.

The tables below demonstrate estimated cost comparisons for home and water heating devices.

SPACE HEATING ANALYSIS SUMMARY: The space heating analysis is based on a 2,072 square foot house located in St. Louis and represents a 5,000 Heating Degree Day location. The house meets the energy conservation provisions in the 2012 International Residential Code and the space heating equipment is selected from the AHRI online directory. The 97 percent AFUE natural gas furnace provides the lowest annual operating cost followed by the 80 percent AFUE gas furnace.


2013 Space Heating Annual Cost Summary

(Annual Operating Cost)


Heating Equipment Type 5000 Heating Degree Days
97% AFUE Gas Furnace $524
80% AFUE Gas Furnace $689
7.7 HSPF Electric Heat Pump $1,005
97% AFUE Propane Furnace $1,246
87% AFUE Oil Furnace $1,518
80% AFUE Propane Furnace $1,588
80% AFUE Oil Furnace $1,632
Electric Resistance Furnace $1,725


WATER HEATER ANALYSIS SUMMARY: The water heater analysis is based on the equivalent First Hour Rating (FHR), national average energy usage, and the 2013 energy costs as published by DOE. A natural gas 40-gallon and an electric 50-gallon, both conventional storage types, are chosen based on their FHR. The natural gas water heater would provide the lowest annual operating cost.


2013 Water Heating Annual Cost Summary

(Annual Operating Cost from Low to High)


Water Heater Type Annual Cost
50 Gallon Natural Gas (FHR = 74 gallons) $265
50 Gallon Electric (FHR = 67 gallons) $562


COMBINATION SPACE HEATING AND WATER HEATER INSTALLATION: Based on the annual cost analysis for space heating and water heaters, the combination of a natural gas 97% AFUE furnace and storage water heater provides the lowest operating cost space/water heating package.


2013 Space Heating with Water Heater Installations

(Annual Operating Cost from Low to High)


Space Heating/ Water Heating Type Annual Cost
Natural Gas: 97% AFUE Furnace & Water Heater $789
Natural Gas: 80% AFUE & Water Heater $954
Electric: Heat Pump & Water Heater $1,567


Japan is first to tap methane hydrates

Methane hydrates are sometimes held up as the holy grail when we talk about potential energy resources. These deposits are stored as a frozen mix of methane and water in deep ocean pockets in every ocean, in total they are estimated to contain up to twice as much energy as all other existing energy reserves worldwide.

However, there’s one problem when we talk about bringing methane hydrates to market, no one has ever managed to extract the gas from these icy deposits. That could be about to change, today Japanese researchers announced they have tapped a methane hydrate deposit off their coast. Japan has plenty of motivation to seek out hydrate deposits, as the article explains:

The gas, whose extraction from the undersea hydrate was thought to be a world first, could provide an alternative source of energy to known oil and gas reserves. That could be crucial especially for Japan, which is the world’s biggest importer of liquefied natural gas and is engaged in an anguished public debate about whether to resume the country’s heavy reliance on nuclear power.

Something to keep an eye on, stay tuned!

To see what a methane hydrate looks like in action, here’s a video of a lab synthesized hydrate being set alight, there aren’t too many things neater than burning ice:


Natural Gas Utilities: Protecting Infrastructure From Emerging Threats

Washington, D.C. – While the U.S. House and Senate hold hearings on cybersecurity, the American Gas Association (AGA) Cybersecurity Strategy Task Force (CSTF) met in Albuquerque, NM continuing its work to help minimize cyber vulnerabilities or potential cyber-related disruptions of the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas to customers.

“America’s natural gas utilities are actively protecting the more than 2.4 million miles of pipelines that carry this clean energy source to homes and business throughout the United States,” said Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of AGA. “Natural gas is the foundation fuel for our nation’s energy future and that means maintaining constant vigilance against emerging threats. This is being addressed at every level within our member companies from information technology professionals to the CEOs who have received classified briefings from top intelligence and cybersecurity professionals within the U.S. Government. The safety of our natural gas infrastructure is our top priority.”

AGA and its membership have been involved in cybersecurity programs for more than ten years and are currently taking part in a number of cybersecurity initiatives. In addition to engaging in an open and collaborative process with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), AGA’s Cybersecurity Strategy Task Force has developed an action plan to help reduce the threat of a cybersecurity attack and a lay out a plan of action moving forward. The three-points included in the plan include: cyber risk management to evaluate how cyber-related threats could be exploited and to assess the industry’s capabilities to manage against these threats; increase cybersecurity education and awareness across the industry; and, advocacy through outreach to Legislative and Executive Branch stakeholders and state regulators.

McCurdy continued: “Ensuring the protection and resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure is a shared responsibility among multiple stakeholders. The ongoing public-private partnerships between industry and government foster information exchange in a community of dedicated professionals aware of malicious tactics, threats and risks. Continued information sharing and collaboration with government partners are key tools in the industry’s work to combat cyber threats.”

AGA participates in public-private partnerships through working sessions and classified meetings with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, DHS Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, National Security Agency, Transportation Security Administration, White House National Security Staff and others to share information, work through threat scenarios and develop and implement strategies that help reduce and mitigate the impacts of a cyber attack.

Natural Gas Term of the Week: 811

What it means: A national, federally mandated “call before you dig” number available to anyone. Calling 811 before digging alerts your local “one call” center about your plans to dig and sends out qualified professionals to mark the underground utilities in your planned digging area at no cost.

See it in action: August 11 reminds us to dig safely; so what better term to start us off than 811. Digging without knowing what’s underground is a common and avoidable cause of damage to underground utilities, including gas transmission and distribution pipelines.

When should you call 811? It’s always better to be safe than sorry, even when planting in your garden a call to 811 can help save you from avoidable property damage or serious injury. For more information go to


Natural Gas Term of the Week: City Gate

What it means: A point or measuring station at which a gas distribution company receives gas from a pipeline company or transmission system.

See it in action: The city gate serves an important role in the natural gas distribution network, as the point where gas leaves the long distance transportation system for the lower pressure, more diffuse, systems of local distribution companies (LDCs) who deliver the gas directly to your home or business. Typically city gates have a predetermined required pressure range for the gas to be handed over to the local system. It is also where the odorant, mercaptan, is added to the gas, giving it that distinctive rotten egg smell.

Natural Gas Terms of the Week are posted each Monday, check back weekly to boost your natural gas IQ.

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NWGA Gets a Mention in The Economist

In case you missed it, NWGA Executive Director, Dan Kirschner, was mentioned in “The Economist” last week, discussing hydraulic fracturing and the Western U.S.

So pull that February 16 issue off your bedside table and give it a read. If you aren’t a subscriber you can read the full article by clicking here.

The continued move toward more efficient production of natural gas from shale has been a big topic at recent NWGA presentations. Water can cost anywhere from $.15 to $15 a barrel to use in the production process so continued reductions in freshwater usage, either through recycling used water for reuse, utilizing waste or brackish water, or even waterless fracturing makes a lot of sense for producers.

Here’s the portion of the article that mentions Dan:

Meanwhile, the technology that kick-started the revolution marches on. Some speak excitedly of fracking that uses saline rather than fresh water, or no water at all. The industry has moved so quickly in recent years, says Dan Kirschner of the Northwest Gas Association, a trade body, that it is starting to seem odd to call shale resources “unconventional”.

FortisBC awards an initial $6 million to convert fleets to natural gas, with further incentives to follow

SURREY, B.C.- Communities around the province will soon see more natural gas-powered vehicles on the road after FortisBC awarded approximately $6 million in incentives to transportation operators to purchase compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled vehicles for their fleets.

“These organizations have shown a commitment to choosing natural gas as a transportation fuel solution,” said Doug Stout, vice president of energy solutions and external relations at FortisBC.

“Building on the initial successes we’ve had with natural gas vehicles and the benefits they bring to the environment and our gas customers, this program is making widespread use of natural gas for transportation a reality.”

The program was made possible following the creation of the Government of B.C.’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction regulation.

“The government of B.C. is committed to ensuring natural gas is a significant part of the transportation sector because it is cheaper, cleaner and abundant in B.C.,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Mary Polak. “This new program will help encourage more transportation companies to use natural gas as the transportation fuel choice of the future.”

A total of approximately $6 million for CNG vehicles was awarded to the following vehicle fleet operators:

  • BC Transit – $937,500
  • BFI Canada – $937,958
  • City of Vancouver – $1,854,600
  • Cold Star Freight System Inc. – $450,997
  • Emterra Environmental – $745,500
  • School District No. 23 (Kelowna) – $67,893
  • Smithrite Disposal Ltd. – $953,775

The incentives were granted through a public and transparent selection process. The $6 million awarded is part of a $104.5 million program announced in May 2012 to assist qualifying heavy-duty fleet operators to purchase natural gas vehicles. The $104.5 million will help offset the cost of switching fleets to natural gas, fund training and upgrades to facilities to safely maintain natural gas vehicles, and to build CNG or liquid natural gas (LNG) fuelling stations.

In addition to decreased greenhouse gas emissions and noise, refuelling for CNG vehicles is estimated to be 25 to 50 per cent less expensive than refuelling traditional diesel vehicles due to the current difference in prices.

Under the program, FortisBC provides funding to offset a percentage of the incremental capital cost between a qualifying natural gas vehicle and the cost of an equivalent diesel vehicle. Depending on the agreement, FortisBC could fund up to 75 per cent of the incremental cost of the natural gas vehicles.

Rounds of funding will continue over the next four years, with the next round beginning April, 2013. Eligible heavy-duty fleet operators can learn more by emailing to receive updates or by visiting

FortisBC gas utility customers benefit from additional volumes of natural gas for transportation moving through FortisBC’s pipeline system. Better year-round, utilization of FortisBC’s infrastructure, especially during the summer months when heating requirements are reduced, helps to keep natural gas delivery rates low for all customers.