What Is Natural Gas Used for In Homes?
The three most common uses for natural gas in the home are: 1.) heating to keep the inside air temperature comfy; 2.) heating water; and 3.) cooking. Today, more than half of the new homes built each year use natural gas as their heat source. And it’s easy to see why. Natural gas is a more affordable heating option than many forms of electric heat, and unlike other heating fuels like propane or oil, it doesn’t require a tank to be filled—it’s piped directly to your home.
Many chefs and home cooks prefer natural gas for cooking at home. In fact, one survey showed 96 out of 100 of chefs prefer a gas cooktop. While propane is used for many outdoor grills, natural gas is used for cooking with gas stovetops, ranges, and ovens.
Natural gas is a mixture of hydrocarbons, which is mostly made up of methane (CH4). The reason so many people prefer natural gas for cooking is that it produces high heat and is immediately responsive to being dialed up or down as you cook.
But there are many more uses for natural gas beyond heating and cooking. Other popular uses for gas around the house include running gas-powered dryers, gas fireplaces, and natural gas stoves. There are also several residential uses for natural gas just outside the home, including fueling outdoor gas grills and lighting gas lanterns.
Natural Gas Safety at Home
There are many reasons to get your HVAC system checked regularly when using natural gas in your home, but safety is No. 1. It’s recommended to have a qualified technician check your system at least once a year, preferably before it gets cold out, to make sure everything is operating the way it should. Aside from any potential safety issues, this will also ensure your system is working as efficiently as possible, which will save you money on your heating bill and help prevent costly breakdowns. A properly working HVAC system will also help keep the air in your home cleaner, as it helps filter allergens and other pollutants.
Additionally, you may want to have a technician take a look at any other natural gas appliances in the home, especially if it’s been a while since you last used them. It’s likely your water heater is always on, but gas-burning fireplaces, for example, may have not been used in months, so it makes sense to have them inspected.
It’s also helpful to know where your natural gas shut off valve is, in the unlikely event of an emergency leak or a severe weather event. Remember, if you ever smell natural gas in your home, leave immediately and call 911. Never try to diagnose a natural gas leak on your own.
Reading Your Meter and Understanding Your Bill
Your gas bill may not be your favorite thing you receive in the mail (or email, if you’re paperless!) but it can tell you a lot about how you’re using natural gas at home. We’ve put together guides for knowing how to read your natural gas bill and read your natural gas meter. Once you understand those fundamentals, you can easily reference your bill to keep an eye on your usage.
A seasonal uptick in the winter is to be expected, but a spike in your bill can also mean something else is up. For example, if your fixed rate plan expires, you’ll automatically switch to a variable rate plan to keep natural gas flowing to your home. This can mean a pretty big jump in cost, especially in the winter when rates per-therm are high. At Gas South, we try to avoid those unplanned switches and will send you multiple reminders to renew your natural gas plan, but if you see a bigger than expected change in your bill, you may want to double-check your rate.
All this billing talk making your head spin? We also offer our OnePrice Plan®, which guarantees you pay one price every month.
Reducing Your Bills and Saving Energy
At Gas South, we’re committed to helping preserve the future of the planet. Using natural gas in a responsible way not only helps keep costs low for you, but it helps create a greener future for us all. Looking for more ways to save energy around the house? You may often think that winter energy bills spike just because of the cold, but the holidays can drive up those expenses, too! Check out these tips for saving energy over the holiday season.