I have a bad habit that has to change next cold weather season. I don’t like being cold. I grew up in a house that only had wood heat and I love, love, love central forced air heating systems. I still get a little thrill when I bump the thermostat to up from 68 to 72 and hear the system fire up and kick out some lovely warm air, no logs required.
Needless to say, our natural gas bill really spikes during the cold months. We have only two systems in our house powered by natural gas: our furnace and our dual-fuel stove. We used to also have a gas hot water heater, but when our old hot water heater died last year, we replaced it with a Marathon electric hot water heater, which is supposed to be pretty efficient. With our cooking levels being pretty consistent throughout the year, our natural gas bill is all about how we use our furnace.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I haven’t been too sure what to think of natural gas as an energy source. I found some good, high-level information at the Low Impact Living site. The article, “The Story Behind Natural Gas,” had just the information I was looking for, with the crux of the issue being two points: 1. Natural gas burns more cleanly than other fossil fuels, but 2. It still contributes carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and we should work to limit consumption. If you need a primer on natural gas, as I did, the Low Impact Living article is a good place to start.
Based on the Low Impact Living site assessment of natural gas, did we make the right choice moving to an electric hot water heater? For the short-term, probably not, since the article does recommend moving to (and not away from) natural gas usage over electricity usage. However, if we look at this decision over the next few years it will likely be the right move for us since we plan to invest in solar energy to power our house.
But that will be a few years out. Our immediate challenge ahead when the cold sets in will be to play around with our programmable thermostat and see if we can optimize it better for when we are home and away. Then, of course, I’ll just need to keep my mitts off the the thing and resist hitting the up arrow key and resetting it to my favorite, 72 degrees.