Those are the three simple words that capture why natural gas should be a significant part of our energy portfolio today and in the future. And it is not just because December 21 is the first official day of winter and there is nothing like natural gas to heat your home. In “Game of Thrones” there are several families vying to be king of all kingdoms. But what Jon Snow realizes is that instead of fighting each other, they need to be together fighting a common enemy, the White Walkers, who threaten all their existences.
And much like in the lands of the Westeros, there is a common misconception that the many sources of energy in the United States should be fighting for supremacy. That is unproductive and unrealistic. Rather, our focus should be on working together towards our mutual interest for a cleaner energy economy. Reliable, resilient, efficient, safe and affordable energy is core to Americans’ quality of life and we should all combine forces to work against anything that threatens that end. Winter is coming. And if we do this right, with the ability to make environmentally friendly choices that do not sacrifice reliability, resiliency, safety and affordability, it is the customer who should end up in the throne.
Natural gas is a foundation fuel and has been the key to unlocking the most substantial greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the nation’s history by reducing the use of coal for making electricity and facilitating growth in renewables. Electricity generators have chosen natural gas for its affordability and reliability, often replacing coal-fired power plants and emitting up to 56 percent less greenhouse gases than coal for the same amount of electricity. Between 2007 and 2015, the amount of electricity generated at coal-fired power plants declined more than 30 percent. Natural gas and renewables have filled that gap, with natural gas providing about two-thirds of the electricity to plug the hole left by coal; renewables made up the other third.
But the direct use of natural gas for heating, cooking and clothes drying is even cleaner. From the place where it is extracted from the ground, to appliances in your home, natural gas achieves 92 percent energy efficiency. When you factor in energy use and emissions along the full fuel cycle, households with natural gas versus all-electric appliances produce 37 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions.
More homes and businesses use natural gas today than ever before: 177 million Americans, due in large part to its affordable and stable prices. Those that use natural gas for heating, cooking and clothes drying save an average of $874 per year compared to homes using electricity for those applications. Low domestic natural gas prices have led to savings of almost $50 billion for customers who have used natural gas for heating, cooking and clothes drying over the past four years.
Not to mention, the natural gas delivery system is remarkably resilient and natural gas utilities plan throughout the year to prepared for the coldest days. Even during the Polar Vortex natural gas customers remained warm and toasty.