The cover story for the November issue of American Gas magazine describes the wide variety of new, highly efficient and environmentally friendly ways natural gas can be used in our homes, businesses and industries, be it heating our water, heating our homes, providing on site generated electricity, cooking our food and more. The story is written by David Weiss, who runs the Energy Solutions Center (ESC), which is located in AGA’s headquarters here in Washington, D.C., and which concentrates on solving energy challenges by matching the right natural gas end-use product with a particular energy need. The story is a timely one for several reasons, not the least of which is that growing natural gas demand in the end-use market has become a very high priority for the natural gas utility industry.
The story cites several examples of the new natural gas end-use equipment that is now available, including natural gas water heaters that use up to 40 percent less energy than standard models, or gas “tankless” water heaters that, among other features, allow consumers to save energy and money by setting their water heater temperatures depending on the need—higher temperatures for washing clothes, for example, lower for washing dishes. There are even hybrid water heaters that use solar energy (at no cost) to heat water during the day and natural gas to heat water at night or when it’s cloudy.
Natural gas space heating is another major market, and new equipment includes condensing furnaces that are more than 90 percent efficient, and micro-combined heat-and-power units that can provide homes with gas-generated electricity and also use the waste heat generated to meet a variety of home heating needs. While expensive, these micro-CHP units provide energy more reliably, in a greener way, and at lower costs.
The ESC even has ways to keep us healthy. Flu season is upon us, and according to many scientists dry air can cause nasal and throat membranes to dry out, making us more susceptible to colds and viruses. One solution is a highly efficient natural gas-fired humidifier, which means better indoor air quality, which means healthier families in the home, and healthier employees at work.
Speaking of work, any professional chef will tell you that natural gas is the preferred energy for cooking, even more so today thanks to highly efficient natural gas-fired combi ovens, which are compact, meaning they are easier to fit in crowded commercial kitchens. Yet while they have shrunk in size, their combination of moisture and heat actually reduces the amount of shrinkage during the cooking of meat, meaning higher yields and bigger profits.
These and many other highly efficient, green and innovative technological solutions to virtually all of our energy needs in the home and business are described in David’s story, which I would highly recommend. You can also learn more about the ESC and the energy solutions it offers by visiting www.energysolutionscenter.org.