Andrew dropped by my desk the other day with a story he had come across in the printed version of the Post. It was a Slate article titled, “How to Buy the Greenest Beans: should I get dry bags or the canned kind?” by Nina Shen Rastogi. The story is an excellent analysis of the carbon footprint of canned beans as opposed to dry bagged beans.
You’ll enjoy reading the article’s analysis between the two (I won’t spoil the ending) but what struck me were some points that AGA tries to make on a daily basis were exhibited perfectly here.
Take a look at this passage where the author begins to talk about cooking the beans. “Cooking dried beans at a simmer on the stovetop—the most common method—can require anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours, even after a lengthy presoak. Based on some recorded energy figures provided by food researchers at the University of Bristol, cooking five ounces of beans for that long might require 1,400 to 5,600 BTUs on a gas stovetop or 4,100 to 16,500 BTUs on an electric stovetop.”
Read that again. “1,400 to 5,600 BTUs on a gas stovetop versus 4,100 to 16,500 BTUs on an electric stovetop.” That’s a big difference.
Have you heard about the concept of “direct use?” Natural gas loses about 10 percent of its useable energy in the journey from wellhead to burner tip, making natural gas 90 percent efficient when used in typical household appliances. Compare that to electricity which loses almost 70 percent of its useable energy during delivery. And because natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel, in addition to the efficiency gains, the direct use of natural gas would actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Speaking of efficiency. Did you know that since 1970 the number of residential customers has increased by 71 percent to 27 million but total residential natural gas use has not increased? This means there has been a decrease in use per residential customer of about 1 percent per year for the last 38 years. In other words, the average natural gas residential customer today uses 39 percent less natural gas than they did 38 years ago. This translates directly into greenhouse gas emissions reductions on the order of 38 percent per residential customers. Check out these slides available online.
So, if you really want to go “green,” you may want to consider using high-efficiency natural gas appliances in your home and swap out your electric appliances where you can.