Author Topic: Do I have to set up natural gas?  (Read 763 times)

ana-stache-ia

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Do I have to set up natural gas?
« on: September 28, 2020, 09:44:05 PM »
Hello,

It's my first time buying a house! I'm just setting up utilities and have this basic question that I can't find the answer to online. Do I have to set up natural gas? My appliances are electric. I'd prefer to save the money and worry less about gas leaks. I can't tell if it's the type of utility that everyone needs to pay into to keep it running?

Thank you!

secondcor521

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2020, 10:16:42 PM »
Around here, natural gas is used in the central furnace for most homes.  People also like to pipe it around to their back patios and hook up their propane barbecues so they don't have to mess with propane tanks.  Some people also run the line into their kitchen for their gas stoves.  In all cases it's a utility that is run down the center of the street and pipes are run to the side of people's garages, where there is a natural gas meter.

If your house doesn't use natural gas, then it's probably not even connected to the main natural gas lines in the street, and there would be no need to set it up.  If you don't want to use natural gas, then you wouldn't have to "pay into it"...at least not around here.

Does your house have a natural gas meter?  How does your house provide heat?  There are electric heat pumps that are used elsewhere in the country, but they're not popular around here.


Paper Chaser

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2020, 02:58:41 AM »
Definitely confirm that the house has a gas meter. If it does, then there's very likely something there that uses gas. Non-obvious gas users would be things like the water heater, furnace, clothes dryer, etc. If there's natural gas connection (the presence of a meter would indicate this) but no gas being used, I can't imagine you'd need to do anything unless the utility company owns the meter and charges a fee or something.

It obviously varies a ton, but natural gas is often cheaper to use than electric, so it may be worth converting some of the appliances as they age out if gas is an option.

Is it possible to ask the previous owners to see their utility bills/usage? That would also let you know.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2020, 03:05:36 AM by Paper Chaser »

nereo

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2020, 05:29:43 AM »
Hello,

It's my first time buying a house! I'm just setting up utilities and have this basic question that I can't find the answer to online. Do I have to set up natural gas? My appliances are electric. I'd prefer to save the money and worry less about gas leaks. I can't tell if it's the type of utility that everyone needs to pay into to keep it running?

Thank you!

First - no - you do not have to be connected to natural gas.  Plenty of homes are not, though itís highly region specific.

Second - curious that you worry about gas leaks abut not electrical fires. Gas leaks within the home are rare and immediately noticeable (olfactory).  Gas companies have installed sophisticated monitoring that detects if thereís a leak and will shut off your line if detected (ask how I know!). 
OTOH electrical fires from electrical appliances are one of the most common sources of house fires.

Donít misunderstand... in the grand scheme of things both are very safe, but donít assume you lessen the risk by choosing one over the other.

Montecarlo

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2020, 05:39:44 AM »

First - no - you do not have to be connected to natural gas.  Plenty of homes are not, though itís highly region specific.

Second - curious that you worry about gas leaks abut not electrical fires. Gas leaks within the home are rare and immediately noticeable (olfactory).  Gas companies have installed sophisticated monitoring that detects if thereís a leak and will shut off your line if detected (ask how I know!). 
OTOH electrical fires from electrical appliances are one of the most common sources of house fires.

Donít misunderstand... in the grand scheme of things both are very safe, but donít assume you lessen the risk by choosing one over the other.

How do you know?

nereo

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2020, 07:08:13 AM »

First - no - you do not have to be connected to natural gas.  Plenty of homes are not, though itís highly region specific.

Second - curious that you worry about gas leaks abut not electrical fires. Gas leaks within the home are rare and immediately noticeable (olfactory).  Gas companies have installed sophisticated monitoring that detects if thereís a leak and will shut off your line if detected (ask how I know!). 
OTOH electrical fires from electrical appliances are one of the most common sources of house fires.

Donít misunderstand... in the grand scheme of things both are very safe, but donít assume you lessen the risk by choosing one over the other.

How do you know?

How do I know what?  About residential fire danger?  Well my ex dealt with residential insurance law, but you can also take a look at the NFPA which lists electrical appliances and electrical wiring in their top sources of residential fires.  Fires from gas leaks doesn't even make the list.  of course there are the statistical caveats - not all homes have natural gas (but essentially all are electrified). Another line of evidence is reflected in home insurance rates, which don't discount all-electric homes over those which have natural gas appliances.  In the world of insurance  actuators, increased risks are reflected in premiums.

Still - my broader point to the OP is: opting for electrical appliances over natural gas won't necessarily reduce your risk.

Fishindude

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2020, 07:12:47 AM »
Hello,

It's my first time buying a house! I'm just setting up utilities and have this basic question that I can't find the answer to online. Do I have to set up natural gas? My appliances are electric. I'd prefer to save the money and worry less about gas leaks. I can't tell if it's the type of utility that everyone needs to pay into to keep it running?

Thank you!

If you really want to save money, in most instances natural gas (if available) is much cheaper for heating water, heating your home and running your clothes dryer.   It's also preferred by most for cook stoves.
The realtors listing sheet should pretty clearly tell you if the furnace and water heater are gas or electric.


Montecarlo

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2020, 08:28:32 AM »

First - no - you do not have to be connected to natural gas.  Plenty of homes are not, though itís highly region specific.

Second - curious that you worry about gas leaks abut not electrical fires. Gas leaks within the home are rare and immediately noticeable (olfactory).  Gas companies have installed sophisticated monitoring that detects if thereís a leak and will shut off your line if detected (ask how I know!). 
OTOH electrical fires from electrical appliances are one of the most common sources of house fires.

Donít misunderstand... in the grand scheme of things both are very safe, but donít assume you lessen the risk by choosing one over the other.

How do you know?

How do I know what?  About residential fire danger?  Well my ex dealt with residential insurance law, but you can also take a look at the NFPA which lists electrical appliances and electrical wiring in their top sources of residential fires.  Fires from gas leaks doesn't even make the list.  of course there are the statistical caveats - not all homes have natural gas (but essentially all are electrified). Another line of evidence is reflected in home insurance rates, which don't discount all-electric homes over those which have natural gas appliances.  In the world of insurance  actuators, increased risks are reflected in premiums.

Still - my broader point to the OP is: opting for electrical appliances over natural gas won't necessarily reduce your risk.

About how gas leaks are detected (your post asked us to ask you!)

nereo

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2020, 08:40:48 AM »

First - no - you do not have to be connected to natural gas.  Plenty of homes are not, though itís highly region specific.

Second - curious that you worry about gas leaks abut not electrical fires. Gas leaks within the home are rare and immediately noticeable (olfactory).  Gas companies have installed sophisticated monitoring that detects if thereís a leak and will shut off your line if detected (ask how I know!). 
OTOH electrical fires from electrical appliances are one of the most common sources of house fires.

Donít misunderstand... in the grand scheme of things both are very safe, but donít assume you lessen the risk by choosing one over the other.

How do you know?

How do I know what?  About residential fire danger?  Well my ex dealt with residential insurance law, but you can also take a look at the NFPA which lists electrical appliances and electrical wiring in their top sources of residential fires.  Fires from gas leaks doesn't even make the list.  of course there are the statistical caveats - not all homes have natural gas (but essentially all are electrified). Another line of evidence is reflected in home insurance rates, which don't discount all-electric homes over those which have natural gas appliances.  In the world of insurance  actuators, increased risks are reflected in premiums.

Still - my broader point to the OP is: opting for electrical appliances over natural gas won't necessarily reduce your risk.

About how gas leaks are detected (your post asked us to ask you!)

Oh.  hahaha... thought you were questioning my statement about electric not being any safer..

I'll make this short:  Was renting a detached apartment and gas company shut off the flow because they said their computers detected a consistent and slow leak.  Landlord went balstic and figured out how to turn gas back on after htey left.  Gas company showed back up with police.  Turns out there was a very low-flow leak on a run of pipe that when out to a no-longer used shed... less than what a single burner on a stove turned to low would consume.  Point is... at least my municipality monitors and can detect constant leaks and filter that out from the background gas consumption. YMMV.

AerynLee

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2020, 08:59:39 AM »

First - no - you do not have to be connected to natural gas.  Plenty of homes are not, though itís highly region specific.

Second - curious that you worry about gas leaks abut not electrical fires. Gas leaks within the home are rare and immediately noticeable (olfactory).  Gas companies have installed sophisticated monitoring that detects if thereís a leak and will shut off your line if detected (ask how I know!). 
OTOH electrical fires from electrical appliances are one of the most common sources of house fires.

Donít misunderstand... in the grand scheme of things both are very safe, but donít assume you lessen the risk by choosing one over the other.

How do you know?

How do I know what?  About residential fire danger?  Well my ex dealt with residential insurance law, but you can also take a look at the NFPA which lists electrical appliances and electrical wiring in their top sources of residential fires.  Fires from gas leaks doesn't even make the list.  of course there are the statistical caveats - not all homes have natural gas (but essentially all are electrified). Another line of evidence is reflected in home insurance rates, which don't discount all-electric homes over those which have natural gas appliances.  In the world of insurance  actuators, increased risks are reflected in premiums.

Still - my broader point to the OP is: opting for electrical appliances over natural gas won't necessarily reduce your risk.

About how gas leaks are detected (your post asked us to ask you!)

Oh.  hahaha... thought you were questioning my statement about electric not being any safer..

I'll make this short:  Was renting a detached apartment and gas company shut off the flow because they said their computers detected a consistent and slow leak.  Landlord went balstic and figured out how to turn gas back on after htey left.  Gas company showed back up with police.  Turns out there was a very low-flow leak on a run of pipe that when out to a no-longer used shed... less than what a single burner on a stove turned to low would consume.  Point is... at least my municipality monitors and can detect constant leaks and filter that out from the background gas consumption. YMMV.
Interesting. I'm not sure our local gas company can do that. A few years ago I had a (distant) coworker who was a hoarder that part of her hoard included cats. Well the ammonia from the cat urine apparently ate through the gas pipes in her basement and her house exploded. Not the sensational "nothing left" kind of explosion, but it knocked the structure off the foundation. She initially got out safely, but went back in to try and save some cats and did not come out safely from that, she ultimately died of her injuries 8 months later.
Add that to this story in my home state of a gas explosion that killed 2 people and leveled 33 homes (granted, this was absolutely not an accident) and I'm personally more comfortable with all electric. Our current house does have natural gas though so I'm not completely opposed to having it

Fishindude

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2020, 10:15:30 AM »
Your odds of seeing Elvis are far better than your odds of getting blown up in a natural gas explosion in your home.
Fear of this shouldn't even be a consideration.

nereo

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2020, 10:50:02 AM »
Interesting. I'm not sure our local gas company can do that. A few years ago I had a (distant) coworker who was a hoarder that part of her hoard included cats. Well the ammonia from the cat urine apparently ate through the gas pipes in her basement and her house exploded. Not the sensational "nothing left" kind of explosion, but it knocked the structure off the foundation. She initially got out safely, but went back in to try and save some cats and did not come out safely from that, she ultimately died of her injuries 8 months later.
Add that to this story in my home state of a gas explosion that killed 2 people and leveled 33 homes (granted, this was absolutely not an accident) and I'm personally more comfortable with all electric. Our current house does have natural gas though so I'm not completely opposed to having it
Your odds of seeing Elvis are far better than your odds of getting blown up in a natural gas explosion in your home.
Fear of this shouldn't even be a consideration.

Agreed.  It sounds like the culprit was the hoarding and abysmal living conditions.  To that end, the NFPA lists 'Hoarding' as a special area of concern and primary factor in residential fires (see: Behavioral Risks).  If the ammonia truly was enough to melt through natural gas lines (generally black steel, though sometimes corregauted stainless or brass) - then it almost certainly could have corroded the electrical as well.

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2020, 10:55:06 AM »
OP, congrats on the house!

You need a lot more self education. Seriously. Because if you have gas service, then yes, you have something that runs off gas. Do you really want to find out that it's the heat when the temp drops? On the other hand, if you don't know if you have gas service to the new house - you need to find out.

Basic things you should know/find out very quickly on ANY house you own:
-What your utilities are and what runs off of them. IE, furnace, water heater, etc.
-Where and how to turn off the water to the house
-Where and how to turn off the gas to the house (less likely needed, but still good to know)
-Where the electrical box is, how to turn off the power, and how to reset breakers if they trip
-What regular maintenance is needed on major systems. This is mostly going to be your furnace/ac filters, but if you have a well, water filtration of some sort, etc that also falls into this bucket.
-How to turn on and off the heat and A/C

Longer term, you're going to want to hunt down where all the GFIs are because at some point one's going to trip and it's good to know where they are to check them all.

Your home inspector would likely be able to tell you much of this stuff during the inspection. If you've missed that opportunity you'll have to work a little harder but it's completely doable.

AerynLee

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2020, 11:18:41 AM »
Interesting. I'm not sure our local gas company can do that. A few years ago I had a (distant) coworker who was a hoarder that part of her hoard included cats. Well the ammonia from the cat urine apparently ate through the gas pipes in her basement and her house exploded. Not the sensational "nothing left" kind of explosion, but it knocked the structure off the foundation. She initially got out safely, but went back in to try and save some cats and did not come out safely from that, she ultimately died of her injuries 8 months later.
Add that to this story in my home state of a gas explosion that killed 2 people and leveled 33 homes (granted, this was absolutely not an accident) and I'm personally more comfortable with all electric. Our current house does have natural gas though so I'm not completely opposed to having it
Your odds of seeing Elvis are far better than your odds of getting blown up in a natural gas explosion in your home.
Fear of this shouldn't even be a consideration.

Agreed.  It sounds like the culprit was the hoarding and abysmal living conditions.  To that end, the NFPA lists 'Hoarding' as a special area of concern and primary factor in residential fires (see: Behavioral Risks).  If the ammonia truly was enough to melt through natural gas lines (generally black steel, though sometimes corregauted stainless or brass) - then it almost certainly could have corroded the electrical as well.
Yeah, it was not a good situation and it was ultimately her decisions after the explosion that killed her.

I haven't made housing decisions based on natural gas vs electricity, I was just saying due to personal experiences I'm not a fan. Personal preference not based on overall data

I did find it interesting that my insurance rates for the place I'm buying are higher because it's heated by propane instead of electric or natural gas. So that gives me an additional financial reason to replace the furnace and water heater of unknown age with high efficiency electric heat pump versions (no natural gas out there so it's propane or electric)

robartsd

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2020, 11:58:46 AM »
My house has a gas wall furnace. There is also gas available for the kitchen stove, but we have electric. I think the water heater used to be gas but was replaced with electric and the gas supply pipe was capped in the crawlspace. We moved in in mid-summer and didn't turn on the gas until heating season started. When we turned on the gas, we were billed the minimum connection fee (a couple of dollars a month) from the date we moved in.

ana-stache-ia

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2020, 02:00:13 PM »
Thank you all so so so much. I read all of your replies and will take them to heart. I hadn't thought about comparing the risk of a gas leak to the risk of an electrical fire. Thank you @nereo

bill1827

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2020, 12:55:33 PM »
I did find it interesting that my insurance rates for the place I'm buying are higher because it's heated by propane instead of electric or natural gas. So that gives me an additional financial reason to replace the furnace and water heater of unknown age with high efficiency electric heat pump versions (no natural gas out there so it's propane or electric)

Propane has different characteristics to natural gas; mainly it's denser than air so it can collect in places like sumps or cellars where natural gas, being less dense than air, would dissipate. That seems like an extra risk which would justify (slightly) higher premiums.

nereo

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2020, 01:32:33 PM »
I did find it interesting that my insurance rates for the place I'm buying are higher because it's heated by propane instead of electric or natural gas. So that gives me an additional financial reason to replace the furnace and water heater of unknown age with high efficiency electric heat pump versions (no natural gas out there so it's propane or electric)

Propane has different characteristics to natural gas; mainly it's denser than air so it can collect in places like sumps or cellars where natural gas, being less dense than air, would dissipate. That seems like an extra risk which would justify (slightly) higher premiums.

For this very reason there's a very brutal debate among the cruising community (people who live on boats) about whether propane stoves are acceptable on board.  Propane gases can accumulate in the bilge and storage lockers and most everyone in the community knows of some ship which exploded in the harbor.

In contrast, natural gas is lighter than air doesn't collect in bilges, basements or the like.

AerynLee

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2020, 01:41:15 PM »
I did find it interesting that my insurance rates for the place I'm buying are higher because it's heated by propane instead of electric or natural gas. So that gives me an additional financial reason to replace the furnace and water heater of unknown age with high efficiency electric heat pump versions (no natural gas out there so it's propane or electric)

Propane has different characteristics to natural gas; mainly it's denser than air so it can collect in places like sumps or cellars where natural gas, being less dense than air, would dissipate. That seems like an extra risk which would justify (slightly) higher premiums.

For this very reason there's a very brutal debate among the cruising community (people who live on boats) about whether propane stoves are acceptable on board.  Propane gases can accumulate in the bilge and storage lockers and most everyone in the community knows of some ship which exploded in the harbor.

In contrast, natural gas is lighter than air doesn't collect in bilges, basements or the like.
Good to know! I grew up on full electric and have very little knowledge of other energy sources. I think the annual premium raised something like $150 (which is about 10%) when I updated the heating source to propane, so not a significant increase but not nothing

crocheted_stache

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Re: Do I have to set up natural gas?
« Reply #19 on: October 13, 2020, 06:34:37 PM »
I have a long term goal of electrifying my whole house, and especially replacing my gas stove when the time comes. https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2020/5/7/21247602/gas-stove-cooking-indoor-air-pollution-health-risks

I can get clean electricity and possibly make some of my own. There's no such thing as carbon neutral natural gas.

Definitely figure out what it's doing there before opting out.

If I change out the water heater and furnace, the gas meter will be a vestige.