Photo credit by Domiriel
The type of heating unit you add to or replace in your home can have far-reaching implications for both financial expenditure and ease of use. Of the three major systems available to the average homeowner, natural gas is more prevalent and popular than either electrical heating or fuel oil burning. There are quite a few advantages to natural gas over other forms and a few drawbacks that should be understood before the final decision is made on the type of heating you will use.
Availability is one good feature of natural gas. Most areas of the country, with the exception of very rural areas are already set up with the gas lines needed to service a home. There is no need to have a fuel storage tank installed in the home. This eliminates the potential for fuel leaks or environmental cleanup charges. With a natural gas heater you will not need to check the fuel level or need to order gas deliveries. Gas boilers are not as prone to needing electricity so an electrical power outage will not affect their use. A small gas generator as a backup for any emergency needs would be added to the overall cost of the heating system.
For those environmentally concerned, there is no real difference in the amount of "greenhouse" gasses produced. Natural gas produces more heat in relation to the amount of gasses given off as a byproduct than does electrical production by carbon fuel generators. Fossil fuel use in electrical generators creates more CO2 than the burning of natural gas. Despite a potential future cost increase merely because of its growing popularity, the higher energy to heat ratio than produced by electricity makes natural gas very attractive.
Natural gas boilers have the advantage over other forms of fuel energy available. Heating oil, for example, fluctuates in cost as the world petroleum prices go up and down. Natural gas tends to remain fairly consistent in cost throughout a year. With a natural gas supply being piped in, you do not have to keep a potentially dangerous tank of fuel oil in your home. The chances of you “running out” of natural gas are very slim. Depending on your location, many insurance companies will not insure a home with a fuel oil tank present.
When comparing the pros and cons of natural gas boilers, an important aspect of your home's power draining equipment is the water heater. Again, the higher heat output makes natural gas a more economical choice for the task. Electric water heaters must run longer and use more power. Tankless electric water heaters can be of greater savings than natural gas, but only depending on the volume of use.
A common complaint against natural gas boilers is that they supposedly turn your curtains yellow or brown and coat the room with a dingy skim of ash. This does not occur with an efficient gas burner. Soot buildup is more likely to affect your home's surfaces with a fuel oil or wood heating system. Depending on your area's specific utilities and supply, natural gas boilers are more efficient and economical that many of the other popular choices. Knowing what your energy needs are will help you design a custom system that works right for you.