Greener household gas and gas saving tips

I received a letter today from our LP Gas supplier (Origin Energy) about switching to “green” gas options. I thought this was somewhat of an oxymoron as natural and lp gas are fossil fuels.

Liquid Propane/Petroleum (LP) gas is derived from petroleum products and while it creates more carbon emissions than natural gas by volume, it also burns 3 times hotter; so you use less – hence less emissions than natural gas. LP Gas is purchased in cylinders, it cannot be delivered via gas mains directly to your home.

Natural gas is found in oil and natural gas fields. It’s a little bit of a misleading term as natural gas requires a great deal of processing. This is the type of gas that is piped directly to your home via a mains pipeline.

The bottom line is, neither are particularly environmentally friendly – in our household we generate around 1.45 tons of emissions a year from our LP Gas consumption – which is about half of what an average car generates.

I gave our gas supplier, Origin Energy, a call as the brochure didn’t mention how this gas could be called “green”. It turns out that the program is the first of its kind in Australia and is based on offsetting. It costs AU$3 to offset each 45kg cylinder and the money is spent in the following ways:

– development of cleaner processing technologies such as gas flaring
– reforestation of Oil Mallee Eucalypt trees on Kyoto compliant agricultural land
– giving away CFLs and showerheads
– landfill diversion of organic waste

I love seeing trees being planted, regardless of the reason and I’m particularly fond of Mallee. If a couple of extra bucks a cylinder also means that somebody gets a free energy efficient light globe or water saving showerhead; I’m all for it. Landfill diversion is great as is investment in more environmentally friendly processing technologies. If I need to use gas, I’d like to think that it was being processed in a way with the least impact on the planet.

While Origin Energy’s “green” gas program is still the same old fossil fuel gas; I do applaud this initiative. If your gas company doesn’t offer such a program; point them to Origin’s site.

Even if your gas company refuses to implement these sorts of programs; you can offset your own gas usage emissions by calculating your impact and purchasing green tags or buying trees to be planted on your behalf.

Important note:

While offsetting is a wonderful option, it’s equally important to reduce consumption. In the case of household gas, here’s a couple of tips:

– Turn down your hot water service thermostat. Do you really need to have water that’s so hot it scalds your skin? By dialing back the thermostat a little, you’ll save gas, dollars and also extend the life of your hot water service

– When cooking in a gas oven, turn the gas off a couple of minutes before the meal is done – the heat already in the oven will finish the cooking for you. Over a year you can save a substantial amount of gas by doing this.

– If you have a gas heater, ensure your house is well sealed to prevent heat escaping, keep doors to rooms you don’t need heated shut and use heavy curtains over your windows to help retain the heat. If finances allow, use a good quality earth friendly insulation material in your roof and walls – this will also help keep your house much cooler in summer.