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Phasing Out Personal Fossil Fuel Use

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by Skotty, Nov 17, 2019.

?

In a renewables powered world, how much natural gas use could b sufficiently absorbed by environment

  1. None

    60.0%
  2. Cooktops only

    26.7%
  3. Cooktops and maybe either water heating or general heating

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Cooktops, water heating, and general heating

    13.3%
  5. Cooktops, water heating, general heating, and more

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 S P85 | 2020 3 P19"

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    Under the direction of science and the belief that we can and will convert power generation to technologies that will greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, I have been working towards phasing out my own personal fossil fuel use. My family is close to a benchmark moment. We have a Model 3 on order that will replace our last gas car, at which point we will no longer be using gasoline at all (I've already replaced all yard equipment, including riding lawn mower and chainsaw, with electric powered options). Also in support of this, we have installed rooftop solar on our house to offset some of the additional electricity use.

    It's an interesting feeling thinking that we will no longer need gasoline at all.

    However, if I am to be completely off fossil fuels, natural gas use would have to be considered as well. How important is it to reduce natural gas use? I have to admit, this one is a lot harder for me. I believe there is some level of gas use that is mostly sustainable, but I don't know what that level would be. My gut feeling is that we should NOT use natural gas for power generating plants, but that it would be okay to continue to use it for cooking purposes. Using it for heat would fall somewhere in between.

    We currently have a natural gas furnace, water heater, and kitchen stove. This is pretty much normal around my state. I could see switching out heat and hot water to electric, but the potential cost of replacing fully functional natural gas units begins to butt heads with the apparent value of that gas use reduction. And I *really* don't want to give up the gas cooktop.

    I believe this is all a moot point for the moment, however, because state power generation is still using fossil fuels, and my rooftop solar cannot reasonably be increased to cover additional electricity usage. Any further changeover of natural gas to electric would require taking the same amount of power all from the grid which is a large percentage still coal.

    But hypothetically it is an interesting question to ask how much natural gas use would be sustainable if electricity was provided almost entirely by renewables. Thoughts? I suppose I could add a poll.
     
    • Like x 1
  2. mblakele

    mblakele beep! beep!

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    Ah, so the poll was an afterthought. That makes sense, because this is about physics and we don't get to vote on that :D

    Fact is, we'll need decades of negative emissions to get atmospheric CO2 under control. Right now we don't have a good plan to make that happen. So we can't afford to give a free pass to any source of GHG: not power plants, not kitchens, not cows.

    But we can prioritize, and we can try to set up policies that let market forces do the work.

    Now, you've probably heard that some cities are "banning natural gas" — bad headlines. Actually they're banning natural gas in new construction. It doesn't affect existing homes and apartments, and I've yet to hear of a reach code that prohibits gas in remodels. Some folks act the gestapo are coming to take away their cooktops, but it just ain't so.

    Around here it's already difficult to find a new-ish apartment with natural gas service. I've only seen it in the most expensive places. I've heard that's because rising insurance costs have made it prohibitively expensive.

    Eventually we'll have to do something about older homes and apartments, not to mention commercial. But that's probably another decade off, and it'll have to be gradual because it'll be very unpopular.

    Right, the value proposition won't make sense without significant incentives, or a carbon tax — maybe both. Meanwhile it'll mostly be replacement of failing appliances. People replace water heaters every decade or so, etc.

    For replacing that gas cooktop, have you considered induction?

    I'd been vaguely aware of induction for a while, but only tried it this year. I borrowed an induction hotplate for three weeks, and used it for all my cooking. I liked it. They claim it's even faster than gas, and I believe it. It's true that I'll have to replace about half of my pots and pans, but I'm ok with that. I cook with a lot of cast iron anyway, and that's great with induction.
     
  3. Big Earl

    Big Earl bnkwupt

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    #3 Big Earl, Nov 17, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
    I voted for none because the natural gas infrastructure and exploration process are notoriously leaky. Those leaks exist whether gas is used for cooking or for a wide variety of purposes.

    While I love cooking on gas, I would sacrifice it in order to disconnect my home from the gas grid. I'm looking at replacing our gas furnace and old central air conditioner with mini-splits that allow for much higher efficiency and better zone control. Our 23 year old gas water heater is on the list to be replaced with a Rheem heat pump model, as well. That would only leave the cooktop and I don't want to pay the minimum $20/month for gas service just to use it for cooking.
     
    • Like x 2
  4. Kenz

    Kenz Member

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    Location:
    Hebron, Indiana
    Check if there are people or groups near you that may be interested in developing a Community Solar site for residents to get additional solar power. That may be a way to increase the amount of clean energy available to you and your neighbors. A local co-op, environmental group or community university may be a place to start inquiring. It might just get the ball rolling.

    Most utilities know that they must reduce their fossil fuels use and coal power plants are shutting down.
    Wind and solar energy are safer, cleaner and cheaper than fossil fuels.
    Coal is a smaller part of the grid generating capacity every year. Contacting their customer service and letting them know you want clean power is a small step to push them in that direction.

    I am assuming that before you put solar in you tried to make your home more energy efficient.
    Air sealing, super insulation, high efficiency heating and air conditioning systems, high efficiency appliances, LED lighting, set back thermostats, solar panels with battery storage and an EV charger in the garage should all be considered in any new home build or major remodel. Air sealing done with a blower door test can make a huge difference in most older homes. I had my home air sealed and my utility bills dropped by 30% the following month. Pay up front for long term savings month after month, year after year.
     
  5. msm859

    msm859 Member

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    Yes, it will be tough to get completely off natural gas. I heat my house with natural gas but I use the most efficient way - radiant heat using a boiler that is so efficient that it vents out of pvc pipe. I added a heat pump water heater and 3 more solar panels (39 total) for dhw. Just replaced my gas cooktop with electric induction, But will still have the gas outdoor bbq. Further reducing my carbon footprint - Have a model X on order to replace my ICE Explorer. At this point though reductions are going to be harder to come by.
     
    • Like x 1
  6. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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  7. nwdiver

    nwdiver Well-Known Member

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    I think none... is going to be ~impossible for the foreseeable future (>50 years) but I don't think we'll use it for domestic cooking or heating but peaking. I think gas fired turbines for electricity are going to be what we fall back on for decades. We should be able to get to the point that they're only called upon a few times a month but we'll still need them.

    Hopefully we can get start making methane from electricity but that's gonna take a while too...
     
    • Like x 3
  8. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

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    I voted for NONE. I used to live in an all electric home. I replaced the resistance water heater with a heat pump and the cooktop with induction.
    Five years later I bought another home that had some gas appliances. After adding solar I replaced the old gas water heater with HPWH and fitted an electric dryer. I still have gas stove and gas furnace and eventually plan on replacing with induction cooktop and heat pump for AC and heat. We use AC more than gas furnace..

    I do think we are going to need natural gas for generation until renewables can cover all weather conditions. That will be easier in most of California.
     
    • Like x 1
  9. Uncle Paul

    Uncle Paul Well-Known Member

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    You may be doing the Earth a favor by efficiently burning off Natural Gas for heating and cooking purposes.

    There is a huge glut of Natural Gas from the fraking industry. When they drill for oil, they come upon tremendous amounts of Natural Gas. In areas where they do not have a market place for this gas they often simply release it or slightly better they flare it off.

    By using this excess by product you can warm your home and prepare your family meals, while causing no more pollution that if they just released it.

    Lots of our city busses and garbage trucks are now running on Natural Gas. Relatively clean burning for pollutions, soot or NOX.
     
  10. iPlug

    iPlug Member

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    Most homes in the U.S. use more energy for heating than cooling. NG air and water heating needs to go.
     
  11. RubberToe

    RubberToe Supporting the greater good

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    Electrify Everything !
     
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  12. Cirrus MS100D

    Cirrus MS100D Supporting Member

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    Great question and comments! We’re planning a remodel of our 1928 home with natural gas steam boiler (wonderful invention and beautifully simple, but horribly inefficient).

    We have been debating the same, but being in the northeast, we just don’t quite have the solar to supplant all of our gas usage, from the numbers I’ve run. Instead, we’re going to install a geothermal system, use a desuperheater with a nat gas on-demand HW heater. I’m still trying to math it out, but ideally, we should only rarely need the nat gas water heater in unusual circumstances, sort of like a peaker plant.

    We also explored induction vs. gas for cooking, which is still up for debate, but we will be moving to an electric dryer (new, upstairs), while still keeping our old gas dryer hooked up for occasional use and backup.

    And that brings me to the last point- we are in an area that’s notorious for losing power. Sure we’ll have our Powerwalls for nightly use and emergency backup, but it’ll also be nice to be able to run the GAS dryer when the power is out for 5 days without worrying about totally draining the Powerwalls. First world problems, I know.

    My hope is to design everything into this remodel/reno such that the potential breakthroughs in solar over the years COULD allow us to switch to 100% self-generation/consumption at some point. We’ll be close next year, but not quite.
     
    • Like x 1
  13. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Distributed Energy Enthusiast

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    Responsible gas extraction isn't very carbon intensive and heating/cooking doesn't use too much methane IMO. I think we're gonna look back and regret the gas power plant overbuild(obviously) and also the unethical extraction that led to massive methane leaks/emissions.
     
    • Like x 1
  14. nwdiver

    nwdiver Well-Known Member

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    Heat Pumps :)

    Rheem heat pump water heater

    Sanden heat pump water heater

    LG heat pump dryer
     

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