Monday, June 7, 2010

Can you dump your gas company?

Who else is afraid of recurring fixed costs?

We use natural gas every day. We can't help it. Our houses are programmed to do so. Between the thermostat on the wall and the hot water tank, you're burning it and paying for it to the tune of about three dollars a day without lifting a finger.

What if it was free? What if you could heat your home and your water with the free energy of the sun instead of paying for natural gas? To ask the question a different way, what could you do with an extra $1000 every year?

Retrofitting your house to work with the sun could reduce the amount of energy required to heat it. Insulation, window improvement, and sun shading features can help your house stay at a comfortable temperature, with less help from your furnace.

How far you go renovating your house is up to you, but there's an attraction to going all the way: Eliminating fixed costs.

Look at your natural gas bill. You will see that they charge you flat rates for administration, delivery, and a franchise fee that probably add up to almost half the bill.

Reducing your natural gas usage can only cut your costs down to the fixed costs unless you can cancel the service entirely.

You probably don't run your furnace in the summer. With a solar hot water heater on your house for hot water, would you need any gas at all?

For the trouble of a solar hot water heater, and a couple phone calls to the gas company, you could probably save 4-6 months worth of gas bills, even if you aren't ready to go without gas through the winter.

Energy companies don't have an interest in making you use less energy any more than cigarette companies want you to buy fewer cigarettes.

You're their revenue stream. They might not make this easy for you. They want you to pay them every month. Remember that you're the customer. You're in charge.

In an existing house it will be tough to dump the gas company all year round. Nobody wants to freeze their pipes. Saving six months of bills is possible though.

If you're moving or building a new house, consider how you could use the sun instead of the gas company, eliminate those nasty fixed costs, pay one less bill every month, and save money forever.

You might also like:

Irrational Exuberance: Are we blowing our ecological lottery winnings?

Fee & Dividend: Make money while saving the planet: An attack on Cap & Trade.

EROEI: Bang for your energy buck: How Energy Return on Energy Invested makes some resources unrecoverable

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