It’s one thing to oppose pipelines and continued use of fossil fuels, but there is little as effective as a boycott of the key product. This is certainly not a new idea. (I don’t do Facebook. See this 2001 article as well.) So if you want to nudge in the direction of renewables, please consider boycotting natural gas. If you want to save money in the long term, please consider leaving natural gas. Natural gas and other fossil fuel prices are inherently volatile. Complaints of their being too high some times are really complaints about this volatility. Renewable energy produces electricity at the same price decade after decade.
Natural gas ain’t granola. Despite company advertisements to the contrary, drilling and fracking natural gas wells and associated infrastructure, including pipelines, compressor stations, and piping and metering stations are invasive, disruptive, expensive, and harmful to people, the environment, and the climate. Methane, the chief component of natural gas, is many times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than is CO2, and even at the burning end, combustion of natural gas is not complete, so there is leakage, even if the raw chemistry of all the component that is burnt is much cleaner than coal. Moreover, gas leaks, from pipelines, from nearly every step along the way, and especially in distribution networks near homes. And don’t think that because you hear reassuring things from utilities and gas companies and engineers that there’s safety there. It may be out of sight, but the political process and the Natural Gas Act of 1938 rigs the federal system against all opponents of natural gas, from cities and towns, down to localities and homeowners and farmers.
Co-constituents of natural gas with methane are carcinogenic and are powerfully harmful of human breathing and lungs. Even the odorants which are added to facilitate detection of leaks are themselves harmful.
- The easiest way is to design your new home with solar PV, energy efficiency, and electric heating/cooling in mind. Induction stoves are wonderful devices, bringing most of the benefits of gas stoves and energy efficiency to an all-electric footprint. Many new homes, particularly large ones, have excellent roofs and yards for solar PV arrays. Our home has appreciable tree shading, especially in summer, but we solved that by oversizing the array we installed, and, so, generating like crazy for the parts of the day and year we do see unimpeded Sun. And those puffy cumulus clouds are truly awesome helpers.
- Consider refitting your home and getting off natural gas. We were never on natural gas, but we once did heat our home with oil heated forced hot water and got our hot water that way. Now, our home is zero Carbon, since we heat and cool with ductless minisplits, and have an electric air heat pump hot water heater. We even have an electric, battery-powered lawnmower. Payback times are better each year. (Our solar array will pay for itself in 7 years, this being in Massachusetts.) Your state may have an incentive program and, from what I have studied, it is a win in any case: You’ll just not earn as much back as people do in states that have strong support of solar PV, like New York. The town of Minster, OH went big on solar despite their state’s punitive measures upon solar owners.
- If you cannot afford solar, or your roof or yard is shielded from Sun, or you live in an apartment, consider the Relay Power community solar program, and switch over from natural gas to at least one ductless minisplit system. Relay Power is available to anyone in the Eversource electricity region in Massachusetts, and there are community solar programs elsewhere in the United States. Check yours.
- Make your house more efficient! The less heat you need, the less gas you use. If you have a gas-powered clothes dryer, seriously consider drying your clothes by hanging them on racks on your deck or from a clothesline. Dampness in a house is not good for the house, and clothes smell better and feel better, in my opinion, when dried outdoors. If you use a gas oven, consider getting a much smaller top-of-counter electric oven. In our experience, most cooking for singles and couples does not need the big oven. Most of these small ovens are big enough to bake pizza. We have a Breville Convection Smart Oven and we love it.
- Support your local environmental organization and political action committee to push your state governor and legislature for better energy policy, one which advocates for zero Carbon energy. The more of this there is, the cheaper is electric power in your state, and the lower the price of natural gas, even if you continue to use it.
- Prohibit reimbursements like the Pipeline Tax. Utilities and gas companies are for-profit corporations. They should be able to get loans to build infrastructure from the private sector. They don’t need taxpayers to share the risk.
Natural gas … WE DON’T WANT YOUR PIPELINE We don’t want your damn gas.