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Natural gas and the environment

It’s all about keeping balanced

Energy development is about clean as well as green. It’s about looking at climate change in a way that allows New Zealand to achieve economic growth, and doesn’t compromise society or our ability to keep our families warm. A balanced approach to responsible energy use means we need to think about the big picture.  

Natural gas used directly in our homes continues to be positive for sustainable energy development because it makes the most of the energy resources and infrastructure we have now. It’s ideal in times of peak demand on the national electricity grid when renewable resources can’t keep up, taking the heat off the need to build more power stations to keep up with demand.     

Solar and natural gas – great energy partners

Using solar powered energy at home is a positive for New Zealand. Just like natural gas, when used directly, it takes some pressure off our national electricity grid. Both energy sources used in partnership can significantly reduce carbon emissions compared with ‘all electric’ homes.   

We’ve got your back

Natural gas is a great back up option to solar, and many continuous flow hot water systems are solar-compatible. This means if there’s not enough sun for everyone to have a hot shower, natural gas will kick in and provide that endless supply of water – as much as you need, right when you need it.  

The low down on emissions

Natural gas when used directly has fewer carbon emissions than peak time electricity.  In fact it's twice as efficient when used to power appliances in your home compared with electricity that has been generated by natural gas or coal.  

A clean heat source, natural gas contributes to reducing smog in our cities. Even in winter, a natural gas fire burns clean, releasing no ash or dust particles into the air. Natural gas emits mostly carbon dioxide – the same compound we exhale when we breathe. Modern appliances are designed to deliver this outside, keeping your place clean and dry.  

Not only this, the high-efficiency of natural gas appliances means there is a reduced effect on the planet. At up to 95% efficiency, continuous flow gas water heating has a lower carbon footprint than electric hot water cylinders, and can even match heatpump hot water or electricity-boosted solar water heating. That’s partly because solar and heat pump water heating systems both require cylinders as companions. All cylinders constantly heat the water stored inside and this creates waste – some call this waste ‘standing losses’. The result on your energy bill is a ‘standby cost’ because you’re paying to heat extra water before you even turn the hot tap on.  Standby water heating creates additional carbon emissions compared to on-demand systems that only heat the water you use.

Here’s an illustration that shows how much more efficient it can be to use natural gas to power your hot water, heating and cooking appliances.

 

Diagram showing efficiency of using natural gas direct rather than electricity generated by gas