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Call Before You Dig

Spring is around the corner so you probably have an outdoor project planned. Maybe you are planting a tree, adding onto your deck or even putting in that new fence.

BUT, before you start digging away on your land, you need to remember to call before you dig.

Georgia state law requires that you call 811 to have your utility lines professionally marked before you do any digging on your property. This is a statewide, toll-free number and your underground utilities will be marked free of charge. When you call the Utilities Protection Center at 811 or 1-800-282-7411, all you have to do is ask for an underground locator service.

This is not a step to be overlooked in your project because if you just start digging without this knowledge, you could run into gas lines, electric lines or even water pipes, which could have some serious consequences.

Call or visit georgia811.com if you have any additional questions or concerns about digging on your property. As long as you call before you dig, you should be safe to start on your outdoor spring projects. Happy spring digging! 

4 Myths About Natural Gas

There is a lot of information that floats around about the sources of energy we use on a daily basis. Unfortunately, some of that information is incorrect. There are some common myths associated with natural gas, so we wanted to clear those up for you right here.

Check out common myths about natural gas below:

  1. Natural gas is dangerous – This isn’t exactly true. Yes, natural gas will ignite, but only when there is a high enough concentration of natural gas AND there is an ignition source.
  2. Natural gas is bad for the environment – Natural gas is actually is the cleanest burning of all the fossil fuels.
  3. Natural gas will be gone soon – In recent years, we have uncovered even more natural gas within the United States borders. We have plenty of access to this resource domestically, and it is not something we are running out of soon.
  4. Natural gas is toxic – This is not true. Natural gas is non-toxic or non-poisonous. You don’t want natural gas to displace the air in a small space, but exposure to low levels of natural gas is not harmful to your health.

There is a lot of debate on what exactly is the best source of energy for us to use, and there probably always will be debate on that subject. However, we know that natural gas is a good resource because it is safe, clean burning, reliable, efficient and so much more. If you have questions about natural gas, come talk to us. 

Natural Gas Alarms

Natural gas, while a great source of energy for your house, is also highly combustible. That is why some people add a natural gas alarm to their house as an added precaution in case they would have a natural gas leak.

Why use a natural gas alarm?

In its natural state, natural gas is odorless, so natural gas companies add mercaptan to give it a smell. This odor is often compared to the smell of rotten eggs. If you do smell this smell in your home, it is an indication that you may have some sort of natural gas leak.

Some people also like to add a natural gas alarm to their house as an added precaution. The alarm is meant to detect a natural gas leak before the amount gets too harmful, so it may alert you before you smell anything in your house.

What do you do if your natural gas alarm goes off?

Like previously stated, this alarm will go off before you are in any great danger, so don’t panic. The first step would be to open your windows to allow the natural gas to dissipate if possible. You will then want to turn off your natural gas and leave your house. Next you will want to contact your gas company to have someone come check your house for a gas leak.

Natural gas is overall a very safe source of energy and about half the households in the United States use it to heat their homes. However, it is good to be prepared and ready so you can prevent potential problems from happening. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

What is Compressed Natural Gas and Why is it Important?

You may be using natural gas to heat your home because about half the people in the United States are. They use natural gas for many reasons because it is one of the safest and cleanest sources of energy and also because the majority of the natural gas we use we get from the United States.

So why don’t we use natural gas for more than just heating our homes?

The good news is we are working on it. Recently, the United States has been looking into Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as an alternative to gasoline for our vehicles. CNG is odorless, colorless and tasteless and it comes from natural gas wells drilled in the United States. Natural Gas powers millions of vehicles in the world, but not that many in the United States.

Exploring CNG for use in automobiles is important because CNG costs about 50% less than gasoline or diesel and it emits up to 90% fewer emissions than gasoline does. CNG is better for our wallets and the environment. Also, we have an abundant supply of CNG right here in the United States. This means that we don’t have to worry about costs of buying it and importing it like we do with petroleum.

You may be wondering about the safety implications of using CNG as a fuel for our vehicles, and the good news is there are strict safety standards for CNG vehicles to make them just as safe as gasoline powered vehicles.

Interested in CNG? Do some research and find out if a CNG vehicle is for you. At Walton, we know that natural gas is a great source of energy for your home, so it might be something to look into for your vehicle as well. 

How Can I Invest in Natural Gas?

You may have heard that natural gas is a fast-growing source of energy, and about half the households in the United States use natural gas to heat their homes. This is true, which makes natural gas a great resource and also a possibility for investment.

Ways to Invest in Natural Gas

There are three main ways to invest in Natural Gas. These are ETFs, Futures and Stocks.

ETFs are funds tracking the equity of natural gas producers or the price of natural gas. A couple different options of ETFs are the United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG), which invests in front month futures contracts or the Teucrium Natural Gas Fund (NAGS), which spreads exposure across multiple maturities to look at prices more long-term.

Futures for natural gas are traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The market for natural gas futures is very liquid. This means trading is very active throughout the week, especially on Thursdays when the Department of Energy releases its weekly natural gas storage report.  Natural gas holds the second-highest volume futures contract in the world.

Stocks are a great investing option if you don’t want to directly deal with futures contracts. In the case of stocks, you can get indirect exposure to natural gas by investing in companies explore fuel types. Some companies focus purely on natural gas and others engage with both natural gas and crude oil.

Investing in natural gas could be something that is well-worth your time and money. It may be something to explore in further detail if you are interested. 

How Does Natural Gas Get to Your Home?

Over half of the households in the United States use natural gas to heat their homes, but some of them may not know how it is that their home gets heated.

You probably know that natural gas is extracted from deep underground. When natural gas is extracted, however, it doesn’t have to be used right away. Natural gas can be stored underground in large storage reservoirs, so gas companies can safely store gas until it is needed.

When natural gas is needed to fuel your home, it is delivered to your home through an underground pipeline. The pipeline in Georgia is called the Atlanta Gas Light pipeline. This pipeline was started over 150 years ago and it now supplies more than 1.6 million homes, businesses and industrial facilities with clean and efficient energy.

As the natural gas travels your way through the Atlanta Gas Light pipeline, it has to pass through a city gate. This gate reduces the pressure of the gas, and it also adds the odorant to the gas to give it a smell for safety purposes. As the gas enters the meter at your home, the pressure level of the gas has been reduced one more time to make it a safe and usable level for you.

As you turn on your heat and appliances, the gas is there to fuel your home and it passes through the meter to measure your use. There are several steps on your way to getting efficient energy, but we at Walton make sure you get the energy you need! If you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to contact us!

Natural Gas Appliances: A Gas Dryer

You may have heard that natural gas appliances can be very energy efficient. This is often true, so even though the initial cost of the natural gas appliance may be a bit more, you can save energy and money in the long run. If you are thinking about upgrading your dryer, think about making it a gas dryer.

Buying a Gas Dryer

Unfortunately, a dryer is one of the least energy efficient appliances, but you can help matters by choosing one with good energy efficiency. Gas dryers are known to be energy efficient. When looking at a gas dryer, the price is going to be somewhere between $350 and $1,600. The cost on a monthly basis is going to depend on the gas prices in your area.

As far as a gas dryer goes, you need a gas line as well as space for outdoor venting in order to install a gas dryer. Since this process requires a gas line, it is recommended that you hire a technician to install your gas dryer.

Advantages of a Gas Dryer

There are a lot of reasons to go out and buy a gas dryer. One of those is energy efficiency. Another is the fact that you can dry your clothes very quickly and often for less money. Gas Dryers also sense when your clothes are dry and they are able to reduce the amount of wrinkling because the heat dissipates quickly.

If you are upgrading your appliances this year, try for energy efficiency with a gas dryer. 

Natural Gas Appliances: Benefits of a Gas Fireplace

There is something iconic about curling up on your couch in front of a fire. It makes your house really feel like home. That may be why fireplaces are one of the top features new homeowners want.

A warm fire on a cold night is great, and what’s even better is a warm fire that is easy to start, needs no tending and requires no cleanup. Sounds perfect, right? All of that is possible with a gas fireplace.

There are many benefits of owning one, so if you have always wanted a fireplace, it might be something to look into. Three of the main benefits heat, convenience and flexibility are listed below.

Heat

One big reason people get fireplaces is for the heat they produce. Your furnace costs a lot to heat your house, and with a furnace, sometimes you are heating rooms you don’t need to. With a gas fireplace, you can still use your furnace, but you won’t have to use it as much so it can save you money on heating your house. If you put your gas fireplace in a family room or a living room that you are in a lot, you can make sure that room is warm for you, your family and your guests.

Convenience

Another reason people get gas fireplaces is there is a great deal of convenience associated with them. Wood burning fireplaces take a great deal of time an energy to start and maintain a fire. With a gas fireplace, you simply flip a switch or push a button and the fireplace is turned on and you can keep it at the temperature you want it to be.

Flexibility

Gas fireplaces are also able to fit flexibly into your home. You can pick the fireplace that is best for your home. One of your options is an insert, for this you can use your existing wood fireplace and chimney and you can simply insert in a more efficient gas fireplace. If you don’t already have an existing fireplace, don’t worry, you can purchase a built-in gas fireplace that doesn’t require a chimney and it can just be placed wherever you want it to be as long as you have that natural gas connection.

With gas fireplaces there are a wide variety of styles and designs as well as sizes and even temperatures options. If you dream of being able to gather with family and friends around your own fireplace, you may want to consider a gas fireplace. 

Tips for Saving Energy This Winter

It’s wintertime and the weather is getting colder. That also means your energy bill may be increasing a bit for the next couple of months, but there are a few things you can do to keep those costs lower. Check out these tips to save a little energy and money this winter.

  1. Weatherize your windows and doors – You can use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on the inside of your windows to reduce the chill coming from them. For your doors, if you notice a gap or if you feel air coming in from the outside, you can get a weather strip to seal the cracks and keep out drafts.
  2. Adjust your thermostat – This is an important one. You don’t want to be heating an empty house, so make sure you turn your thermostat down when you are not home and when you are sleeping because you won’t need the house to be as warm.
  3. Add a layer before you increase the temperature – Are you relaxing at home in a t-shirt? If you are cold, put on a sweater or sweatshirt before you increase the temperature of your home. You may realize it is not that cold once you add a layer.
  4. Use LED lights for your holiday decorations – A lot of people like to put up festive lights and glowing decorations for the winter holidays because it can make your house feel warmer. This year, spend a couple extra dollars to upgrade those decorations to LED lights and you will save a lot in energy costs.
  5. Check your furnace regularly – It is important to make sure your furnace is clean and properly maintained. If it is, it will work better and more efficiently, which will save you money.
  6. Seal up leaks – You may have small leaks where you have pipes or vents going through your walls. If you simply caulk along those areas it can prevent those leaks and save you energy.
  7. Upgrade those appliances - ENERGY STAR appliances are great for using energy efficiently and saving you energy costs. This can have a more expensive initial cost, but if you are planning on upgrading your appliances anyway, check out those that use energy more efficiently.

The temperatures are dropping, so it is important to be smart about your energy use. If you follow these few tips, it can help you so your energy bill doesn’t increase too much. Have any questions about your energy bill or energy consumption? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

How Does Cold Weather Impact Natural Gas Prices?

With winter in our midst, our concern will be keeping warm. We will be turning on our furnaces and bringing out extra blankets to fight off the cold. Heating our homes can be one of the bigger expenses we run into as far as utilities are concerned, and since everyone is turning on the heat, more natural gas is being used. The question is, how does cold weather impact natural gas prices?

Around half of United States households use natural gas for heating and cooling their household. The price of natural gas is dependent on supply and demand. Therefore, when temperatures outside reach more into the extremes there is more of a demand for natural gas usage. In the winter, your natural gas prices may increase slightly because there is more demand for natural gas so people can heat their homes and keep themselves warm.

The prices of natural gas are also dependent on how much natural gas is in the US natural gas inventories. Inventories start to build up at the end of the winter, but if a winter is long and particularly cold, it can lead to an increase in prices because the demand is high and the inventory is low.

Other weather conditions can also effect the prices of natural gas because they can lead to the disruption of production. Hurricanes and severe weather can lead to the slowing or stoppage of natural gas production. This will lead to the US having less natural gas, so that can also potentially affect the prices. However, most of the natural gas we use comes from the US, so we do have easy access to it, and the supply is there for us.

It is good to know that the price of natural gas can change just so you are prepared in case it happens, but it is also important to remember that natural gas is one of the cheapest, cleanest-burning fossil fuels. Even if prices do change, you are still getting a great source of energy at a good price.