Natural gas can be a cost-effective option for heating a home or a business, and for cooking and running a clothes dryer.

Natural gas, which is considered an alternative, clean-burning fuel, has become popular in recent years as availability is spreading around the US. With the benefit of not being connected to the same infrastructure as electricity, natural gas often continues running when the power goes out. It’s also typically much cheaper than electricity and fuels like propane.

The utility rates for natural gas vary from state to state, but the rate is typically very stable and doesn’t see many price spikes.The national average price of natural gas in the United States in 2014 was almost $11 per 1,000 cubic feet for residential users, and almost $9 per 1,000 cubic feet for businesses.

Depending on the size of the home or business, conversions can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $3,500 – or occasionally more. The conversion can include running an underground pipe from the closest existing pipeline to your home or business. If that existing infrastructure is not already at the end of a short driveway or parking lot, those costs will probably be higher. Some cooking and heating appliances may not be able to convert from electric to gas, and might need to be replaced. If a home or business was using propane or another type of fuel, there could be other costs associated with emptying and removing the storage tank. Getting service started may also require a security deposit with the utility company.

Most utility companies will give customers an estimate of how much the up-front one-time costs of conversion will be, and some provide incentives for customers to make the switch by offering rebates.