Cost of energy estimates

This came from “This New House”, where they were talking about wood pellets as a clean-burning fuel. They listed these numbers as “Average cost per million BTUs”. I was quite surprised!

Natural Gas $8.62
Wood Pellets $14.76
Heating oil $21.61
Propane $21.83
Electricity $31.37

I have no idea of their sources for costs, and it was referring to heating the home. Surely your costs will vary, but the idea that electricity is around 3.5x the cost of natural gas was surprising to me. I’d never seen numbers put on the pricing before. I knew gas was cheaper than electricity, but didn’t know it was that much cheaper.

Last I saw NG was practically the same as LPG, if not higher in some markets. Over-all, those numbers aren’t real. However, electric is by the far, the most expensive. The pellets, really depend on locale and region. They can be as expensive as electric in some areas, cheaper than LPG in others.

I knew they couldn’t be accurate across the board, as shipping cost of wood pellets certainly have a real cost associated. Supply and demand are certainly factors, but for instance, I’m in the land of the TVA and our electricity costs are great compared to other areas of the country.

A simple call to your local utilities company will give you the average cost to heat an average home in your area by both gas and electricity. The cost of electricity will vary greatly depending upon your location, and the cost of compressed gas will also vary with the time of purchase, but your utility company should be able to provide you with some good, average figures to work with.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Last Fall I attended a natural gas conference and annual meeting as the voting delegate from our city electric company. What we found out is that NG has been at amazing historical low prices for the last 8 to 10 years or so. Rising a little the last few years, but nothing like it was in the early 90’s or 80’s. With the discovery and ‘mining’ of some vast shale formations in northern Louisiana into Arkansas, prices project to stay “low” for at least another 5 to 8 years barring some market changing event, or government intervention.

Depending on the energy generation profile of the electric company (nuclear, hydro, wind, coal, geothermal, NG Combined Cycle, etc.) and transmission costs (and minimum fees) electricity is higher/lower in some places than others. What you will know is that electricity costs more to generate a BTU than NG, all things being equal. In an old, less insulated space, electricity is especially poor for heating, as it is extremely slow at recovery as compared to NG, or other live fire fuels. Also remember that there is an efficiency loss with using electricity . . . they gotta burn SOMETHING to generate most of the KW we use: coal, Natural Gas, oil, biomass (wood), recovered landfill methane, etc. Then there is transmission loss as it travels through the wires and the local grid.

YMMV as to cost to heat your own house, but NG is is going to be a contender in almost every market (unless the electricity has some sort of governmental subsidies)

We also observed that when using two exact same ovens (air impingement in this case) one electric and the other natural gas, the natural gas fired oven always baked at a lower temperature (maintaining a 5.5-minute baking time) and produced a darker colored crust with more crispiness than the electric oven. We attributed this to the moisture in the air heated with natural gas improving the heat transfer properties of the air as opposed to the dry air condition of the electric oven. As a side note, when we used a fixed baking temperature (465F), the electric oven always took a full minute longer to bake than the natural gas oven. This was the first and only real, side by side comparison I’ve ever had the opportunity to conduct, and it sure underscored what so many of us had been observing over the years.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor