Is Natural Gas Or Electricity Right for Your Apartment Building?
As a building owner or manager, choosing the right energy source for your property is crucial. This decision impacts tenant comfort, operational costs, and sustainability. To make an informed choice, it’s vital to understand the nuances of natural gas and electricity. Here, we explore their benefits, costs, environmental impact, and safety precautions of both – enabling you to make the best decision for your building.
Understanding gas as an energy source
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that is widely used for heating, cooking, and generating electricity. It is composed primarily of methane gas and is known for its energy efficiency and clean-burning properties in comparison to other fossil fuels such as oil or coal. Natural gas is also considered to be a low-cost, reliable source of energy.
Benefits of natural gas for rental properties
The two greatest advantages for choosing natural gas are that it is inexpensive and highly reliable. While energy prices are constantly changing, the average costs of natural gas can be nearly two or three times less expensive than energy alternatives. Gas is also considered to be one of the most reliable and consistent sources of energy available. Due to the use of pipelines rather than powerlines, extreme weather conditions will rarely affect your access to natural gas power. The United States produces a plentiful supply with abundant reserves, so there is an ample supply that will last far into the future.
Exploring electricity as an energy source
Electricity is one of the most popular sources of energy on the market due to its flexibility and accessibility. It can be used for general lighting and heating in addition to powering appliances and personal electronics. Electricity is created from a variety of sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear power as well as renewable sources like wind or solar.
Benefits of electricity for rental properties
Electricity is versatile and widely accessible. Additionally, electricity proves to be a fuss-free energy solution in commercial settings since it can be used to power just about all aspects of your building such as HVAC systems, lighting, and general household appliances. Additionally, renewable energy sources such as solar or wind are becoming more widely available which can help reduce your property’s carbon footprint while being kinder to the environment. The wide variety of electrical energy sources gives property owners more options to choose from when shopping for energy.
Comparing Costs: Natural Gas vs. Electricity
Electricity is measured and priced per kilowatt-hour (KWh). A kilowatt is the unit of measurement for electricity while a kilowatt-hour is the measurement that describes energy use over time. Natural gas is measured and priced by two terms: cost per therm or cost per cubic foot. The measurement of gas pricing varies by region and utility provider, however it is most commonly measured by cost per therm. A therm is a unit of measurement for natural gas, representing 100 cubic feet of gas. To choose the right energy source, compare the costs per kilowatt-hour for electricity and per therm for natural gas in your area in addition to monitoring your usage through the electric or gas meters on your property.
Comparing energy efficiency
Generally speaking, Gas appliances are generally more energy efficient than electric ones. There are additional energy-efficient options such as ENERGY STAR®️-rated appliances which meet the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) strict set of energy efficiency requirements. These products typically have a higher upfront cost but buyers will see the return on investment in lower energy bills.
Calculating cost savings
To determine the potential cost savings you may have for switching energy sources, we recommend evaluating your current energy consumption by conducting an energy audit. Energy audits help you to assess your current consumption as well as give you the opportunity to consider how upgrading to renewable or energy-efficient systems and appliances can impact your energy costs and return on investment in the future.
Environmental Impact and Sustainability
Another consideration to make when shopping for energy is the environmental impact and sustainability of your energy source. Regardless of the type of energy you choose, it’s important to reflect on its environmental impact and whether it aligns with your overall sustainability goals.
Greenhouse gas emissions
While natural gas burns cleaner once the power has been supplied to your property, the production of natural gas does have negative effects on the environment. Natural gas combustion emits carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Alternatively, the environmental impact of electricity generation varies widely depending on the energy sources available in your region. If your electricity comes from fossil fuels like coal, it contributes to CO2 emissions and climate change. However, if your electricity is sourced from renewable energy, its environmental impact is significantly lower.
Renewable energy options
While traditional methods for producing natural gas or electricity contribute to climate change, there are renewable sources in both natural gas and electricity. Biogas, which is produced from organic waste, as well as Hydrogen are considered renewable gas sources. Scientists are actively working on new ways to produce renewable electric energy as well. Solar, wind, and hydropower are common renewable energy sources that are becoming more widely available. Transitioning to renewable energy sources can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to a healthier environment.
Considering sustainability goals for your property
Many apartment building owners are increasingly focused on sustainability and environmental responsibility. Implementing renewable sources can attract and retain eco-conscious tenants and enhance overall property value. Consider sustainability goals such as obtaining certifications like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for green buildings, or you can create smaller sustainability goals such as switching to ENERGY STAR®️ appliances or exploring simple solutions to save energy.
Regardless of the energy source you choose, it’s vital to ensure your property and tenants have safety precautions in place.
Gas safety measures
- Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, odorless gas. Installing carbon monoxide detectors in the common areas of your property can help monitor appliance safety and provide warning for hazards or leaks.
- Regularly inspect gas lines or appliances and ensure that they are well-maintained by qualified technicians.
Electrical safety measures
- Ensure that all electrical systems in your apartment building comply with local electrical codes and safety standards. Regular inspections and maintenance can prevent electrical hazards.
- Implement fire safety measures, such as installing smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and emergency lighting. Educate tenants about fire safety protocols and evacuation plans.
Evaluating apartment building needs and energy requirements
Overall, there are five main factors that will affect your ultimate decision in choosing energy for your property.
- Cost Considerations: Consider the current cost of gas and electricity in your area, the payback period for energy-efficient upgrades, as well as any future pricing trends.
- Building Infrastructure Compatibility: Assess the condition of your building’s infrastructure, including wiring, gas lines, and HVAC systems. Determine whether any upgrades or modifications are necessary to support a new energy source.
- Energy Source Availability: Check the availability of natural gas and electricity in your location. In some areas, natural gas may not be accessible, making electricity the default option.
- Environmental Impact and Sustainability: Align your energy source selection with your sustainability goals and consider the environmental impact of your choice. Look for opportunities to switch to renewable energy sources.
- Safety and Regulations: Comply with safety regulations and codes for both gas and electrical systems. Ensure your building meets safety standards to protect both tenants and property.
What Energy Source is Right for Your Building?
In conclusion, choosing the right energy source for your rental property impacts tenants, operational costs, and the environment. Understanding the benefits, costs, and considerations for each energy source is essential. Consider costs, infrastructure, environmental impact, and safety to optimize your property’s energy use. Stay informed and proactive in this rapidly changing energy landscape. As one of the nation’s largest commercial energy brokers, Integrity Energy negotiates competitive prices, providing valuable insights to support you in your energy purchasing journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I switch from gas to electricity in an existing apartment building?
Yes, you can switch from gas to electricity in an existing building, however, this transition may require infrastructure modifications or system upgrades to accommodate electrical appliances and heating.
How do I determine the energy requirements for my building?
Assess your building’s energy requirements by considering factors like building size, units, climate, and appliance types. Conducting an energy audit can identify areas for improvement.
What are the average energy costs for apartment buildings?
Average energy costs for apartments vary by region. For current gas and electricity rates, our Integrity Energy representatives can provide you with a quote for the lowest available rates.
Are there any incentives or rebates for choosing renewable energy sources?
Many regions offer incentives, tax credits, and rebates for renewable energy adoption and energy-efficient systems. Check with local authorities and utilities for available incentives.
How can I improve energy efficiency in my building?
Enhance energy efficiency by upgrading appliances, lighting, and HVAC systems. Proper insulation and sealing will minimize energy loss. Educating tenants about energy-saving practices is also beneficial.
What safety measures should I consider when using gas or electricity in my building?
Ensure compliance with safety codes and regulations for gas and electrical systems. Install carbon monoxide detectors for gas and smoke detectors for electricity. Regular inspections and maintenance prevent hazardous situations.
Can I use both gas and electricity in an apartment building?
Yes, you can use both gas and electricity based on your property’s needs and infrastructure. Some systems, like hybrid heating, combine both sources for flexibility and efficiency.
How can I track and monitor energy usage in an apartment building?
Implement energy monitoring systems for common areas and individual units. Smart meters and energy management software help analyze usage, enabling informed decisions and potential cost savings.
For additional energy-related inquiries, we recommend visiting our General FAQ page.