Tiny Leaks, Big Impacts: New Research Points to Urban Indoor Methane Leaks

Yves here. Some of my friends who claim to be on the enlightened side of the global warming issue are dogmatic that they won’t give up certain activities they know aren’t good for the planet, like cooking with gas. It turns out that gas stoves and gas heaters, really anything that uses a gas line, emits much more methane than previously recognized.

By Daniel Grossman, Ph.D., an award-winning freelance print journalist and radio and web producer with more than 20 years of experience. He earned his B.S. in physics and his Ph.D. in political science, both from MIT. Originally published at Yale Climate Connections

Methane, the major component of natural gas, punches way above its weight when it comes to damaging the climate. Humans send less than half a billion tons of methane into the air every year, only one percent of the amount of carbon dioxide we spew from our cars, homes and factories. Yet methane is responsible for about 20 percent of global warming. This fact should motivate humanity to reduce our reliance on natural gas as a fuel as quickly as possible and, in the meantime, plug even small leaks in the existing natural gas system from wells to gas-burning appliances, says Marc Fischer, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Researchers in Boston have been studying methane leakage in urban areas for eight years and the pandemic gave them a unique natural experiment to compare methane levels during the lockdown with those from normal activity. Publication of their findings this month give ammunition to scientists who have long contended that much more gas is leaking from city sources than has been widely believed. The findings suggest also that far more natural gas is seeping out from pipes and appliances in buildings than previously thought, and that slowing global warming requires fixing these leaks as soon as possible or, possibly, phasing the fuel out faster than policy makers are planning.

One strategy, said Maryann Sargent, a climate scientist at Harvard University and lead author of the new paper, might be to stop connecting new buildings to gas lines. “If you stop consuming, you stop emitting,” she said. “You could have more of an impact than you might think in reducing methane emissions now.”

Indoor Stoves, Heaters, Ovens and Gas-Powered Appliances 

For thousands of years methane generated by human endeavors has wafted into the air. Rice paddies and cattle produce it. Farming obviously still emits methane today. But the largest source now is production and distribution of natural gas (which is 90% methane) and, to a lesser extent, coal mining and oil. Natural gas usage is growing fast both in the U.S. and abroad, adding urgency to efforts to prevent leakage. Climate researchers have warned about methane leaks from gas wells, pipelines, and other fossil fuel production and transportation infrastructure. But methane emissions from urban sources in buildings – for instance, stoves, ovens, heaters, and other gas-fired appliances inside homes and business – have not been on most experts’ radar.

Sargent’s latest research could change that. In 2020, soon after the first reported Covid-19 deaths in the United States, Boston University sent home its 34,000 students and the vast majority of its 10,000 staff members. Along with BU’s several hundred buildings, BU’s Tsai Performance Center, near the center of the urban campus, locked its doors, but an electric pump kept drawing exterior air into the Tsai Center through a thin hose that snaked from the roof to a device called a gas concentration analyzer measuring the amount of methane in Boston’s air. The setup was part of Sargent’s study of how much natural gas escapes into the air around the city from appliances and the fuel’s labyrinthine supply network of indoor plumbing and underground pipelines.

Sargent’s research team included colleagues from BU, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Environmental Defense Fund, and other Harvard scientists. They analyzed methane measurements taken at BU and three other Boston-area sites. Sargent said the research record, much longer than that of any similar study, gave the team a unique view of emissions trends. “It kind of tells a story,” she says, offering researchers new insights into the location of leaks in Boston.

COVID Pandemic Opened Way for New Analysis, Understanding

Before the pandemic year, the long-term experiment was already on course to support a dawning realization that cities are an important source of natural gas releases, and to give some clues about where leaks occur. But the unprecedented global health crisis supplied an additional vein of data they hadn’t expected. The Covid quarantines enabled a clever natural experiment that probed how much gas escapes inside buildings such as those around the BU campus. When the pandemic closed the university, less natural gas leaked into the air. That result would not be expected if emissions leakage of methane inside buildings were negligible, as regulators have generally assumed.

The study could suggest new ideas for reducing leakage and avenues for further investigation, and it shows that many familiar objects around us are more threatening to the planet than has been imagined.

“That’s a marvelous result,” said Fischer, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientist, when he heard about the Covid findings. Fisher has spent more than a decade researching natural gas leakage.

He gave “three cheers” for the additional evidence that a large share of the unwanted, or “fugitive” emissions in Boston – and, by extension, in other cities – arise not only from leaky pipelines under streets, the usual suspect, but also from a combination of utility distribution equipment previously considered blameless and sources inside buildings.

Science at Work: How the Study Was Conducted

One day back in 2012, Fischer explains, he propped open the oak Arts and Crafts front door of his house, a couple of miles from downtown Berkeley. With help from Toby Haass Walpert, an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, Fischer fitted a heavy-duty nylon panel known as a blower door into the frame, completely blocking the passage.

The scientist and student switched on a fan secured to the cloth barrier like a window-mounted air conditioner. It blew air out of the house, creating negative pressure and preventing gasses inside the house from seeping out from anywhere other than through the blower door. For the next hour the scientist and student measured methane in the fan’s slipstream. They turned the kitchen stove on and off and, for calibration purposes, released a standardized puff of methane from a tank.

Fischer and Walpert’s investigations were the first serious attempt to determine how much natural gas leaks out of residential homes. The results surprised them.

Most of the effort to stanch natural gas leakage in the United States focuses on wells, processing facilities, and the 300,000 miles of high-capacity pipeline. According to one well-regarded assessment of methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas supply chain, 12 million tons of natural gas, or about 2.5 percent of production, escape each year from this infrastructure before arriving in urban areas.

Utility interests and regulators long have insisted that, compared to releases in the production and long-distance transport of natural gas, urban leakage is small. Their argument relies on the inventory method for estimating leaks, a procedure only an accountant could love. Leakage from each component in a city’s gas distribution network, including every mile of pipeline and every valve and gas meter, is estimated and tallied up. Regulators usually don’t even bother to include emissions occurring inside residences and commercial buildings, which they have considered very low.

A calculation of leaks using the inventory method with data published by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection determines that 0.4 percent of the natural gas supplied to the state’s urban distribution network escapes: It’s a small figure compared to losses in long-distance production and transport of natural gas. But Sargent says that her research shows that the inventory method low-balls fugitive urban emissions. It also suggests that a large share of the uncounted urban emissions might emerge from inside buildings. To come to that conclusion, she and her colleagues used a distinctly different technique.

For more than a decade, some researchers have studied urban leaks by making direct measurements of the amount of methane in urban air. Their results have raised doubts about inventory studies and have caused concern that large leaks in urban areas have been overlooked. For instance, one paper that made direct air measurements found that 1 percent to 2 percent of the natural gas entering the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., region escapes into the air: That’s about 10 times as much as the inventory method suggests.

Sargent says calculating emissions by measuring methane in ambient air is complicated. She and her colleagues set up a network of ambient detectors, built a computer model of the air flow around Boston, and collected a huge database of known methane sources, including the natural (such as marshes) and human-made (such as landfills).

The investigators established background levels of methane – levels unaffected by local gas leaks – with tower-mounted detectors set up at two rural sites just outside the metropolis. Using fine-grained meteorological records, the scientists modeled step-by-step paths of hypothetical air parcels transiting from the region’s outskirts to the detector at BU, and another on top of a downtown skyscraper. At increments in the simulated trips, the researchers boosted the methane in the made-up parcels by the amount that would be gained from the actual gas sources at those geographic locations. When simulated portions of air hypothetically arrived at a detector, they should have contained as much methane as actual gas measured there, assuming all methane sources had been properly inventoried.

Efforts to Reduce Leaks Under Streets ‘Didn’t Make Difference in Atmosphere’ … Why? 

But the simulated methane figures didn’t match up with actual measurements. There must be unknown sources somewhere. To make the numbers work, the scientists determined that 2.5% of natural gas delivered to Boston must escape into the air, six times the amount suggested by figures used by Massachusetts regulators.

“We know this is coming from the natural gas system,” Sargent says. Yet “we don’t know what part of the system” is leaking. However, in addition to the results from the Covid shutdown, the researchers’ paper does provide some clues.

Over the eight years examined, Boston’s annual average emissions remained level, despite substantial efforts by utilities to plug distribution leaks under streets. Between 2012 and 2019, utilities replaced 1,000 miles of antiquated cast and wrought iron mains with modern plastic pipe. “And guess what,” says Sargent, “it didn’t make any difference in the atmosphere. We can’t even see the impact of it.” This conclusion suggests that leaky pipes and valves buried underground might be only a part, perhaps a small part, of the problem, she says.

Seasonal trends tell the same story. The authors of the new research found that leakage increases in winter, when natural gas usage, for heating buildings, is highest, and declines in summer. “That’s kind of a sign that maybe we shouldn’t actually be looking at the pipeline system in terms of the biggest sources of natural gas losses,” says Sargent. Distribution mains are pressurized year-round, she explains. If distribution pipes were the only big source of fugitive emissions, leakage would not change much between seasons.

The Boston research points to the probability of considerable leakage from residential and commercial buildings, though the researchers say there are probably also uncharted leaks in the urban distribution network.

Evidence Leads to Greater Investigation

Fischer says he has been expecting results like this for years. When he studied his house in 2012, he noted that nearly 1 percent of the natural gas supplied to it escaped. “Whoa, we should look at some other houses,” he recalls thinking. A few years later, he surveyed natural gas escaping from a sampling of 75 California houses.

He and colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley reported in a 2018 paper that on average, California homes lose 0.5 percent of their natural gas, a figure far higher than generally assumed at that time. That’s one-sixth of California’s leaked natural gas, or 35,000 tons of methane.

Natalie Pekney, an environmental engineer at the National Energy Technology Laboratory, was intrigued when she read these findings. “Maybe this does merit further investigation,” she thought. “Maybe it could be something that’s significant.” She and a coauthor later published their own paper highlighting evidence that sizable amounts of natural gas escapes from houses.

Fischer’s own house leaked more natural gas than almost any he ever found: Not enough to be a health or safety risk, but not so good for the planet. He blames the high losses in his house on an outdated stove with inefficient pilot lights and a tankless water heater that expelled a lot of gas before the flame takes when turned on. He has since shut off his pilot lights.

Not as much attention has been given yet to commercial establishments, such as restaurants, but Sargent says she thinks they’re also part of the problem. The pandemic decline in methane leaks around BU, a neighborhood crammed with offices, restaurants, and laboratories, suggests that leakages come from operation of appliances. If the worst offenders could be identified, perhaps they could be repaired or redesigned.

Or, maybe we have to “just move away from natural gas altogether,” Sargent says. That’s what Fischer is planning. He’s installing solar panels that, along with electricity sourced from non-fossil fuel generation, will halt reliance on natural gas.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. PlutoniumKun

    I find it interesting that even some of the most detailed assessments of climate change largely ignore the enormous problem of small scale methane emissions. ‘Drawdown‘, one of the best out there, doesn’t even mention it in the top 50.

    Fugitive methane from multiple sources is an enormous problem, one that could well be the straw that makes a sustainable future impossible. It is leaking from old coal mines, from land reclamation schemes, from landfills, from century old boreholes, from piggeries, from hydroelectric schemes and reservoirs, from grain fed cattle, from sewage pipes,…. the list goes on and on.

    Its perhaps a little off-topic, but Vaclav Smil, one of the favourite ‘energy experts’ often quoted far and wide, was a huge proponent of the use of natural gas as a ‘transition fuel to renewables’ back in the 1990’s. It was a remarkably dangerous policy to follow then, and we are reaping the whirlwind now. Those of us who pointed his out back then were dismissed as being ‘unrealistic’. He still hasn’t recanted, he is making a good income telling everyone who will pay him how expensive and unrealistic it is to depend on renewable energy.

  2. Jackiebass63

    I remember years ago when the local gas company installed a new meter. As part of the process the tested all of my interior gas connections for leaks. It surprised me that they found 3 leaks. None were big enough to smell but their sensor detected then. They fixed all of the leaks. Probably most houses that use gas have one or more small leaks they aren’t aware of.

    1. Copeland

      We moved in to a newly built house in June, we have a gas cook-top. My wife occasionally smelled gas near the cook-top for several weeks after moving in, then I started to smell it too (usually I’m hyper-sensitive to odors, not this time). Finally I opened the cabinet drawers under the cook-top to investigate and the gas odor was intense down there.

      Called the gas company right away and they arrived in minutes. The techs electronic sniffer detected absolutely nothing when just using the digital display, but when he turned on the audible clicker it finally detected gas, while the display that was supposed to show how much gas was being detected continued to show zero!

      He found one fitting that “appeared to be leaking”….maybe, so he re-did the fitting with sealant and tightened it down again. Haven’t smelled gas since.

      We had the option of gas or electric cook-top. We chose gas because in our last house in Cascadia big trees falling on power lines in wind storms often caused power outages, gas offered another level of resiliency.

  3. Dave

    Having tried a single burner induction cooktop I would happily swap out my whole gas stove. The only obstacle is the cost of the switch. Same with the gas water heater. But they shouldn’t be building new homes with gas appliances. I don’t expect this change to happen, thanks to all the celebration of gas as a bridge fuel.

    1. Kris Alman

      Fugitive methane released at Permian Basin wellheads prompted me to take a long look at our natural gas consumption.

      Our late ’50s home was a model home for the local electric company, Portland General Electric, after it was built. When we bought the home, we paid natural gas bills to heat a pool. Soon afterward, we converted to solar thermal.

      But with a natural gas line, the trap was set for cheap, “clean” natural gas. First it was a gas water heater; then a gas furnace (which replaced an old furnace juiced by petroleum stored in an underground tank that had to be be decommissioned). Then a dual-fuel range. Then converting our wood fireplaces to gas. Sigh!

      Since the summer of 2018, we progressively turned back the clock, replacing with electric as our older appliances fizzled. High efficiency Mitsubishi heat pump with supplemental heat strips for back-up on coldest days (rare in Portland); electric heat pump water heater; induction oven; reconversion to wood stove (back-up heating for when our electricity inevitably goes out…) and an electric car. One car for me and my retired husband is more than sufficient.

      We also beefed up the insulation in the attic and around the vents.

      One can convert therms to kWh by multiplying by 29.3. Our annual kWh plummeted from 48,000 in 2018 (which partially benefitted from the new heat pump) to 28,000 in 2020. Despite using electricity to fuel our car, we are on track to use even less energy this year because the heat pump water heater, the EV and the induction range were big ticket items this year.

      And the costs? Far less than what we were paying in 2018 dollars, especially when you factor in the cost of gas to fuel our car.

      Renters are at the mercy of their landlords who don’t give a s*&^ when they don’t pay utility bills.

      Of course, weaning the grid from natural gas is going to be a long haul until battery storage becomes more feasible to deal with variable renewable energy resources.

      Moral to this story: If you are a homeowner, replace your aging gas appliances and vehicle with high efficiency electric. Seek rebates where you can. It’s worth it!

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Where I live, gas is not sold by the “therm”. It is sold by the ” CCF “, which stands for Hundred Cubic Feet. I guess if you use cubic feet and not Hundred Cubic Feets, they can calculate prices for fractions of a Hundred Cubic Feet block that you may use.

        So . . . . how do “therms” and “cubic feet” interconvert? How many Cubic Feet of natgas in a “therm”?

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I asked a question about converting “therms” to “cubic feet” of natural gas which went into moderation. But then I decided to see if Mr. Web would tell me without an agony of searching. And I found this:

        ” The cubic feet of natural gas unit number 99.98 cu ft N.G. converts to 1 thm, one therm US. It is the EQUAL energy value of 1 therm US but in the cubic feet of natural gas energy unit alternative. 1 therm US to cubic feet of natural gas = 99.98 cu ft N.G.”

        I find it easier to think of one therm as equaling a whole 100 cubic feet of natgas rather than 99.8 cubic feet. Calling it an even hundred will help me think about this more easily without underestimating my home use of “therms”.

        In the good months ( late spring to early fall) I use 0.1 CCF per day. In other words 0.1 therm per day. In the bad months ( late fall to early spring) I use 2 CCF per day, up to 3 CCF per day in the worst of winter.

        So I use 18.6 therms over the good months and on average 1500 therms per year over the bad months, for 1518.6 therms over the whole year. If I multiply that by 29.3 I get myself using 4395 kilowatt-hours “worth” of therms of natgas per year.

        So unless I did the conversioning wrong or did the final multiplication wrong, or did it all wrong, I think I am already doing sorta pretty good for using not that much kwhours-worth of therms per year of natgas.

        Am I wrong to think so?

    2. Joe Well

      I was 100% pro-gas stove because growing up, the electric ranges were so awful.

      The new ones are far better. There needs to be a full-court press to sell the new electric ranges.

    3. Rudolf

      Induction electrics are fantastic. They are far cheaper than standard electrics: cheaper, much faster than gas, much easier to clean and maintain, much better and more precise heat control, and zero in house emissions. If you like to prepare your own meals, induction is far and away superior to gas.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        As long as there is enough electricity to run them at the same time as we run every other electric thing throughout society. If there isn’t, then they aren’t.

    4. KFritz

      I used an induction stovetop for 2 weeks (as a house sitter), and the experience wasn’t as positive as other posters here. Most notably, the surface was delicate–easy to scratch and mar–and difficult to clean. It was like cooking on top of a museum exhifibt. Only the most fastidious (definitely not moi) need apply. Not to mention that most of my basic stovetop cookware, accumulated over the course of 45 years, would need to be jettisoned if I wound up with that cooktop in my own residence

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        How much more carbon would we have to skydump in order to make a whole new fleet of a billion induction electric cookstoves? And how much carbon would we have to skydump in order to make 5 to 10 billion new induction-compatible pots, pans , kettles and etc.?

        And if we do all that, all the carbon we skydumped to begin with to make all the non-induction stoves and all the induction-not-compatible cookware will have been skydumped for nothing.

        So between those two huge piles of skydumped carbon, where will world-wide inductionization of all stoves and cookware leave us?

  4. Dave in Austin

    Leakage problems among distributed owners and users are always harder to fix than problems in large installations with one user in control. The studies and examples given in these apparently excellent research articles indicate that within the users’ offices and homes it is not the pipes that are leaking. It is more akin to the problem we see in cars: valves wear and leak and the “ramp-up and ramp-down” of burning leads to inefficient burning and thus fuel escaping into the atmosphere. In cars the answer was valves with longer-wearing seals and more complicated and more rapid monitoring of the fuel-air mixture, all of which costs money.

    The saving grace with cars is that the states inspect them every year-or-two and they last on the average only 10-12 years. Gas stoves last forever and gas hot water heaters properly maintained (periodically drained) can last for decades. So unlike cars and leaks in domestic water systems (usually caused by old toilets and fawcets), it is hard to monitor these gas leaks, assign ownership of leaked gas, and force the offending user to either pay a penalty or fix the leak without very intrusive, mandatory inspections- like we do with cars. But with cars we use the “it isn’t a right but a privilege” stick to beat the often poor consumer into submission. Gas leaks in homes are a much harder problem to manage.

    Thanks for this unexpected article. Just one more unmanaged side effect of aging infastructure in the US.

    1. Rudolf

      Electric cars eliminate all the headaches illustrated above and their longevity is far longer than traditional ICE vehicles. Plus they are super fun to drive. Yes, there’s still some problems with batteries and sourcing/refining of raw materials, but that’s also true for fossil fuels. Infrastructure limitations are the choke points for EVs that are just starting to be addressed.

  5. Eric377

    So long as replacing residential gas does not become a decrease in material well-being, it will proceed as systems get to their replacement points. If replacement costs are similar, operating costs not higher and the energy source is deemed reliable, gas will be replaced. In the US it would help to clearly reject significant lowering of energy use as an objective. If we end up with patterns of living that use less energy but don’t compromise perceptions of well-being that will be okay, but it will be hard to shake the perception that a critical goal of a new energy system is lower standards of living without loudly and repeatedly saying that it isn’t.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      ” Saying” it isn’t won’t be good enough. “Showing” it isn’t will be necessary.

  6. Gregorio

    Everything else in the house is running off solar now, but there’s no way on God’s green earth that my wife is ever giving up her 1954 Okeefe & Merritt gas range.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Nor will I give up my gas stove. If they shut off my gas, I will see if I can get it refitted to use propane, if there is still tanks of propane.

      If there isn’t, then I will simple refit my gas stove to cook with wood.

  7. Mike Smitka

    I live in a rural area and use propane (which is a propane/butane mix). Other than generating CO2 when it’s burned, LP gas is thus insignificant from a GHG perspective. Methane is CH4 and ethane is C2H6, so boil at much lower temperatures than propane C3H8 and butane C4H10 (-160ºC and -89ºC vs -40ºC = -40ºF and 0ºC = 32ºF) and won’t make it into the mix. Propane and butane are also heavier than air, which does make leaks more dangerous: propane/butane hugs the ground, natural gas dissipates very quickly.

  8. Starry Gordon

    Can hydrogen be used? I know there are problems with storing it (fx with vehicular use) but not about whether it can be piped.

  9. Anthony Stegman

    In the northern half of California folks rely on a criminally negligent investor owned utility (PG&E) to provide electricity. Switching from natural gas to electric appliances is fraught with issues – reliability, safety, as well as high cost. Some cities in the SF Bay Area have mandated that new homes and major renovations have all electric appliances. This sounds laudable, but switching existing homes to all electric is a non-starter and will not be accepted by folks who are stuck with PG&E.

  10. vlade

    This is interesting, as it suggest pretty bad burning efficiency for the NG appliances.

    That is because NG is mostly methane, in fact, ideally it would be only methane. So gas appliances creating methane indicates inefficient/bad burning.

    Which I get for stoves, but am surprised for new generation (condensing) boilers and water heaters.

    Looking around, it looks like the actual burning is ok, and the problem is ignition and extinguishment, especially for tankless water heaters, which need a more powerful burners and have more of I/E cycles.

    1. vlade

      As an aside, that suggests that CNG cars can be a significant source of methane, if the engine’s not very very efficient. I guess you could reduce the methane content by secondary burning, but that’s more complications again.

  11. BeliTsari

    Kinda academic, anyway. We’d “stopped” ACP, Constitution & PennEast (trying again on Mariner East 2 & other ethane pipelines & gathering system, in fracked Marcellus plays), BUT, my NYC building is switching from fuel-oil, as will scores-of-thousands of others. 15 peaking plants, which could theoretically burn dilbit, were busily tying into Spectra/ Williams “green” PA fracked gas, and ConEds been buying pipe as quickly as we could reject it in surrounding pipe and coating plants. We’d watched West End Ave torn-up yearly to do tie-ins & laterals. My partner asked why her flame’s yellow & green. I’d joke, it was the malignant blood of Pennsylvania’s kids, or Radon gas, take your pick?




  12. BeliTsari

    Kinda academic, anyway. We’d “stopped” ACP, Constitution & PennEast (trying again on Mariner East 2 & other ethane pipelines & gathering system, in fracked Marcellus plays), BUT, my NYC building is switching from fuel-oil, as will scores-of-thousands of others. 15 peaking plants, which could theoretically burn dilbit, were busily tying into Spectra/ Williams “green” PA fracked gas, and ConEds been buying pipe as quickly as we could reject it in surrounding pipe and coating plants. We’d watched West End Ave torn-up yearly to do tie-ins & laterals. My partner asked why her flame’s yellow & green. I’d joke, it was the malignant blood of Pennsylvania’s kids, or Radon gas, take your pick?

  13. BeliTsari

    Kinda academic, anyway. We’d “stopped” ACP, Constitution & PennEast (trying again on Mariner East 2 & other ethane pipelines & gathering system, in fracked Marcellus plays), BUT, my NYC building is switching from fuel-oil, as will scores-of-thousands of others. 15 peaking plants, which could theoretically burn dilbit, were busily tying into Spectra/ Williams “green” PA fracked gas, and ConEd’s been buying pipe as quickly as we could reject it in surrounding pipe and coating plants. We’d watched West End Ave torn-up yearly to do tie-ins & laterals. My partner asked why her flame’s yellow & green. I’d joke, it was the malignant blood of Pennsylvania’s kids, or Radon gas, take your pick?





  14. Gregory Etchason

    The EU killed the diesel based on roadside N02 levels of 17. After the deed was done they discovered N02 levels adjacent to a gas range in use was over 700.

  15. solarjay

    Here are some numbers to think about:
    Roughly 140, million homes
    Roughly 45% have gas, and say all of those have gas ranges, hot water heaters and furnaces ( 63 million)
    Cheapest induction electric stove/oven that I found: $1000
    Cost to install: $500
    Cost to bring in 40 amp 240vac circuit: $500-1000
    Rough total:$2500
    $2500 x 63 million is 157 billion dollars, divided by 10 years is 15.7$ Billion per year. Last year the US installed about 17 GW ( billion watts of solar) and utility scale solar is $1 per watt or 17$ billion dollars. Just about what this would cost.

    Now if we have 45 million stoves to install in 10 years that is 4.5 million per year, or 18,000 per day. And who exactly is going to do that? That is a lot of service people.

    Then you are going to have to tell people that their utility bill will go up as for most people electricity is more expensive than gas, thats why they are using gas. And if you live in say California or other states/utilities with time of use or demand charges, ( which usually occurs in the evening when you would be roasting a chicken for dinner) your monthly energy bill will even higher.

    And if you follow the electric load a bit further, if you are going to convert the least use of gas in a home, the stove to electric you would then do the hot water heater ( more expensive to upgrade than stove) and space heating ( way more expensive yet to upgrade) , all adding greatly to the electric load of the grid, which is already stressed due to lack of upgrades and maintenance. Can the grid/grid in your area handle it?

    I’m a solar guy, I’m not saying don’t do this, I’m asking, is this the place to start with hundreds of billions of dollars? I don’t have the answer if its better or maybe more importantly is it faster to put the $ towards installing utility scale solar to offset the 60% of fossil fuel powered grid?

    This article as they mostly do, ignores the hard costs of changing from gas to electric.

    As a last aside, when I used to be a plumber, to have 2% gas leakage in a house with propane would be really noticeable. I mean if you pilot light goes out, you smell it almost immediately. Natural gas not so much, but still I think you’d smell it. I have no data to say if this study is correct or not. And maybe deep in the notes it breaks it all down as to where these leaks are located.

    1. juno mas

      As a previous commenter said, propane is heavier than air. So it pools on the floor (or basement). Much more dangerous than natural gas that way. While both gasses have added odorizers to alert humans to leakage, pooled propane is quickly more discernable.

      1. Solarjay

        Pools, but it still mixes.
        It doesn’t pool down like water, it is still mixing with air snd the air is moving, like when you walk around.

        Hence you’ll smell it.

    2. Carla

      We’re going to have to replace our ancient clothes dryer soon, and I was thinking of switching from a natural gas to an electric dryer. But here in Ohio, virtually all our electricity comes from power plants that are fueled by either natural gas or coal, so what’s the point? Here is a sobering profile of the energy picture in Ohio:


  16. drumlin woodchuckles

    How much money would it cost to do yearly inspections of every aspect of every natural gas everything in every area served by natgas?

    How much would natgas bills have to be raised to raise the money to do all those yearly inspections ( and repairs or replacements or retunings to bring natgas leakage down to zero?

Comments are closed.