Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Compared to heating oil, which is the other viable option in the Northeast US, natural gas is cheaper, generally more efficient, and largely idiot-proof. With heating oil, a big, very common problem is people not scheduling deliveries appropriately, so the tank runs dry, and sucks up sludge that has settled to the bottom, and then you have to do expensive maintenance to clean the system, bleed the lines, etc. Worse, if you lose heat in a cold snap in February or March, you have to worry about water pipes freezing up and bursting, which cause even more damage. Piped in natural gas is always on.

I'd love to use electric heat. Too bad electricity costs in my state are stupidly high. It's just beyond insane to heat with electricity here. If my state could do away with the ineptitude, graft and taste for purchasing energy based on political optics that cause those high prices I'd consider electric heat but there's still the always-on issue that would give me pause. Gas infrastructure is much more "always" than electrical infrastructure around here which usually goes out when you need heat the most.

In my state electricity is relatively cheap (~$0.10 per kWh) but gas is more like $0.01 per kWh equivalent energy yield. Given that the US (with fracking) is basically the Saudi Arabia of gas, it makes sense to bet on gas for the long run. Even with very efficient air source heat pumps (~300% efficiency) it still makes sense to go with gas heat, especially in a place that has many heating degree days.

As to the "always on" issue, you can purchase a fairly cheap generator that runs on natural gas or propane for backup - assuming that the gas is running, you can run your furnace fan to heat the house. And yes my experience is that gas never goes out but electricity sometimes does.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact