What is Natural Gas?
Natural gas (methane, CH4) comes from the decomposed remains of ancient plants
and animals. The erosion process carried these biological remains down rivers
and streams onto shorelines, where they were deposited along with mud and
silt. Intense heat and pressure transformed these fossils into hydrocarbons-
chemical compounds of hydrogen and carbon atoms. Depending on the arrangement
of the atoms, what were once sea plants and animals are now natural gas or
crude oil deposits contained in the earth's crust.
History of Natural Gas
Centuries ago, man noticed that lightning ignited natural gas seeping from
the ground and creating a "burning spring." Burning springs
of natural gas were prominent in religious practices of ancient Persia, Greece,
and India, where temples were constructed around these "eternal flames."
However, they did not recognize the energy value or potential usefulness of
natural gas. Ancient Chinese realized that natural gas could work for them.
About 500 B.C., they used natural gas to make portable water by piping it
from shallow wells through bamboo poles to evaporate salt from sea water.
The birthplace of natural gas in America is Fredonia, New York . In 1821,
Fredonia residents observed gas bubbles rising to the surface from a creek.
William Hart dug the first natural gas well in America along a creek outside
Fredonia. The well was approximately 27 feet deep. (By contrast, today's wells
are over 30, 000 feet deep.)
Other individuals expanded upon his work and a group of entrepreneurs
formed the Fredonia Gas Light Company, our nation's first natural gas company.
Natural gas drilling continued throughout western New York, Pennsylvania,
northern Ohio, and northern Indiana. By 1900, natural gas was discovered in
Natural gas continued to aggressively compete with manufactured gas into
the 1920's. In the 1950's, interstate pipelines reached across the entire
continent to provide competitive, naturally occurring natural gas, and manufactured
gas' dominance declined. America's interstate pipeline system now contains
over one million miles of pipe that deliver large quantities of clean, efficient
and cost-effective natural gas to different regions.
Natural Gas Facts
- Natural gas is lighter than air, non-toxic and contains no
poisonous ingredients. Breathing natural gas is not harmful as long as there
is an adequate supply of air to breathe along with it.
- Natural gas by itself will not burn. Combustion can occur
only when there is a mixture of gas and air containing between 5% and 15%
natural gas and between 95% and 85% air.
- Natural gas in its natural state is odorless. An odor that
smells like rotten eggs is added to natural gas so that you can smell it.
- Because of its unique qualities of being lighter than air
with a narrow band of combustion, natural gas is one of the safest energy
sources available. Understanding and following safety procedures will make
it even safer.
Natural Gas Safety
Natural gas has an odor similar to rotten eggs so that even the smallest
leaks can be detected. IF A STRONG ODOR OF GAS IS PRESENT
IN YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS, OR IF YOU HEAR A HISSING SOUND OF ESCAPING NATURAL
GAS, FOLLOW THIS PROCEDURE:
- Ensure everyone leaves the home/building immediately.
- Leave the door open.
- Use a neighbor’s phone or cellular phone outside
of the building to call Ripley Gas & Water at 635-1212
- DO NOT use the telephone in the
- DO NOT operate any electrical switches,
appliance controls, or pull any plugs from outlets.
- Close the cut-off valve near the gas meter and DO
NOT turn it on again.
- If possible, ventilate the building by opening the doors
and windows at top and bottom. Start where odor is strongest.
DO NOT re-enter the building for this purpose.
Please note: There is no charge for calling the gas company to check for
a gas leak.
Ripley Gas & Water is available to immediately respond 24 hours per
day, 365 days per year.
Call Before You Dig
Ripley Gas & Water would like to remind you of the importance
of having natural gas lines located, free of charge, before doing any digging.
Each year accidental line breaks of natural gas pipelines and other utilities
result in disruption of services, millions of dollars in damages, serious
injuries, and sometimes loss of life. Don't take chances......call in a locate
Tennessee One Call at
1-800-351-1111, at least 72 hours before you dig. We'll show you or your contractor where the gas lines
are located and help you avoid any problems. So, don't dig blind, give
Tennessee One Call a call. Note: All digging in the vicinity of piping
should be carefully done by hand. This will avoid the inconvenience of disrupted
service, personal injury and expensive repairs. Violation of the
"Call before you Dig" Act is a Class A misdemeanor and subject
to a fine up to $2, 500 and/or imprisonment for 48 hours. If a gas main or
service line is exposed during digging, call Ripley Gas & Water. Proper
attention to pipe that has been exposed will prevent problems later.
Customer Owned Lines
Federal Regulation Number 192.16 requires that we notify you to exercise
diligence regarding underground or buried gas piping. Buried pipe may be subject
to leakage and/or corrosion (corrosion may occur on metallic pipe) and could
potentially be subject to hazards if not maintained.
Remember that any and all gas pipe downstream of the gas meter (the "building"
side) belongs to you, the gas customer, and the gas customer is responsible
for maintenance and operation of this portion of the fuel line system. We
do not own the gas beyond the meter; therefore we do not routinely maintain
or locate fuel lines. Commercial plumbers and/ or heating contractors may
be contacted when gas fuel lines need attention.
Buried gas piping should be:
Periodically inspected for leaks;
Periodically inspected for corrosion if the piping is metallic;
Repaired if any unsafe condition is discovered, or the flow of gas should
be shut off;
and when excavation is performed or is about to be performed near the buried
gas piping, the piping should be located and marked in advance, and any excavating
performed near the pipe should be done by hand.
Natural Gas Appliance Safety
To ensure safety and efficiency, have your furnace, water heater
and other natural gas appliances inspected by a licensed technician once a
year. Also, do not store flammable liquids, paint or other flammable materials
near a furnace, stove or water heater. Keep the lint trap on your gas dryer clean
and the exhaust hose clear.
Hot Water Safety
Natural gas water heaters are a fast, efficient way to heat the water in
your home. But with any water heater, parents should exercise caution when
using hot water around small children, especially in the bath tub.
Tips for hot water safety in the bathtub
- To avoid scalding hot water in the bathtub and sinks, keep
your water heater set at a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live
in an apartment building, ask your landlord or property manager to check the
building's water heater. (It's also a great way to conserve energy.)
- Fill the bathtub by first turning on the cold water, then
add hot water. When the tub is almost filled, turn off the hot water. Then,
turn off the cold water.
- Before you place your child in the tub, put your hand all
the way in the water. Spread your fingers. Move your hand back and forth throughout
the length of the tub to check for hot spots
- Always stay with the child. Don't answer the phone or door.
If you must leave the bathroom, take your child with you.
Space Heater Safety
Ripley Gas & Water does not recommend the use of space heaters. However,
if you choose to use a space heater, please be safe.
- Fires and explosions can be caused by flammable fuels or
- Read and follow the manufacturers' operating instructions.
- Use space heaters that are tested and labeled by a nationally
recognized testing lab.
- Keep space heaters away from combustible products to avoid
- Indoor air pollution could be caused by improper venting
or incomplete combustion.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by improper venting of
fuel burning space heaters.
- Space heaters should have a guard around the flame or coil
area to protect children and pets.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Do not use space heaters overnight in bedrooms or any room
where you may sleep.
Carbon Monoxide Safety
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced when fuels
such as gasoline, fuel oil, propane, kerosene, natural gas, charcoal and wood
do not have an adequate oxygen supply to burn completely. The most common
sources are automobiles, and furnaces and boilers that haven't been properly
maintained. An estimated 10, 000 people are treated annually nationwide for
carbon monoxide poisoning - the most common cause was being vehicle fumes.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
- Flu-like symptoms: nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, vomiting,
- In many cases, victims are aware they are not well, but become
too disoriented to save themselves.
- Particularly vulnerable are pregnant women. Also: small children,
senior citizens and people with heart or respiratory problems.
- Have professional annual inspections and cleanings of heating
systems, vents, flues and chimneys.
- Occasionally conduct your own visual inspections. Look for
improper connections, rust, stains or water build up.
- Never leave a car running in a garage.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home,
especially near bedrooms. Alarms should meet requirements of the International
Approval Services Standard. Alarms can be recognized by the blue star, AGA
(American Gas Association)
design on the package.
If you suspect carbon monoxide, get fresh air and call 911.
Various Uses of Natural Gas
Natural gas heat is energy efficient, making maximum use of
every energy dollar you spend. Natural gas heats air up to around 120 degrees
Fahrenheit, keeping your home warm and comfortable even when temperatures
outside are well below freezing.
Natural gas burners regulate instantly. The heat is there when
you need it, saving time on meal preparation. There is no waiting for elements
to heat up or cool down- and gas burners heat evenly with no hot spots. You
can see and adjust the flame, so there's no guessing. You can sauté
or stir fry like the pros. Today's natural gas cook tops, ranges, double ovens
and professional style equipment are designed with contemporary kitchens in
Natural gas water heaters will help you make the most of your
energy dollar. Natural gas water heaters recharge quickly, so no more cold
showers! Most do not require electricity to operate, leaving you with hot
water even when the power is out.
As with cooking and heating, installation of a natural gas
clothes dryer can help you save valuable energy dollars. Clothes dry quickly
and efficiently. No heating elements to short, burn out, or replace.
Gas fireplaces provide safe and attractive units which supply
warmth, coziness, and efficiency desired in today's homes. With natural gas fireplaces,
you will never have to worry about sparks or flying embers. They are available
in vent free models and some models can be used in the bedroom. Please make
sure that the manufacturer's specifications are closely followed, as with
any natural gas appliance.
When using a gas grill, cooking time is reduced dramatically.
A hamburger patty, which would take twenty two minutes to cook on a charcoal
grill, may take only 9 to 10 minutes on a gas grill.
Do you know how much energy your natural gas appliances use? Before you take
steps to conserve, it’s helpful to know how many therms of natural
gas your appliances use on average.
Average Therms Used
0.23 therms per use
3 therms every 8 hours
These are only approximations.
You can save energy and still enjoy the comfort and reliability of clean,
efficient natural gas. Knowing how to conserve energy can help lower your
energy bills and balance your household budget. Try these free or low-cost
Heating and Cooling
- Set your thermostat at 65°-68° F during
the winter while you’re home during the day, and lower it at night
or while you’re away to 55°-58° F. Keep in mind
that seniors and individuals with health problems may require a warmer setting.
- Install a programmable thermostat that automatically
adjusts the temperature when you’re not at home. You could see an
annual savings by programming your thermostat five degrees lower for eight
hours per day during the winter.
- Use a humidifier in colder months. When air is moist,
you’ll feel warmer and you can keep your thermostat lower.
- Check your furnace filter frequently, and replace or clean
it once a month or as needed. A dirty filter can drive up the cost of heating
- Set your thermostat at 78° F or higher during the
- In winter, open draperies to let in the sun’s warmth
during the day; close draperies to slow the loss of heat through the glass
at night. In the summer, close curtains on sun-exposed windows.
- Rearrange furniture or shorten draperies so heating registers
and air returns aren’t blocked.
- Lower the temperature setting on your washing machine.
Most of the energy your washing machine uses is for heating water. Wash your
laundry with warm or cold water rather than hot; then rinse in cold water.
- Run only full loads in your dishwasher. Avoid the rinse-and-hold
cycle and save the seven to 10 gallons of water that pre-rinsing requires.
- Reduce the demand on your water heater by taking shorter
showers. Install water-saving, low-flow shower heads and set your water to
less than full force.
- Turn your water heater thermostat to no more than 120°
F or to the warm setting.
- Set your water temperature control to the pilot position
when your home is vacant for more than 2 days.
- Repair any dripping faucets (DRIP
- Make low-cost storm windows by placing
plastic over windows.
- Keep your freezer and refrigerator as full as possible.
- Position your refrigerator and freezer away from your cooking
range, when possible.
- Wash clothes in cold water. Most of today’s
laundry detergents work effectively in cold water.
- Clean the lint from your dryer after each use.
- Set your dishwasher on the low-temperature setting unless
your dishes are very dirty.
- Use the energy saver switch on your dishwasher
to shut off the drying element. That greatly reduces the energy used.
- Preheat your oven only if a recipe calls for it.
- Use microwaves, toaster ovens, and slow cookers to save energy
Insulation and Weather Stripping Tips
- Weatherize your home. Use caulking and weather stripping
around doors and windows to seal cracks and leaks. Hold a feather or a burning
incense stick in front of a window. If the feather or smoke moves away from
the window, you have a leak and should weatherize. See your local home improvement
retailer for classes and easy how-to tips.
- Check the insulation level in your attic. Proper insulation
can reduce your heating and cooling bills by up to 30 percent. If you have
less than seven inches of fiberglass insulation in your attic, consider adding
another layer. The higher the insulation value, the better protection you
have against cold and heat.
Save Water Indoors
- Fix leaky plumbing fixtures, faucets and appliances in the house.
- Show children how to turn off the faucets completely after each
- Locate your master water shut-off valve so that water can be
saved if a pipe bursts.
- Install aerators on every faucet. This could save you as much
as 1 gallon every minute you use them.
- Be aware! Listen for drips and leaks around the house (DRIP LOSS
Conserve in the Bathroom
- Switch to an ultra low-flow showerhead. This could save you
as much as 2.5 gallons every minute you shower.
- Take shorter showerstry to keep it under 5 minutes.
- Install ultra-low-flush toilets or place a plastic bottle filled
with water or sand in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used
in each flush.
- Put dye tablets or food coloring in your toilet tank and wait
to see if the color appears in the bowl (without flushing). If it does, you
have a leak!
- Check to assure that your toilet's flapper valve doesn’t
stay open after flushing.
- When taking a bath, start filling the tub with the drain already
plugged instead of waiting first for the water to get warm. Adjust the temperature
as the tubs begins to fill.
- Turn the faucet off while you shave, brush your teeth and lather
up your hands.
- Don’t use the toilet as a garbage can. Place a trash
can next to the toilet and use it instead.
Conserve in the Kitchen
- If you wash dishes by hand, fill one half of the sink with soapy
water and the other with clean water instead of letting the water run.
- Place a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of letting
the tap run to get a cool drink.
- Water your houseplants with water saved from washing your fruits
and vegetables, waiting for the water to warm up, or even when you clean your
- Select one glass to use for drinking each day. If you do this,
your dishwasher will take longer to fill up and it will not need to be run
- Thaw foods in the refrigerator or in a bowl of hot water instead
of using running water.
- Let your pots and pans soak instead of letting the water run
while you clean them.
- Scrape the food on your dishes into the garbage instead of using
water to rinse it down the disposal.
Save Water Outdoors
- Cover pools and spas to avoid evaporation.
- Sweep your driveways and sidewalks with a broom instead of spraying
them off with a hose.
- Check outdoor faucets, pipes, hoses and pools for leaks.
- Consider replacing infrequently used lawn areas with low-water
use plants or ground covers.
- Recycle and reuse the water in fountains and other ornamental
- Avoid bursting or freezing pipes by winterizing your outdoor
- Use a bucket of soapy water to wash your car, or simply place
a shut-off nozzle on the end of your hose.
Conserve in Your Landscape
- Visually inspect your sprinkler system once a month during daylight
hours. Check and fix any tilted, clogged or broken heads. Although watering
at night is recommended, you won't notice problems with your system unless
you see it in operation.
- Avoid watering your landscape during the hottest hours of the
day (10 am until 6 pm) to minimize evaporation.
- Water your landscape in cycles by reducing the number of minutes
on your timer and using multiple start times spaced one hour apart. This allows
the water to soak into the soil and avoids runoff.
- Water your lawn only when it needs it. If you leave footprints
on the grass, it is usually time to water.
- Turn your sprinkler system off during or after a rainstorm and
leave it off until the plants need to be watered again.
- Consider installing an automatic rain shutoff device on your
- Install drip irrigation systems for trees, shrubs and flowers.
- Check your sprinkler valves for leaks when checking all your
- Avoid watering your lawn on windy days.
- Watch out for broken sprinklers, open hydrants, broken pipes
and any other significant water losses in your community. Be sure to notify
the property owner or the water district of the problem.
- Make sure the water coming out of your sprinklers is not misting
and drifting away in the wind. This is usually caused by too high of pressureif
necessary, install a pressure reducer on your sprinkler line.
- Collect the runoff from your roof in a barrel and use it on
your plants and garden.