Natural Gas Basics
How is it used?
We use natural gas in many ways every day. We use natural gas for heating – more than half the homes in the U.S. are heated by natural gas. We also use natural gas for heating water. If you had a warm shower today it was probably courtesy of natural gas. Many people cook with natural gas and some clothes dryers run on natural gas. Fireplaces, barbecue grills and pool heaters may also use natural gas in our homes.
The biggest consumer of natural gas is industry. Natural gas provides the base ingredients for fertilizer to grow crops, antifreeze and fabrics. It’s used in paper production; metals, chemicals and petroleum refining; and glass, plastic and food processing. It is also used in waste treatment and incineration; medicines and makeup, home décor and sporting goods; as well as fueling aviation and producing hydrogen.
Transportation is another way we use natural gas. Although most cars run on gasoline (a liquid product from oil and different from natural gas), there are many natural gas vehicles across the country. Natural gas vehicles are increasing, since natural gas is one of the cleanest burning transportation fuels available. Natural gas vehicles are initially more expensive, but natural gas as a fuel is much less expensive than gasoline.
Another rapidly increasing use of natural gas is electrical generation. It’s a good choice to help provide the electricity we use and rely on daily because it is one of the cleanest burning fuels; it’s available (American made) and affordable. Natural gas provides approximately one quarter of the electricity we use in the U.S.
Natural gas enriches our lives in countless ways that are increasing. As it replaces other fuels it helps create energy independence. In 2012, all but six percent of the natural gas used in the U.S. was produced in the U.S.