An unseasonably cold winter has many implications, one being the increased demand for natural gas to heat homes across the country. Due to this drastic demand, it is no surprise that working gas in storage is much lower than last year. The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently reported that natural gas totaled 1.44 trillion cubic feet, while the same period last year totaled 2.42 trillion cubic feet. These low storage numbers continue to drop below the EIA’s five-year calculations.
Stocks and natural gas prices have been affected by this inventory decline. Consumers were forced to pay a five-year high of $6.15 per billion BTUs (British thermal units) in late February. In just a week’s time, the prices had increased almost $.50. Large natural gas producers in the United States are seeing the effects as well. Exxon Mobil Corporation was up about 0.8%, Chesapeake Energy Corp. was up 0.2% and EOG Resources Inc. was up 0.9%. Additionally, The U.S. Natural Gas Fun, which tracks spot prices, was down 0.6%, whereas The Market Vector Oil Services ETF, which includes major drillers and service companies, was up 0.4%.
However, the anticipation of warmer temperatures will lessen prices. Stephen Schork, President of Schork Group Inc., a consulting group in Pennsylvania explains, “This is a pretty good sign the run-up has run its course. Demand is going to remain strong, but we are at the end of the season and prices aren’t reacting the way they would have a month ago. At these prices, production is going to be very strong.” The beginning of March marked the first monthly decline since September and futures dropped 25 percent, one of the biggest one-week price drops since 1996.
Although this winter was one of highs and lows, the spring forecasts look promising and has again led to a decline in natural gas futures.
There is no better feeling than hurrying in to a warm, cozy home during this blistering cold winter. Without a furnace, our houses would be freezing. That is why maintaining and annually inspecting your furnace is important. This will assure that it is in good working condition and will help save you money on heating costs. Some of the inspection and repairs can be done yourself, while others are more complex and require professional services.
Furnace manufacturers recommend a professional inspection to be done annually. Some of the services completed include checking the ventilation system for leaks or blockage, ensuring that the blower access door is sealed, inspecting for rust and corrosion on the heat exchanger and analyzing the combustion gases to compare them with the unit specifications. They may also check the burners, drainage system and the filters. Hiring a professional may seem unnecessary, but most homeowners are not knowledgeable enough to complete all these tasks confidently. In fact, some technicians claim that 75 percent of homes without heat in the winter are due to lack of maintenance.
A few steps of regular maintenance can be done yourself throughout the year to keep the furnace in tip-top condition. Keeping your furnace clean is most essential. Dirt can potentially cause the furnace to overheat and it decreases its efficiency. The three main areas to clean are the motor, the blower and the filter. The filter can easily be inspected by take it out and holding it up to the light to examine it. If it looks clogged you can simply purchase a new filter of the same size and type. A permanent filter, on the other hand, can be sprayed with a chemical to help it stay clean as well. This chemical spray is available at most hardware stores.
Whether you are doing your own assessment or calling in the professionals, servicing your furnace is a key element in preparing for cold temperatures. Checking it can often be overlooked, but it is better to be safe than sorry. You wouldn’t want to have a breakdown in the dead of winter. Regular inspections can be done at home by cleaning the filter, while more complex services will require annual visits from the experts.
There are many factors that impact the distribution of natural gas and the cold weather is one of the most notable. The ways in which cold weather can impact the access to the significant resource is commonly acknowledged through prices, demand and withdraw. There are several factors to consider but the most obvious are those that directly affect the consumers.
When the temperatures drop the need for the resource increases and our budgets will stretch to accommodate for the purchase. It is no mystery that our economy has learned there are places to save a few dollars yet some necessities, like natural gas, are worth the asking price. Regardless of the costs we find it necessary to meet the needs of our lifestyle more so than ever in the uncontrollable temperature of the winter months.
While price reflects the most direct impact on the distribution of natural gas the demand is also a part of the equation. Majority of US homes are utilizing natural gas, and certain areas experience different highs and lows which will embark upon the distribution levels expected for each region. The impact a winter has on the varying locations will drive the demand and in return the demand will call for more extraction.
The withdraw of natural gas consists of a process that can be overwhelming. When the cold weather hits the states it spirals down to the extreme, and absolute critical, need to heat homes and remain safe. The truth of the drilling matter is that there will be increased extraction that will call for an increase in mechanical needs and the obligation to stray from contracts to provide for the high demands. It is a circle of life for the resource as the price will be paid, the demands will be accommodated, and the drilling will go on.
Natural gas is one valuable resource that contributes to most of our daily conveniences. The weather will fluctuate many variables regarding the distribution but it will remain a constant need for many.
In our busy everyday lives it can be easy to ignore the complex processes that allow us to complete our day to day tasks. You may have never asked yourself before, but where would we be without natural gas? Although it may not seem relevant to your life, natural gas is one of the most valuable energy resources because it is used in a variety of ways. Without natural gas we would have less electric power, fewer heating sources and more polluted transportation.
Natural Gas Exploration Process
It is interesting to look at the exploration of natural gas, which begins as geologists examine the earth’s surface in the hopes of finding where gas or petroleum deposits exist. Thanks to advanced technologies, the search has become much easier in the last 20 years. Often times, natural gas reservoirs are characterized by anticline slopes and domes. Mapping and surveying the land for these formations combined with knowledge of particular rock formations makes finding natural gas much easier.
Another aid in natural gas exploration came with seismology, a study of how energy moves through the earth in seismic waves, interacting differently with different types of underground formations. The study was first used to measure earthquakes, but eventually geologists began using the interactions to create artificial vibrations on the earth’s surface. After analyzing the vibrations they can better understand what lies beneath and more accurately determine if a reservoir has been located.
Seismology is used for both onshore and offshore exploration. Onshore seismic vibrations are detected by using a machine called a geophone which is embedded into the ground. The geophone gathers data and sends it to a seismic recording truck to be recorded and further interpreted. A similar process is used for offshore exploration but rather than a seismic truck, hydrophones are used to detect the underwater seismic waves. The hydrophones are towed behind a ship and send bursts of compressed air through the water that can travel through Earth’s crust and create a seismic reflection.
While the process of finding natural gas reservoirs is both a scientific and intricate process, it is one worth understanding; without it we may be at a loss of many of our daily resources.
The approach of spring means that it’s time to plan for your outdoor projects. Do you have excavation plans for your yard? If you will be digging around your residence for landscaping, home renovation or any other reason, you have more to consider then the supplies you will need or the time it takes to complete the project. There are also very important precautions that you need to take first for your own safety and the safety of others.
Do you live in one of the most energy efficient cities in the US? Recently the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy put out a list of the most energy efficient cities across the country.
“Energy efficiency may be the cheapest, most abundant, and most underutilized resource for local economic and community development,” says the ACEEE.
The scorecard that was formulated to determine the winners was based on the following criteria:
- Transportation – looking at energy efficient transportation and the accessibility as well as the city’s focus on location-efficient development
- Energy and Water Utilities – access that the community has to energy efficiency and water efficiency programs
- Local Government – looking into the efforts for energy efficiency in government operations and procurement
- Building Policies – looking at the requirements and incentives that encourage energy efficiency
- Community- Wide Initiatives – looking at community-wide efficiency efforts and goals
Top three most energy efficient cities in the U.S.
This winter has turned out to be one of the coldest ever recorded. Blowing winds and temperatures far below zero cancel school days and keep families pent up in their own homes. Unfortunately, this harsh weather can also have ill effects on a house. One common result that keeps plumbers on their toes is frozen pipes. Whether they are unheated interior pipes or those against an exterior wall, most any pipe runs the risk of freezing solid. In fact, it is one of the most common causes of property damage during the frigid winter months.