Natural gas, wood, electricity or alternative like solar?
It is not an idle question: what kind of fuel to use in the house.
Can we make an opinion?
Let's start with the easiest energy to understand.
1. Electricity from city/municipality. Convenient? Absolutely! Almost all devices we like use every day runs and designed for AC power. Even the computer which is in front of me designed for 220V AC power.
Can we live in this world without it? I guess we can. We can organize an alternative electricity for our household in the form of solar panels or wind generators.
But I will immediately postulate: it is much more expensive, to power my devices from the sun and in general to design the whole house to run on alternative energy.
How much electricity one person might need per day? Suppose 2K watts per hour? Although we must state this question in a way that make easy to calculate.
It is necessary to list what a person does per day: 8 hours somewhere at work, 7 hours asleep, 2 hours preparing food or eating food somewhere and the rest of hobby or household activity.
Even our hobby outside the house will need some electricity. All human activity requires energy.
Let's calculate with the most conservative point of view.
Let's suppose we do not need to heat the housing as if this is in the summer time.
Food. We cook at home or buy ready-made meal. Cooking at home is the cheapest way, even we use electricity for it. I could explain this bold statement with calculation, but let's move on without getting stuck on culinary discussion.
To, prepare food: A person eats 1kg of vegetables, proteins in the form of eggs, meat, poultry, fish, legumes, or grains. In simplified terms you can safely say 1 kg of something solid and 2 liters of liquid in a form of water. This is about 3kg of products or 600W to raise masses to a boiling state. Plus probably another 600W to cook this stuff for about 1 hour total. We do not look in to special dishes, which takes 3-4 hours of cooking. Total 1200-1500 watts. 360 days with food is 540K watts. I will try to make a few experiments with my electric pressure cooker, which is the most efficient way to prepare meal.
Some statisticians claim that a city dweller spends from 110KW per year to 300KW per year for residential space. So we are not too far with the above estimate.
Lighting: 2-3 places in the house are constantly lit from and even during the day some light are on, especially in the winter. Suppose it is 15 Watt LED bulbs. Thus we have between 5 pm and 10 am, plus 1 hour in the morning in total about 6 hours at 45 watts = 270 watts. Wow! Probably a bit too much! Let's save and turn off 1 light bulb or replace it with a less bright 10 watt and try to do a total of 30 watts for 6 hours. 180 watts ... a little better. In one year 64K Watts! Wow! 64KW only for very small lighting.
Suppose we do not have a hobby to use welding every day. But what are we doing for at least 4 hours? Let's say the lowest consumer hobby is to surf the web. 4 hours with a 10 inch tablet 20 watts of consumption is 80 watts. Let's even say: 100 watts. Per year 36KW.
But not everyone is so wasteful with their free time. There are culprits with jack hummers in Eastern Europe and there are people with soldering irons, drones and other types entertainment. Suppose this is an average hobby, between a joystick guy and a welder. A gamer hobby is 1000 watts of power per hour and let's say 4 hours untill that games can't do it no more ... it's 4000 watts per day or 1.5 Mega watts per year! Oops! Urgent: evict all renter- gamers or put them to work in the garden with a shovel. 1,500,000 watts! I can not believe it! Well, not all of us are like that, there are people with more peaceful hobbies; 2 hours of soldering is 120 watts per day, which is not even much more expense than to waste your time with a tablet on the Internet. This is 43KV per year. There is a hobby of something to drill or grind. Let's use 1000 watt drill and let's say 10 min per day. It is 170 watts per day. Which is also not so bad. It turns out that a creative person spends somewhere around 200 watts of electrical energy per day or 72K watts per year.
We probably still needs 15 watts per hour for a router (Internet) and some kind of small things like cell phones, headphones, razors (if you're not a fan of the Gillette, which is by the way MUCH more expensive than electric shaver). Let's assume it is 30 watts for all things in total, but it's 24 hours per day non stop. You could save big by turning them on as you need, but that requires constant attention. So 360 watts per day or 130K watts a year comes on!
How about shower? : 15min. per day and twice a week: 4KW, 2 times a week for 1/4 of an hour each, it will be 180kvatt a year.
Well, let's summarize: Food 540KW, Lighting 64KW, Hobbies 72KW, Communications 130KW, Shower 180KW, Refrigerator 180KW. Total: 1166KW! This is a modest 3.2KW per day or 134Watt per hour.
The reader has already become accustomed to Kilowatts. But KiloWatt is a lot of electricity! For example 1 square meter panel MIGHT produce within 1 days of generation around 1KW.
Statistics: In the US, a resident consumes about 4587K watts per year, in Russia-935KW, India: about 800KV per year. So here we have not gone too far from the statistics.
Can you reduse it? Probably you can. But this is all self-deception. Igor Ostretsov claims that we need 2KW at the minimum per hour per capita, where in the USA, people spends 20KW and China 2KW per person per hour.
Please understand: 2KW per hour spoken by Ostretsov is included all useful production or work or transport usage and all that is needed for a person in society. But we will take in the account only individual household usage.
In summer, during hot season, windows can be opened. Not much expense for heating the house. But in the winter, it is getting more difficult. By standards, you need 1KW per 10 meters square housing or in a small house 50 meters square-about 5 KW per hour. That is a lot of energy! You can shrink with smart moves to 2 KW: keep temperature at 16 degrees in the room and not even heating some places. In a year it is 4 months for 30 days for 24 hours - 5760KW. That number has to be added to the above mentioned electricity usage. As we can see the heaing is the largest energy expense. And in some cases it is 10 times bigger any other energy usage.
Let's separate the wheat from the chaff: 446KWATT for all sorts of activity and 6460KW for heat in one form or another. It electricity cost 10 cent for 1KWT, this is 44.6doll and 646dol respectively.
Let's change our interest to natural gas:
Electricity consumption drops sharply to 626 kWh. With our habbits to use Internet or something invent or engineer, gas can not help, except with methane from the stomach But here we will attempt to cook food on fire. Yes, and you can take a shower, too by heating water with gas. The heating the house can also be done by gas. Since we somehow paid about $ 3000 for all the permits and expenses to connect to gas line, let's count the rest. 600 KWATT is left for electricity, and gas have to produce 5760 KW for heating, 180 KW for shower, a little bit to cook meal:540K. Total 6480KWATT or 23328KJoule, 1W = 3600Joule.
1 cubic meter of methane can produce in theory 10KW or maybe propane is not so energetic and there is very bad news: efficiency. 50-60%. After all, it takes 648 cub.meters of gas (or rather 1200 cubic meter due to 50% efficiency). We take the cost of gas about $0.3 per cubic meter. Total $360. Plus 3000dol for the permits and plus $1000 for the equipment let's say that was ammorize for 10 years. It’s 400 dollars per year. Also we must not forget, $760 per year electricity is still needed.
So we came to the conclusion: in this scenario, gas is not economic as a source of heat. If the government would tame bureaucrats and lower 3000 dollars for the gas permit, this will only make gas as almost equal to electricity.
Now let's see what happens if we bring firewood and put a wood stove at home.
Firewood expence to start: $600 for the furnace, 500 for the rest of the equipment such as pipes, indirect boiler, valves, etc. Total $ 1100 for equipment. Electricity is still needed: 6480-540, 5940KWT for heat but minus for food, which we will cook with electric power.
Heating with wood requares 1 hour per day our attention. What I don't like about this: I need to start up furnace in the morning and in the afternoon, and at least we have garbage in the house and under the nails.
Result: We used 2284kg of wood per year or 6 cubic meters. And this is $ 200 at today's prices. It seems cheeper than natural gas, but there is so much work! And lots of costs for electricity still remain.
Well, there remains oil, fuel oil, kerosene, oil ... Exotic, but there is such in the west as oil heating. By the way widespread in warm parts of Canada. We will not completely blather the reader and reduce it to one phrase — the same thing as with gas, but only with cylinders.
It was discussed in this article.