How is Natural Gas Measured?
Natural gas is delivered to your home through a network of underground pipes. The piping comes out of the ground at the service riser and connects to the gas meter. FNG uses the gas meter to measure the amount of natural gas used by the customer. Residential and smaller commercial buildings have meters attached to the building. Larger commercial buildings have meters that sit on ground level.
The meter measures the volume of gas by counting the number of times a set volume passes through the meter. Each click of the dial represents 100 cubic feet, also called a CCF. To provide an example, an average home in Fairbanks may use 250 CCF or 25,000 cubic feet of gas in a typical January, when natural gas is used for heating only. For reference, 250 CCF of natural gas equates to about 190 gallons of #2 heating oil based on BTUs alone.
Calculate Your Bill
On or around the last day of the month, an FNG operator reads the gas meter. The current month's read is subtracted from the prior month's read. From this calculation, FNG determine's how many CCF has been used between the two reads or billing cycle.
Applying the 250 CCF common usage stated above, we can calculate the cost to heat the home. Using the Residential Rate, currently $2.335 per CCF (or $2.34 per therm), the monthly bill would be:
250 CCF x $2.335 = $583.75*
*Additional regulatory commission and customer charges are added to the final bill. This calculation is based on the meter read only and does not take boiler, heating system or home efficiencies (new gas models range between 80%-97%).
What is a BTU?
The heating industry calculates units of energy in British Thermal Units or BTUs.
BTU = the heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water 1 F°.
BTU = approximately the heat in one wooden match.
BTU Comparison of local fuels:
1 cubic foot of natural gas
1 gallon of #2 fuel oil
1 gallon of HD5 propane
1 ton of coal
16 million BTUs
1 kW of electricity
1 ton of wood pellets
13.9 million BTUs
1 cord white birch
20.3 million BTUs
- The national average for natural gas is 1,000 BTU/cf. FNG gas has 1,000 BTU/cf.
- National average for fule oil range between 135,000-140,000 BTU/gal. Because of extreme cold temperatures, Fairbanks consumers use a blend of #1 and #2 heating fuels.
- BTU rating for coal provided by North Pole Coal.
- BTU rating for wood pellets provided by Superior Pellets.
- BTU rating for white birch based on 1 year seasoned.
What are the Costs of Heating?
Many customers are interested in how natural gas costs compares to other sources of energy such as heating oil, propane or electricity. Listed below are few of the energy sources available in Fairbanks and their associated costs.
Energy Costs in Fairbanks*:
Natural Gas = $2.335 per hundred cubic feet
Cost comparison of other local fuels:
$2.335 per 100 cubic feet
#2 Fuel oil
$3.90 per gallon
$4.07 per gallon
$0.133 per pound
$0.19715 per kW
$295 per ton
$250 per cord
Natural Gas: FNG tariff states $2.335 per 100 cubic feet for residential use as of last tariff rate change effective 02/08. FNG must request a rate change and be approved with Regulatory Commission of Alaska as FNG is a public utility. #2 Heating Oil: Average price #2 Home Heating Oil for 500 gallon delivery in 11/11. Propane: Based on residential home heating delivered price in 09/11. Coal: Based on $6.00 per 45 pound bag at North Pole Coal bagged and pallatized, minimum 25 bags as of 11/11. Electricity: GVEA residential rate 09/11, inlcudes $0.08791 utility charge and $0.10924 fuel and power charge. Wood Pellets: Superior Pellets price delivered as of 11/11. Wood: White birch seasoned 1 year cut, split and delivered 09/11.
How Does Natural Gas Compare to Other Energy Sources?
The energy and fuel delivered to homes and businesses come in differing units, such as cubic feet, gallons or kilowatts. To fairly and more accurately compare them, the units are broken down into comparable units of heat, such as a BTU. To find the cost per BTU of natural gas we simply divide the cost per cubic foot by the BTUs in a cubic foot of gas:
= $0.02335/cubic foot
1,015 BTU/cubic foot
= $0.00002335 / BTU
= $23.35 / million BTU of Natural Gas
Do the same for heating oil and others:
#2 Fuel oil
Cost per million BTUs comparison of local fuels:
Natural gas can now be directly compared to other fuels, such as #2 heating oil. Take the computed cost per BTU of natural gas and multiply this number by the number of BTUs in a gallon of heating oil:
$0.00002335/BTU x 132,000 BTU/gallon
= $3.08 per gallon equivalent
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Natural gas costs less when heating oil is greater than $3.08 per gallon (residential).
Please note, this information is based on a BTU comparison only. Natural gas is competitive to heating oil. Other considerations that must be used is the efficency of your heating equipment. If you are interested in current residential or commercial rates or have questions regarding the figures above, please call our office at 452-7111.
What is a Heating Degree Day?
According to the American Gas Association (AGA) the definition of a Heating Degree Day is:
"A measure of the coldness of the weather experienced, based on the extent to which the daily mean temperature falls below a reference temperature, usually 65 degrees F."
For example: If the high temperature on December 9 was +13 F° and the low was -4 F°, than the average daily temperature was +5 F°. The difference between +65 F° and +5 F° is 60 F° giving us 60 heating degree days.
FNG uses heating degree days to gauge how warm or cold a certain billing cycle, month, season or year has been. Depending on how warm you keep your home or building, you can compare your fuel usage to seasonal averages or other comparisons. The average annual heating degrees for Fairbanks is about 14,000 heating degree days. FNG maintains the historical records of the heating degree days and are available at the office.