Electric vs. Natural Gas
Is it time to make the switch?

Electric vs. Natural Gas in Montana Homes: Should You Make the Switch?

If you’re a homeowner in Montana considering the switch to solar, saving money on utilities is likely on your mind. With electric rates for many Montana homeowners some of the highest in the region, the option to wipe out your power bill and generate all electricity for your home needs right on your rooftop is an attractive one.

However, if you’re one of the roughly half of Montanans who use natural gas to power their homes, even a switch to solar won’t see you completely owning your power. If you’re considering taking advantage of solar in the Big Sky State, it’s worth considering moving from natural gas to a fully electric home and making the most of owning your power.

With concerns from environmental impact to reduced air quality in your home, Montana homeowners have a variety of reasons to weigh whether electric or gas powered appliances are the best choice for home.

Is There a Reason to Keep Natural Gas in Your Home?

The central argument for sticking with natural gas as a power source for your home is to save money. But with natural gas costs from Montana power companies projected to rise 50-100% for homeowners this winter, natural gas users won’t see the cost savings they’ve grown accustomed to. Plus newer electric appliances regularly have better efficiency ratings than their gas counterparts, and natural gas and electric appliances have the same expected lifespan on average.

With a solar system installed that generates your electricity for free, your savings with an all electric home grow even more.

Switching to all electric appliances in Montana is easy, given that almost all homes are already wired and ready to go for a connection to your local electrical grid. The main downside is that uninstalling natural gas from your home comes with a cost. To make sure the old gas line attached to your home doesn’t become a safety hazard with leaks, you’ll have to pay your natural gas supplier to cap the line.

Since saving on your power bill with natural gas isn’t a given, you might be wondering what reasons there are to keep using it. Simply put: preference. More epicurean Montanans, or those with large families fond of hot water, might prefer natural gas appliances over electric appliances.

So if you prefer your steak pan-seared, or you’ve wound up in the doghouse with the family over using all the hot water during chilly Montana winters, you might prefer natural gas. Regardless of preference, it’s still important to be aware of the drawbacks natural gas use at home can have.

Why Do Homeowners Move Away From Natural Gas?

Fracking, a term that Most Montanans likely know given the vast shale deposits where natural gas production is common across the state, is often the top reason against the use of natural gas. The process for extracting natural gas has serious risks including chemical spills, degradation of the water supply, and overuse of public water sources in areas already at risk for droughts, with continued risk for pollution long after a well has been shuttered.

Beyond the threat of negative impacts from fracking projects in the unique badlands of Montana, there are other lesser known issues with natural gas use in the home. A study from Rocky Mountain Institute and Physicians for Social Responsibility found that the simple act of using a gas stove can produce higher than safe levels of Nitrogen Dioxide. Nitrogen Dioxide in the home has been linked to a variety of respiratory and cardiovascular issues.
This newly recognized risk couples with another risk most of us are already aware of: carbon monoxide poisoning from natural gas in our homes. Despite the addition of the rotten egg smell to help alert you, natural gas lines connected to your home continue to be a risk factor for deathly leaks.

Why Are Montana Homeowners Going All Electric?

First and foremost: electricity in the home is overwhelmingly safe. All electric appliances in your home can also result in better savings from better energy efficiency, being able to make the most of a solar system and energy independence, and being ready for the coming move towards carbon-free electricity. And, of course, with electric appliances there isn’t the risk of unsafe levels of nitrogen dioxide or gas leaks.

A sometimes overlooked reason to switch is that an all electric home means you can take advantage of technological advancements in home appliances. From the price of induction stovetops decreasing, and increased availability and capability of on-demand and tankless water heaters for endless hot showers, electric appliances are able to adapt and make use of new technology in ways gas appliances simply can’t. 

Montana homeowners looking to go solar may also cite concerns about their home’s environmental impact as a factor in the decision. Switching to electric from gas means that you’ll not only get to make the most of energy efficiency and cost savings and the perks of a solar power system, but can feel proud of the way your home helps contribute to Montana’s natural beauty. In part because natural gas impacts the land, water, and air, Montana has begun moving towards electricity from clean sources like hydroelectric, wind, and of course solar. Despite companies like NorthWestern Energy investing in new natural gas power plants, every state in the nation will need to prepare for the country-wide move towards 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity announced in April of 2021.

It really does look like the natural gas deposits beneath Montana will be staying put as Americans move towards truly renewable energy and cleaner energy futures. 

So Why Aren’t All Montanans Switching to Electric?

With better safety and efficiency, and the increased energy independence a solar power system brings, you might be wondering why every homeowner in Montana isn’t chomping at the bit to go solar. The short answer: because of the upfront cost. Buying new electric appliances can run several thousand dollars, and if your current natural gas appliances are nowhere near the end of their lifespan switching might feel wasteful. If you live in a pioneer era house with a similarly aging electrical system, additional appliances plugging in may also require an upgrade. 

The great news for homeowners looking to go solar is that your savings with a home energy system will quickly make up for any costs associated with converting your house to all electric appliances. You might also be able to recoup the costs of switching to energy efficient electric appliances with rebates from Montana and the federal government.

Electric or Gas for The Mountain State?

With higher savings and efficiency, better safety, and Montana being at the forefront of the commitment to clean, safe energy in the U.S., all electric homes look like what we’ll all have in the not-so-distant future. For homeowners looking to switch to all electric at home, it might come down to if you can afford to make the switch.

Luckily for homeowners who are considering the switch to solar, the monthly savings you’ll see from wiping out your power bill will quickly pay for the cost to convert your appliances to all-electric.

If you’re ready to take the first step and find out if your roof qualifies for our zero down program, it’s as simple as answering a few quick questions. Purelight Power can help make the switch to electric appliances and solar simple.

   
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