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Natural Gas 101

Natural gas is increasingly the fuel of choice in today’s homes with nearly 95% of new homes in the Midwest choosing to install natural gas service. Find out more about this optimal energy source through the Q & A section below.

What is natural gas?

Natural gas is a combustible, gaseous mixture of simple hydrocarbon compounds, usually found in deep underground reservoirs formed by porous rock. Natural gas is a fossil fuel composed almost entirely of methane, but does contain small amounts of other gases, including ethane, propane, butane and pentane.

What does natural gas smell like?

In its most pure state, natural gas has no odor. That’s why we add a chemical -- mercaptan -- with a very distinctive odor. In fact, it smells like rotten eggs. Click here for more information about natural gas safety.

How is natural gas delivered to my home?

Three segments of the natural gas industry are involved in delivering natural gas from the wellhead to the consumer. Production companies explore, drill and extract natural gas from the ground. Transmission companies operate the pipelines that link the natural gas fields to major consuming areas. Distribution companies, such as Vectren Energy Delivery, are the local utilities that deliver natural gas to the customer. Natural gas is then delivered to your home through Vectren’s system of pipelines and mains to your gas meter.

How safe is natural gas?

The 2.1 million-mile underground natural gas delivery system has an outstanding safety record. Likewise, you can depend on your natural gas utility to bring you America's best energy value regardless of weather. However, it is flammable and, like any burning fuel, can produce carbon monoxide. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you have your natural gas appliances inspected yearly to prevent improper combustion.

Do natural gas appliances produce carbon monoxide?

A natural gas furnace, water heater or other equipment that is properly installed and regularly maintained should not release carbon monoxide (CO) into your home. But, to operate safely and efficiently, any fuel-burning appliance or equipment must have a good supply of air. It must also have proper and effective venting to carry the exhausts outdoors. If anything interferes with the air supply or the venting of exhaust gases, incomplete or faulty combustion may occur. This could cause CO to be produced. For more information on CO safety, click here.

What are the environmental impacts involved in consuming natural gas?

Simply put - natural gas is the cleanest-burning energy source for your home. Natural gas has fewer impurities, is chemically less complex and its combustion generally results in less pollution than other fuels. In most applications, the use of natural gas produces less sulfur dioxide, less nitrogen oxides and less particulate matter than oil and coal.