Today, we are fortunate to have several energy sources to meet our needs. Coal, oil, hydro, and natural gas are examples of conventional energy sources. Two of these energy sources, are major types of renewable and non-renewable resources. A large majority of the conventional energy sources are non-renewable. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using these energy sources for your home? The cost of resources, distribution network, services and the available technology will be explained.

Learn the strengths and weaknesses of conventional energy for your home!

Conventional energy versus non-conventional energy

We define conventional as everything that is common and easy to access. This includes fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil, coal and nuclear energy. These are non-renewable energies.

Unconventional sources include solar energy, wind energy, energy from biogas, tidal and biomass energy. These are renewable energies.

Advantages of conventional energy for your home

Existing infrastructure

Delivering electricity to your home, for example, requires a call to a supplier and a team of technicians to connect your service. It is very easy to have access to electricity since the majority of urban and rural territories are covered by a vast grid. Certainly, if you live in an area where accessibility is restricted, electrical infrastructure may not be available for some distance.

The same goes for natural gas. Take for example a big city like Montreal, Canada which owns an extensive underground natural gas network that connects to homes and businesses. However, such an infrastructure is not yet available for the suburbs or remote areas. Despite this, there are propane tanks that can be filled when necessary.

Affordable installation and operating costs

As the majority of infrastructure is already in place and a service network is available to you, connecting to a network costs a hundred dollars and that’s it.

Apart from the installation costs, the bulk of the bill is found in consumer costs. In Quebec for example, the price of residential electricity is between 5 ¢ / kWhH and 7 ¢ / kWh *. For the US, the price can jump up to 30 ¢ / kWh (Boston).

All depending on your location and the availability of services, it does not cost so much. It goes without saying that your consumption has a direct impact on your bill in the end.

* Hydro-Quebec April 2015, monthly consumption of 1 000 kWh price in Canadian dollars

Amount of resources

North America is a very big country with considerable resources. Through natural gas, coal and electricity from hydropower the majority of these resources will be available for several hundred years. However, we must not overlook the fact either that these resources are non-renewable.

This means that your home will continue to be heated and well-lit.

Disadvantages of conventional energy for your home

Dependence on service and supplier

Although the distribution network is extensive and well maintained, There are not as many conventional energy providers as internet providers. Usually it’s a network monopolized by a large company that determines its expansion and growth plans.

Of course, these companies are monitored and controlled by an energy board such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Changing Technology and Maintenance

As in any core network and all equipment, there are changes that may occur. We are in an era that wants more “Smart”. The measurement tools that calculate your consumption will probably change over the next years.

In terms of maintenance, it may happen that your gas line is disconnected due to a nearby excavation site. While all entrepreneurs should know the location of these lines, errors can occur.

Fluctuating costs

As explained a little earlier, the cost of energy is a variable that you cannot control. Even the FERC has limitations as to the influence it has on businesses. The price of residential electricity in the United States increased significantly in 2006 and stabilized thereafter. However, as seen on the graph below, the percent per kWh has been increasing.

Limited distribution network in certain regions

The further you are from a big city, the less likely you are to have access to several energy services. The electricity still goes quite far, but natural gas is limited to a few hundred kilometers in terms of residential distribution.

Here are the differences between the two main sources of household energy, natural gas and electricity. (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

Natural Gas

Electric lines (375kV ⥸)

You will notice that the Western United States still has a limited network compared to the Eastern Seaboard and the Center.

Finally, conventional energy for your home has its advantages and disadvantages. Although the companies that provide these services and processed resources are making efforts to expand their distribution network, the system is not perfect.
In the same vision, electricity and natural gas tend to replace old methods of residential heating such as wood and oil. The electrification of districts, cities and regions has much more magnitude than before.

In any case, do not hesitate to compare conventional energy and non-conventional energy sources because the solution for your home may lie in what you have not already considered as an energy source.

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