Natural Gas in Manitoba

Feb 7, 2019

There’s a lot to think about when choosing between gas and electric furnaces. We delved deep into the advantages and disadvantages of each on a previous blog post. Here’s the short version; natural gas is cheaper and in some ways even more environmentally friendly. It poses a risk of generating carbon monoxide, while electric furnaces do not. This strikes a lot of people as odd; why is natural gas cheaper than electricity? In order to understand this, you have to look into the energy infrastructure in Canada.

Canada is one of the world’s biggest natural gas producers. We come in fourth globally; the United States, Russia and Iran are the three other big natural gas producers. The vast majority of our natural gas is produced in Alberta; BC is the second biggest producer, with Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia producing a small, but not negligible amount. Most of our natural gas is exported to other countries, and our natural gas infrastructure is very intertwined with that of the United States. Most of our gas is exported, and all of our exports go to the United States; we in turn import natural gas from them. That’s because on the Western front, it’s easy to export gas from Alberta to the States, while Eastern Canada is closer to gas in the States than it is to gas in Alberta. The entire operation is conducted through a complex series of pipelines.

So why is natural gas so cheap for furnaces? The first reason is that heating a home using natural gas is more efficient that heating a home using electricity; while there’s more waste with gas, burning it produces more heat for the same cost. The other reason is that natural gas itself is incredibly cheap right now. Fracking and access to shale gas has increased natural gas production substantially in North America, but demand for gas has not increased proportionally. Classic economics at work, here: when supply goes up and demand stays the same, the price goes down.

This idea holds even more true here in Manitoba. Natural gas is often used to generate electricity; burning it can be used to boil water to turn turbines, for example. Manitobans, conversely, get their energy almost exclusively through hydroelectric dams. This means demand for natural gas is very low; out of all of Canada’s natural gas consumption, Manitoba uses only 2%. Low demand and high supply makes natural gas incredibly affordable, so it’s the most economic move for your furnace.

As we addressed in our previous post about gas furnaces, not using electricity to heat your home means that electricity can be sold to provinces and states where natural gas IS used to generate electricity, so in many ways using natural gas actually benefits the environment. The best way is to find high-efficiency gas furnaces; your professional heating contractors in Winnipeg can help you find the best one!