Frequently Asked Questions

Billing

If your natural gas bill seems abnormally high, please take into account:
1. The Billing Cycle – how many days does your bill cover?
2. The temperature during the billing cycle – how cold was it during those days?
After considering the above factors and you still feel the bill is too high, contact us at (210) 695-8781.

The best way to reduce your bill is to use less fuel. These quick tips can help reduce your consumption of natural gas.

  • Choose high efficiency appliances.
  • Check for adequate insulation in your attic and walls.
  • Check for and seal any air leaks around doors and windows.
  • Regularly have your furnace cleaned and maintained by a professional.
  • Changing the filters on your heating system regularly as well as having your burner cleaned and tuned up yearly will help it run more efficiently, therefore cutting down on the amount of fuel used. Some estimates show fuel savings to be as high as 15% or more.
  • Set your thermostat down a few degrees, especially when you are away or asleep.
  • Caulk and weather strip around pipes, ducts and vents.
  • Insulate your water heater and hot water pipes.
  • Set your water heater to 120°.
  • Regularly drain sediment from your water heater.
  • Take a shower rather than a bath.
  • Repair leaking faucets that are supplying hot water.
  • Install low-flow shower heads.
  • Run dishwasher only when it is full.
  • Wash clothes in cold water.
  • Run full loads of laundry and shorten wash time.
  • Dry loads of clothes back-to-back; dryers retain heat, therefore it will take less energy to dry subsequent loads.
  • Keep lint filter and exhaust vent clean.
  • Remember to turn-off kitchen and bathroom ventilation fans; it is estimated they can pull all the heated air out of your home in one hour.
  • Keep your oven door closed, each time you open the oven the temperature can drop 25°.
  • Choose a range with pilotless ignition.
  • Defrost food completely before cooking it; this can save 30-50% on cooking costs.

Beginning in 2004 the Railroad Commission (RRC) of Texas established a surcharge to recover the costs of administering the pipeline safety and regulator program.
The fee will be billed only once a year.

Safety

Natural Gas has an excellent safety record and is among the most dependable sources of energy available.

Gas appliances require fresh air for safe and efficient operation. Therefore, gas appliances must be used in ventilated areas. Insufficient ventilation can cause an overabundance of carbon monoxide. It is important to consult a licensed plumber to ensure that ventilation is adequate.

Carbon monoxide, which is a highly poisonous gas, can be dispelled if there is insufficient ventilation or due to a faulty appliance. While it is odorless, it is accompanied by other emissions that may produce a “car exhaust” smell. The use of a carbon monoxide detector is recommended.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can produce the following symptoms:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • flushed (red) skin
  • dizziness
  • a false sense of well-being
  • tiredness or a desire to sleep
  • vomiting

Prolonged exposure or high levels of carbon monoxide may lead to collapse, loss of consciousness, or even death. If you suspect that you may have been exposed to carbon monoxide, move into clean air, seek immediate medical attention, and ventilate the room if it can be done safely.

Signs that an appliance is not working correctly, or that the flue is blocked, include:

  • a yellow flame, rather than a blue flame
    (Note: some “flame effect” heaters, however, are designed to burn safely with a yellow flame, with minimum carbon monoxide emissions)
  • soot deposits in and around the appliance
  • unpleasant, distinctive smell, similar to that of a car exhaust

Symptoms like dizziness and headaches should always be taken seriously while a gas appliance is in operation. Someone that is licensed to work with gas appliances (plumber or appliance repairman) must fix the problem.

Do not use gas appliances in small rooms or confined spaces (bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.) if they do not have proper ventilation. In small rooms, only room-sealed and balanced vent type appliances should be used and only under certain circumstances. Ask a licensed plumber for advice.

If you are planning any other kind of project that will require digging, call 811 or Dig Tess at 1-800-344-8377 any time, day or night, no less than 48 hours before digging, drilling or excavating begins to have buried natural gas, electrical, telephone, cable and other utility lines located and marked. This is the law. This service is provided at no cost to you, and it can save you time and money. It’s also the SAFE thing to do when digging around buried utility lines. If Dig Tess is not contacted and there is damage to utility lines you will be held financially responsible

Miscellaneous

Natural Gas is a colorless and odorless mixture of gases such as methane, ethane, propane and butane. Natural gas is produced by drilling into the Earth’s crust where pockets of natural gas were trapped hundreds of thousands of years ago. Once the gas is brought to the surface it is refined to remove impurities, such as water, sand and other gases. Then it is transmitted through large pipelines that span the continent. Distributors add an odorant to the gas as a safety measure helping people detect gas leaks or an appliance they forgot to turn off.

Besides being one of the cleanest burning fuels, natural gas remains the best overall value. Natural gas burns much cleaner than propane, which means lower maintenance costs and fewer repairs on your appliances. All energy prices have increased not just natural gas, the price of both electricity and propane have been on the rise as well. However, the prices of all fuels rise and fall over time and with its many obvious advantages, natural gas has proven to be the preferred energy choice by more than 65 million customers across the nation.

Natural gas is generally less expensive and more environmentally friendly (burns cleaner thus fewer emissions) than both propane and electricity.

Natural gas is America’s most popular home heating fuel because it is efficient, clean and reliable. In the United States, 52% of all heated homes have natural gas heat. Natural gas is increasingly popular for use in new home construction, businesses and electric generating facilities.

Demand for natural gas has increased even during the summer months. This is because summer is when the use of electricity increases and many electric power plants use natural gas. In fact, most new power plants are fueled exclusively by natural gas.

The change from propane to natural gas is quite easy, and does not require too much time or effort. These are steps that must be taken.

  • First, call the office ((210) 695-8781) to ensure that we provide service to your area. 
  • A person from our team will come to your house and locate the lines and measure from those lines to the place the meter will be set. 
  • We will call within a few days to give you an estimate as to what it will take to get natural gas onto your property and how much it will cost. 
  • We will then run the lines and set the meter, the size of the meter will be determined by the number and requirements of gas appliances that will be used. 
  • We will connect the meter to the house pipe after the gas lines in the house have been checked by a licensed plumber. As a general rule, the lines that run propane through your house can be used for natural gas.
  • A licensed plumber will turn on the meter after the house lines have been checked and your appliances are prepared to have natural gas run to them.
  • Propane appliances must be converted to natural gas. This is not as difficult as it sounds. There is an orifice which attaches to appliances that your plumber can install for you. This is usually the only manner in which appliances must be altered in order to make the switch from propane to natural gas.

If your furnace has a pilot light and it was installed prior to 1992, its annual efficiency is probably less than 65%, perhaps less. Compare that to the least efficient furnaces available today which are rated at 80% (or 80 AFUE) and you can see that your old furnace is a prime candidate for replacement. Do not forget to consider the furnace electricity consumption as well. Some furnaces consume more electricity than a refrigerator just to power the furnace fan. Check out ACEEE’s recommendations for purchasing a new furnace for more information and tips.

Yes, the wire is supposed to be there. It is a tracer wire and allows the location and route of service to be tracked from the meter to the main. Please do not tamper with this wire.

Although the wire is sometimes mistaken for a loose ground wire connection, it’s actually a “tracer wire” that is installed next to a gas pipe when it is run underground from the gas main at the street to a house.  Because many gas pipes today are plastic and not electronically traceable, the wire can be energized at a frequency that is recognized y a hand-held tracing tool to locate the path of the pipe.  It is usually a #12 copper wire and we often see it wrapped loosely around the base of the gas supply pipe running up to the meter.  Gas companies also typically mandate that a warning tape be buried above the gas line to warn anyone diffing there that an active gas line is below it.  Both of these safety features are designed to help anyone diffing around gas service to a home to avoid inadvertently fracturing the pipe and causing a dangerous gas leak.