Many Australian households rely on gas to heat their water and power their appliances. There are two types of gas supplied to Aussies depending on where they live: reticulated natural gas and liquified petroleum gas (LPG). Despite the push towards renewable energy, the production of LPG and natural gas has actually increased; with LPG growing 48% and natural gas increasing by 8% in the 2019/20 period. 1
Reticulated natural gas, also known as natural gas, is distributed by pipeline. Natural gas is primarily made up of gaseous methane, which is collected during the fossil fuel burning process by drilling through gas wells. This type of gas is a low-carbon fossil fuel.
LPG, on the other hand, is a mixture of primarily liquefied propane and butane gases. This type of gas is also a low-carbon fossil fuel; however, it’s obtained through cruel oil refinement.
1. Reticulated natural gas
A network of pipelines distributes reticulated natural gas in certain parts of Australia. To be eligible for reticulated natural gas, you must live near a gas transmission pipeline so that a gas fitter can connect your home to a gas supply.
If there isn’t an existing pipeline that the gas fitter can connect you to, they may be able to arrange a new connection and meter box for you. However, this will typically come at an extra cost.
This type of gas is supplied and charged similarly to electricity. You receive a steady stream of gas, and it’s generally billed bi-monthly in Victoria or quarterly in all other states. To find out more about gas charges and bills, read our article on how to read energy bills.
Advantages of reticulated natural gas
Reticulated natural gas is a cleaner alternative for those wanting to reduce their carbon footprint. It’s mainly made up of methane, which is produced through fossil fuel combustion. However, it combusts the least amount of carbon dioxide compared to other types of fossil fuels.2
Gas is generally cheaper than electricity and can help you save through various appliances, including:
- Gas ranges and ovens
- Water heaters
- Slab or underfloor heating
- Gas heaters and fireplaces
- Clothes dryers
- Outdoor lighting and heating
Disadvantages of reticulated natural gas
If you’re not already connected to a pipeline, the initial connection fees can be an expensive up-front cost. In addition, if you don’t already have gas appliances, you’ll have to get new ones.
That’s to say, if your appliance runs on reticulated natural gas, the gas fitter can adjust it to use LPG on the spot. Keep in mind that only a licensed gas fitter can do this, and you should not attempt to do this yourself. Also, if your household has a high gas usage, you may find switching to LPG will actually increase your gas costs compared to using natural gas.
You can’t run a house entirely on gas, though, so you’ll still have two separate bills for electricity and gas. Even a gas range uses some electricity.
2. Liquified petroleum gas (LPG)
LPG is a mixture of gases (mainly propane and butane) that’s typically used for heating, cooking and hot water. It’s stored in 45kg or 90kg refillable cylinders and delivered to your home. When you run out, you’ll have to call your supplier to have a licensed gas fitter deliver new bottles. Note that the 45kg bottles can be replaced as needed, while 90kg bottles need to be accessible from the street for refilling.
Most gas fitters will install two bottles at a time. You can choose to install one, but you’ll have to frequently check your usage to make sure you don’t run out before the new bottle arrives.
Advantages of LPG
This type of gas ensures that you can have a steady gas supply even if you’re nowhere near a transmission pipeline. The installation is easy, and you only have to buy bottles when you need them; if you only use four bottles a year, for example, you only need to pay twice a year.
Disadvantages of LPG
Unlike reticulated natural gas, you have to stay on top of how much gas you’re using so that you know when to order new bottles. If you forget to order on time, you run the risk of not being able to cook with your gas range or have hot showers for a few days.
Which type of gas is best for you?
The best type of gas for you will depend on your location and whether you’re already connected to a pipeline. Consider your situation:
- If you aren’t connected to a pipeline or able to get connected, your only option will be to get LPG if you have gas-fuelled appliances.
- If your home is already connected to a pipeline, you’ll have the option to get either reticulated natural gas or install facilities to accept LPG. However, keep in mind that you’ll have to continuously monitor and order bottles for a steady gas supply with LPG.
- If your home isn’t connected to a pipeline, but is able to get connected, you should consider the upfront costs of getting connected and your household’s energy consumption. If your household has a high energy consumption, you’ll likely be ordering LPG bottles frequently, so natural gas may be a more convenient option for you. If you can’t afford the upfront costs of getting connected to a pipeline or have a low energy consumption, you may want to consider LPG.