FAQ

Make the switch to natural gas with confidence.

At NW Natural, we want to answer all the questions you have about gas products and services. Here are the answers to the most common questions we get.


Heating My Home
What home equipment and appliances use the most energy? View answer
About 60 percent of your home’s energy use comes from space and water heating. With new high-efficiency natural gas equipment – a 95%+ efficient gas furnace and either a .67 energy factor tanked or .82+ energy factor tankless water heater – you can significantly reduce your energy use. For more information see natural gas equipment.  
How do natural gas furnaces compare to heat pumps? View answer
A natural gas furnace offers exceptionally comfortable, even heat – with 110 to 120 degrees at the register compared to 104 degrees from a typical heat pump. A gas furnace runs less often to maintain your home’s comfort. It’s more reliable with fewer repairs due to fewer moving parts. And it offers a 20-year-to-life warranty on the heat exchanger compared to a 5 to 10 year limited warranty on a heat pump compressor. To see how a new gas furnace would compare to a heat pump in your home, visit this page.  
Are there any special deals on natural gas furnaces? View answer
NW Natural has a special offers page where you can always find our current promotions.
What’s the best way to cool my house in the summer? View answer
We recommend an air conditioning system. A/C runs only when it’s hot outside (there are on average 13 days over 90 degrees in Portland annually). With proper maintenance, it should last 15 years or more. And if installed at the same time as a high-efficiency natural gas furnace, the combination system can be designed for optimal efficiency and can save you up to $600 in installation costs due to fewer permits, technician trips and other economies.
What should I know when considering a boiler and radiant floor heating? View answer
If you already have a boiler and hot water heating system and it’s time for a replacement, proper sizing and efficiency are the key considerations. Use a qualified contractor to do heating load calculations for your home so that the replacement boiler is properly and not over- or under-sized. Then consider the highest efficiency model you can afford, keeping in mind that the higher the efficiency, the lower your heating bills will be.
What is the environmental impact of the various home heating systems? View answer
Natural gas is the cleanest burning fuel. In fact, it is far less harmful to the environment than oil, wood, or electricity generated from fossil fuels. Natural gas produces about 30 percent less carbon dioxide than oil and about half that of coal or wood. When properly burned, natural gas produces heat, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. It produces almost no sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, dissolved solids, or particulate matter.
What type of service or maintenance is available on gas equipment? View answer
You can, of course, expect good performance from new gas equipment. Longer term - beyond your warranty period – gas equipment can be well covered through NW Natural’s Service Solutions program. In this program, we’ll connect you with a NW Natural Service Solutions certified contractor for any gas equipment repair or maintenance. It just takes a phone call to our Service Solutions Coordinator toll-free at 877-243-5855. Service Solutions is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And we stand behind the work of our certified contractors. Check out the details on this page.
Selecting Water Heaters
How do gas tanked water heaters compare to electric water heaters? View answer
A 40 gallon gas water heater produces 34 percent more hot water than comparable electric models and can recover heat about twice as fast. See a video on water heaters here.
Are there high-efficiency tanked water heater options? View answer
Yes. The ENERGY STAR tanked water heater has an energy factor (EF) of .67. Based on current NW Natural rates, you can save about $176 per year with a high-efficiency natural gas tank water heater over a comparable electric model.
How do tankless water heaters work? View answer
Unlike tank-style water heaters that heat water in a storage tank, tankless water heaters heat water only when you need it. When you turn on the hot water tap, a sensor tells the tankless water heater to fire up and start heating water as it flows through the unit. When you turn off the hot water tap, the tankless turns off as well.
Why would I choose a tankless water heater over a traditional tanked type? View answer
Since tankless water heaters only heat water when needed, they save energy and lower your operating costs. Plus, you never run out of hot water! While tankless units cost more than tank models to install, the energy saved typically results in paybacks of a few years or less for a family of four. Tankless water heaters also last twice as long (up to 20 years) and take up less space in your home.
Fireplaces
Can I get a natural gas hearth without having an existing wood fireplace? View answer
Yes. A zero clearance gas fireplace is specifically designed for installation where there is no existing fireplace. Some are decorative in nature; others are better at producing heat efficiently. There are sizes and styles to suit about any project. You can build it into a wall and hang a mantel above it, put it flush to an exterior wall with a chase behind it or build/purchase a mantel cabinet for the fireplace. You may also choose a freestanding gas fireplace that resembles a woodstove, complete with logs but which operates on gas.
Cooking with Gas
How do I add a gas range in my home? View answer
Once you have visited a retailer and selected the make and model of the gas range you wish to purchase, call our Service Solutions Coordinator at 877-243-5855 to obtain a contractor who can extend your gas line for your new range.
What are the differences between a natural gas and propane grill? View answer

Propane grills differ from natural gas grills in a few ways. First, propane tanks must be refilled when they run out of propane. This requires going to a local propane distributor or a gas station to add more liquid propane to the tanks. A natural-gas grill takes advantage of your home’s existing natural gas supply used for other gas equipment so you don’t have to worry about running out. And grilling with natural gas costs about 1/3 the price of grilling with propane.

If you don’t have an exterior natural gas line available, you must have one installed. Call our Service Solutions Coordinator at 877-243-5855 to connect with a contractor who can install your natural gas grill service line.

Converting to Gas
What does it take to convert to natural gas? View answer
You can convert to gas in ten easy steps. Click here to read through the what it takes.
Is it expensive to convert? View answer
In most cases, when you install a furnace for primary heating in Oregon, the new service line to your house is free. If you install a water heater with the furnace in Washington, the service in most cases is free. Click here to see if gas service is available to your home and receive pricing options.
How do I decommission an oil furnace? When is it necessary to do it? View answer
It is necessary to pump any remaining oil from a below-ground oil tank when you are converting to a natural gas furnace. There are many rules surrounding this activity. We recommend you refer to the Department of Environmental Quality website for more information.
What if I have questions about converting to gas? View answer
The first step in converting your home to natural gas is to check for gas availability in your area. Click here to see if gas service is available to your home.
Costs, Incentives & Home Value
Is natural gas cheaper than electricity? How do different fuel prices compare longer term? View answer
In most areas, natural gas costs less than electricity for conventional home heating and water heating. And while the cost of electricity is increasing in many Northwest communities, our gas customers are paying less for their gas service today than they did in 2005.
How do I compare the cost of heating my home among different equipment options? View answer
In most cases, natural gas costs less than electricity for conventional home heating. In fact, you can save up to 60 percent on your energy bills heating your home with a high-efficiency natural gas furnace compared to an electric forced air furnace. Compared to an oil furnace, you can save up to 70 percent. Click here for a cost comparison calculator where you can compare your current system to a natural gas furnace.
What incentives are available on natural gas equipment? View answer
NW Natural features incentives on different natural gas appliances throughout the year. Click here to see what incentives are currently available.
What industry sources describe equipment incentives? View answer
In Oregon, the state energy office sponsors energy tax credits on various high-efficiency gas equipment. The Energy Trust of Oregon supports incentives on natural gas fireplaces, water heaters and, in Washington, furnaces, and provides links to state and federal tax credit information.
How can I get financing and on-bill repayment for new natural gas equipment purchases? View answer
NW Natural preferred contractors can offer you financing options on equipment purchases. In Oregon, qualified moderate-income households can receive a $550 incentive and on-bill repayment for efficiency upgrades as part of the Energy Trust of Oregon Savings Within Reach program. In Washington, Energy Trust of Oregon offers on-bill repayment. Find a Preferred Contractor in your area and ask about on-bill repayment programs.
Contractors
How do I know if contractors who install heating and cooling systems are reputable? View answer
NW Natural has established a residential Preferred Contractors Alliance – a network of contractors we recommend – so you know where to go to find a highly qualified contractor to install natural gas equipment in your home. We apply stringent criteria for each member of our professional allied contractors to meet. Use our helpful tool to choose a NW Natural Preferred Contractor.
Why does NW Natural require its preferred contractors to meet stringent criteria? What is the criteria based on? View answer
NW Natural has established a rigorous set of criteria for HVAC contractors so we can provide our customers with a list of proven, skilled experts whose work we feel comfortable standing behind. We believe it is good customer service to recommend contractors who customers can rely on. Click here for the elements of this criteria.
How do I find contractors to install gas piping for hooking up new home appliances? View answer
NW Natural has a network of contractors who do gas piping installations. To get connected, call our Service Solutions coordinator toll free at 877-243-5855 or visit Service Solutions.
What is NATE and why does it matter that furnace contractors are NATE certified? View answer
NATE stands for North American Technician Excellence and is the nation’s largest independent, third-party non-profit certification organization for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R) technicians. NATE-certified technicians are trained professionals who have proven their knowledge in the HVAC industry by passing specialized NATE certification tests. This certification helps assure you’re working with a skilled technician.
What is NFI and why does it matter that fireplace contractors are NFI certified? View answer
NFI stands for National Fireplace Institute and is an independent, non-profit certification agency that has created the standard for certification in the hearth industry. It is the professional certification division of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Education Foundation. NFI certifies technicians by proving (through testing) their technical knowledge in planning and installing fireplaces, stoves and their venting systems. This certification helps assure you’re working with a skilled technician.
New Homes & New Technologies
What builders offer energy-efficient new gas homes? View answer
Contact your local builders association. They are usually the best resource for locating a green builder. These associations are deeply involved with all aspects of home building, such as changing building codes, green building certifications, and agencies that provide certifications.
Are there new home tours or home shows running now? View answer

The 2016 events where NW Natural is participating are:

  • May – Clark County Open House Tour
  • June – Marion-Polk Tour of Homes in Salem
  • July – Lane County Tour of Homes
  • August – Street of Dreams
 
Other Facts
How do you read Energy Guide labels? View answer
By learning how to read the Energy Guide label, you can increase your chances of purchasing an appliance designed to help reduce energy usage and emissions. Click on How to Read an Energy Guide Label for more information.
Does NW Natural have a glossary of gas terms? View answer
Industry-specific terminology in the HVAC industry can be confusing to non-professionals. Click here for common terms and acronyms about equipment capacity and performance.