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  1. Categories: Business

    Clearing the ice while cleaning up the books

    Community arenas, university sports facilities, and even NHL teams have already converted to natural gas ice surfacers. Why? Converting Canada’s machines (the biggest names being Olympia and Zamboni) to natural gas presents a sizable and sensible cost-cutting measure. (Generally, rinks can enjoy up to a 65% savings versus propane.) Considering the number of arenas across Canada, these conversions represent a tidal change and significant cost savings.
    Although most ice surfacers are fueled by propane, there are even some that operate on gasoline – which, as you can well imagine, is an antiquated and far dirtier option. Many aging technologies exist that need to be brought up to date.

    Cash-strapped municipalities, for a simple operational expense of only a few thousand dollars for a natural gas retrofit kit, can begin recouping their costs almost immediately. Plus, the arena’s existing natural gas lines would be outfitted with a refueling appliance that can be rented from their nearest utility. The ability to refuel their machines “right from the tap” cannot be underestimated.

    Firstly, natural gas literally halves fuel consumption, so it’s far more efficient than propane. This also spares arenas from the nuisance of having to order, stock, and store a multitude of propane tanks (most consume 200-300 tanks annually). And because natural gas cylinders are mounted to machines permanently, they also spare the hassle and strain of switching out heavy propane cylinders.

    If larger NHL arenas are leading the way – smaller community rinks can’t ever be far behind. Has your neighbourhood arena made the switch? Can you think of other types of municipal services that could benefit from converting to natural gas? Let us know in the comments below.


    Connelly, K. Community ice rinks turning to natural gas-powered Zambonis.
    ERI Case Study. Natural Gas Zamboni: It Clears the Air While It Clears the Ice.

  2. Categories: Business

    HSR Goes to Gas

    The high costs of diesel fuel has led the Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) to begin switching its bus fleet from diesel, to being fuelled by clean and affordable compressed natural gas (CNG).

    “The bottom line is the diesel fuel market has just exploded,” said Douglas Murray, manager of transit fleet maintenance.

    A transit fleet report noted the cost per litre of diesel has risen to more than a dollar from about 75 cents since 2009, with steady increases projected for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, the cost of CNG has generally declined over the same period, and is predicted to keep dropping until about 2017 “and then to inflate after that time, although at a lower rate…than diesel,” said Murray.

    Though only 35 of the HSR’s 221 buses are currently powered by natural gas, an analysis of fuel costs, maintenance expenditures, and other factors resulted in a recommendation to switch to natural gas as the fleet’s main fuel.

    Availability of fuel was also a consideration, with new extraction methods making large supplies of natural gas available within North America. In fact, Hamilton is one of many municipalities looking at making the switch to natural gas.

    Have any thoughts about switching diesel-burning bus engines to clean and affordable natural gas? Let us know in the comments section below.

    [Source: Hamilton Spectator, 29 Jan. 2013, at http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/877093–hsr-buses-going-back-to-natural-gas]

  3. Categories: Uncategorized

    How energy efficient is your home?

    We all want to do our best to help improve our household energy savings when heating, cooling, using hot water and other uses of energy. But where do we even begin? And what should we consider before overhauling our homes with renovations?

    A home energy audit is a great place to start and you don’t have to hire anybody to do it. Union Gas offers a great do-it-yourself energy audit checklist for you to determine what is already working well in your home, and what may need improvements. We’re interested to know, before you conduct your audit, what do you think you are already doing well and where do you think you can improve?