Natural Gas Measurements
Chances are, you pay for natural gas usage every month. But if you’ve ever looked at how natural gas is measured and charged for in Canada, you may be a little confused. Don’t worry though – we’re here to clarify how natural gas is measured, as well as other useful information such as how to convert natural gas units to one another.
Gigajoules vs Cubic metres: How is gas measured in Canada?
In general, natural gas energy content is measured in Gigajoules (GJ). However, the standard unit of natural gas volume measurement and consumer billing in Canadian provinces may differ. In Ontario, Manitoba, and Quebec, for example, cubic metres (m3) are the standard unit, whereas Gigajoules (GJ) are more commonly used in Alberta and BC.
In terms of natural gas resources, production, and demand volumes, you are not likely to find the measurement expressed in m3. Instead, you’re more likely to find natural gas measured in trillion cubic feet (tcf).
What is a Gigajoule?
A gigajoule (GJ) is one way of quantifying the energy content of natural gas. It has the same amount of energy as about 26 litres of gasoline. It’s also equivalent to about 278 kWh of electricity.
What is a Cubic Metre?
A cubic metre (m3) is a measurement of gas volume. Thus, the difference between an m3 measurement and a GJ measurement is that GJs refer to the energy content of the gas while m3 refers to the volume of gas. The reference conditions for a cubic metre of gas are a temperature of 15°C and an atmospheric pressure of 101.325 kilopascals (kPa).
Other popular units for measuring gas
- British Thermal Units (BTU) – This is an imperial measurement of energy. More specifically, it’s the amount of energy needed to cool or heat one pound of water by degree Fahrenheit.
- Cubic Feet – This is another imperial measurement of energy – it’s defined as one cubic foot of gas at 60 °F (288.7 K; 15.56 °C) at normal sea level air pressure.
Natural Gas Conversion Factors
Conversion factors are how the amount of gas measured by natural gas metering is converted into a billable unit. In many places across Canada, natural gas is billed in Gigajoules (GJ), so the conversion factor works as the number by which the volume of natural gas is multiplied to provide you with your natural gas costs.
Natural Gas Conversions
Now that you know about some common gas measurements, you may be wondering how to convert gas measurements. Fortunately, all that a gas unit conversion requires is some simple multiplication.
Below, you can find a natural gas conversions table for commonly used measurements of natural gas.
Natural Gas Conversion Table
|Convert GJ to m3||Multiply by 26.853|
|Convert m3 to GJ||Multiply by 0.0373|
|Convert Cubic Feet (CF) to m3||Multiply by 0.0283|
|Convert m3 to Cubic Feet||Multiply by 35.301|
|Convert CF to GJ||Multiply by 0.001055|
|Convert GJ to CF||Multiply by 947.817|
|Convert Million British Thermal Units (MMBtu) to m3||Multiply by 28.3278|
|Convert m3 to MMBtu||Multiply by 0.0353|
|Convert GJ to MMBtu||Multiply by 0.9478|
|Convert MMBtu to GJ||Multiply by 1.0551|
|Convert CF to MMBtu||Multiply by 0.001|
|Convert MMBtu to CF||Multiply by 1000|
Other Helpful Conversions
|1 MMBtu = 1000000 BTU|
|1 MCF = 1000 CF|
Let’s do an example calculation. Let’s say the question is ‘how many BTUs are in a m3 of gas?’ Using the table above, we could first find how many MMBtu (million British Thermal Units) are in a cubic metre of gas. For 1 m3 of natural gas, you would multiply by 1 m3 by 0.0353, which would give you 0.0353 MMBtu. To get this number in units of BTU, you would multiply it by 1000000, which would give you a total of 35300 BTU in an m3 of gas.
How is natural gas usage calculated?
For most consumers in Canada, there’s a natural gas meter on the outside of their home. Typically, this meter reads how much natural gas has been consumed in units of cubic metres (m3). When it comes to charging consumers for natural gas usage, natural gas retailers typically charge per GJ of natural gas used. To convert from m3 to GJ, a conversion factor is used – you can find it in the natural gas conversion table above.
According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN), Alberta produced 69% of Canada’s marketable gas as of 2018. In comparison, British Columbia produced 29%, Saskatchewan produced 2% and Nova Scotia produced 1%. Overall, 98% of all natural gas produced in Canada is produced from the western-most provinces, with Alberta producing the majority.
How is natural gas transported?
According to NRCAN, natural gas is transported via extensive networks of high-pressure steel pipelines. When natural gas is first extracted from the ground, it’s transferred to processing plants via gathering pipelines. After processing, large-diameter, high-pressure steel transmission pipelines carry natural gas to large industrial customers and local distribution companies. Local distribution companies then add odorants to the gas to help with leak detection and then distribute the natural gas to homes and businesses via smaller and lower pressure pipelines.
Now that you know more about how natural gas is measured and how you’re billed for natural gas usage, you might be thinking about how you can reduce your natural gas bills or energy bills overall.
One of the best ways to lower your energy bill is by shopping around for different energy rates – if you have no idea where to start, EnergyRates.ca can help you out.
All you have to do is fill in your postal code and what kind of energy service you’re looking for in the form above to see all the best energy rates in your area.