While redoing our landscape, we ripped out a nonfunctional gas lamp because it had rotted at the base.
We weren’t sure whether we want to restore the gas lamp or convert to an electric lamp.
I like how gas lamps look. They look far better than the typical electric-conversion gas lamp.
Gaslite America West’s Gaslight Specifications say that a 2 mantle gas lamp consumes about 1.5 MCF (thousands of cubic feet) of natural gas per month. I checked with someone who recently installed a gas lamp. Comparing his Sept. 2005 gas consumption to Sept. 2004, 1.5 MCF appears reasonable.
Coincidentally, my most recent gas bill is for 1.5 MCF. Using an average of Department of Energy-calculated annual natural gas prices over the prior 6 years (1999-2004, link), and adding on the taxes and surcharges in the Dallas, TX area, natural gas is about $10 per MCF. This means that a gas lamp costs about $15 per month to operate.
Gaslite America West and other sites say that a 2 mantle gas lamp generates the same light output as a 100 watt incandescent light bulb or a 25 watt compact fluorescent bulb.
Calculated from a DOE spreadsheet (link), 1998-2003 US electricity prices averaged $0.0841 per kWh. A 100 watt bulb consumes 0.1 kWh per hour. If I ran this light 12 hours per day, 30 days per month, that would be 36 kWh per month. 36 kWh per month is about $3.00, tax included. If I ran the 25 watt compact fluorescent watt bulb, that would be a measly $0.75 per month.
Note that the prices I quoted above are average. Energy prices are currently high, although natural gas’s current percentage increase far more than electricity, even if you factor in upcoming 24% electricity price hikes.
According to a post at Google Groups, there is a device that can throttle down gas lamps during the day. I have not found any other reference to such a device. Even if it was for sale, a best case scenario may be around a 25% consumption reduction. (You can’t totally shut it off.) Even at that consumption level, the gas lamp would still almost 4 times as expensive as the 100W incandescent or about 15 times more expensive than the 25W CF.
Conclusion? It’s expensive to run a gas lamp. You’re looking at around $180 per year just for a 2 mantle gas light. Is that worth it? Probably not for me.