The primary reasons we use natural gas to heat our homes are that we perceive it to be abundant and cheap.
The reason it is abundant is because in Alberta alone we have such an amount of horizontally fracked gas wells that placed end to end, would stretch around the earth five times. Added to that, Alberta has many thousands of producing deep and shallow vertical gas wells, and more being drilled every day.
The reason it is cheap is because it can be tapped with each well using millions of gallons of water obtained for free, people profit from it, burn it and release the production mess and emissions from it into the environment also free of charge. We produce electricity and run industry with it, we even use it to heat the tar sands to extract oil for export. Natural gas is subsidized with taxpayer dollars, extraction corporations are given tax breaks and royalty payment periods of grace. Natural gas is systemically ingrained in Alberta, and economic fears of changing from it may be well founded, but the inevitable consequences of NOT getting away from it are more important, and will prove to be economically disastrous. ( Taxpayers are currently being asked to pay for the clean up of 700 + wells abandoned by failed oil and gas corporations )
Fugitive emissions from gas production, flaring, venting, and improper historic well abandonment are estimated to be as much as 5% – raw methane is calculated to have 70 to 100 times the GHG potency of co2, so even if raw fugitive emissions are 1%, the greenhouse gas contribution from the production of natural gas may be more than the co2 produced by burning it.
Energy from natural gas is one tenth of the price of electrical energy in Alberta.
Keeping this in mind, a geothermal system uses so little electrical energy, it will heat a home for less in actual dollars, than with gas – even in Alberta.
So the smart choice is quite simple.