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What is the difference between rich and lean gas? Does this have an impact on my bill?

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Rich gas and lean gas are the two types of natural gas that are distributed in Belgium via different networks. The difference between them is their calorific value, i.e. a different quantity of energy. In other words, 1 m³ of lean gas provides less energy than 1 m³ of rich gas.

However, this difference does not have any impact on your bill, as your supplier bases this on the quantity of energy that you have actually used and not on the quantity of gas supplied to you.

Different gas, but a fair rate for everyone

When using a wood-burning stove, no-one would want to pay the same price for a cubic metre of pinewood as for a cubic metre of oak. The volume may be the same, but pine wood contains far less bulk (and hence less energy) than oak.Rich/lean gas

The same is true of gas. The two sorts of gas available in Belgium have a different calorific value, i.e. a different quantity of energy:

  • rich gas contains an average of 10.9 kWh per m³
  • lean gas contains an average of 9.9 kWh per m³ (type of gas that is found in Brussels.)

How come? As the name indicates, natural gas is a natural, not an industrial product. Its composition varies in time and depending on the country of origin. This is why the gas system operators recalculate the calorific value every month.

In other words, less energy is released by burning 1 m³ of lean gas than by burning 1 m³ of rich gas. For instance, heating the water of the same bath will use more lean gas than rich gas.

Luckily, that does not mean that you have to pay more, because your bill is calculated on the basis of the quantity of energy (number of kWh) and not on the basis of the quantity of gas (number of m³) that you have used.

Whatever type of gas you receive, everyone actually pays for the energy that they use!

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