View Full Version : Is propane cheaper than natural gas?

Bob Weisner
12-16-2004, 11:10 AM

Does anyone here heat with propane? Is it cheaper than natural gas?



Carl Eyman
12-16-2004, 12:12 PM
But I'm going to answer anyway. I don't know anyone who has natural gas available and uses propane. My brother in SC uses propane, but his choices were electricity or oil. Your gas utility should be able to tell you what their price per btu is as should your propane supplier. Since I believe the efficiency of a gas furnace should be the same with either fuel, that should giver you the answer.

Chris Damm
12-16-2004, 12:23 PM
I'm not using propane right now, but I have heated a house on propane and switched to natural gas when it became available. It cost almost twice as much to heat with propane. That doesn't include the hassle of dealing with local propane suppliers!

12-16-2004, 1:09 PM
My current house is propane (in the boonies). It is extremely expensive.

Old house had natural gas, much cheaper even though it was in a signifncantly more expensive area.

I (mis)use the "emergency heat" switch to force the system to use the heat pump unless it's real cold out. I spent lots of money to get a nice high-efficiency system in the house. It works great, but now I rarely use it.

Don't go propane.

Jay St. Peter

Chris Padilla
12-16-2004, 2:35 PM
NG is kinda pricey here in California (what isn't?) but still cheaper than propane. NG is also piped right into the house so it is quite convenient, too. :D

I say if you have a choice, go with NG.

Jim Robinson
12-16-2004, 3:39 PM
It all depends. What you have to do is look at the cost per BTU (heating value). Natural gas has a BTU content of around 1000 BTU/cubic foot at atmospheric pressure. Propane has a BTU content of around 2550 BTU/cubic foot at atmospheric pressure.

So, since the heating value difference is about 2.55 to 1, take the price of natural gas (per cubic foot) multiply this by 2.55 and you'll have the equivalent heating value price of propane.

One thing more to consider. If you live in a really cold area you may not want propane. Here's the problem. Propane stored in a high pressure tank is stored as a liquid. If the temperature of the tank is really cold, the liquid will not gassify, therefore can't be used.

Gary Max
12-16-2004, 4:39 PM
Our propane jumped up over 30% this year. We live way out in the sticks and it is very important that we can survive without electric if need be. One good ice storm and it could be weeks before they would be out my way to fix the lines. In the past it has been a cheap fuel for us but the way evertything has gone up I think those days are gone.

Wes Bischel
12-16-2004, 5:08 PM

If you don't have a hook-up to NG, check with the gas company. They ran it into the house from the street for free as long as we used NG for our primary heat source.



Charles McKinley
12-16-2004, 6:04 PM
Propane is running $1,49 to $2.25 a gallon hear in PA depending on your service plan. If gas was available I would use it over propane for the reasons stated in above post. If no NG I would look at oil. If you have wood to cut you can't beat nice constant wood heat IMHO.

Joe Mioux
12-16-2004, 8:11 PM

If you have a the option go natural gas. Natural gas will be a monthly expense based on the previous month's usage. It is convenient. Propane will be a large expense at the beginning of the the heating season. Some propane suppliers do run special purchase programs during the late summer months to get people to buy early and avoid the winter rush.

BTW: Hey Chris Padilla: you advised to go with Natural gas because that is piped right into the house, where does the propane get piped?:D

Bill Turpin
12-16-2004, 11:27 PM
Propane has to be delivered...therefore driver's wages and fuel for the truck must be paid for with every purchase. Once the pipe is paid for, NG is almost always cheaper.

Wood heats you multiple(11) times. It warms you when you cut it, it warms you when you split it. It warms you when you load it, unload it, stack it, carry it into house, BURN it, clean out stove, clean up floor, dispose of ashes, it even warms you in the summer when you clean the chimney. I heat 98% with wood. My annual heating cost is $10 for gas and oil and a new chain every two years, plus time, time, and more time.

Bill in WNC mountains

12-17-2004, 10:18 AM
Once the pipe is paid for, NG is almost always cheaper.

Don't be so quick to dismiss startup costs with propane. Getting a 500 gal tank buried in your yard isn't necessarily cheap. I believe it was around $1200 to buy the tank and have it buried and hooked up to a valve already run from the house. Not to mention the rules about where you can put the tank, etc.

Costs for propane are much more confusing to determine. Do you rent or buy the tank? Which of the "deals" that you are offered are the best. Some companies charge you for the tank and burial, while others choose to give you the equipment and lock you in to higher rates for long periods of time. If I had NG available, there would've been no question.

My last house had NG for both heat and hot water. My previous NG company also charged me on an installment plan. So, I paid something like $75/mo for the entire year. My new house uses propane for heat and hot water. My tank is big enough to go the summer for hot water, so no bills from April through September. But, I got 3 or 4 $500 - $600 bills throughout the winter for propane last year. The new house is slightly larger than the old house, but I have a split system in the new house. Propane only heats downstairs, the upstairs has a separate heat pump. The old house used a single NG furnace for the entire place. I much prefer the billing and cost of NG.

In fact, had I known up front how bad it was going to be, I would be entirely electric right now. We are trying that out right now to see how it works by putting the downstairs system in a bypass/emergency mode where it uses the heat pump (usually used for AC only). So far, it's been a pretty warm winter, so no real data. If we like the cost (and comfort) this winter, I may have the hot water switched to electric and get rid of propane entirely.

You know what aggrivates me the most ... when I run out of propane in my grill. Sheesh, I almost trip over 500 gallons of the stuff and I can't even cook a chicken breast. :p :D


Scott Parks
12-17-2004, 1:39 PM
You know what aggrivates me the most ... when I run out of propane in my grill. Sheesh, I almost trip over 500 gallons of the stuff and I can't even cook a chicken breast. :p :D

My BBQ is plumbed right into my NG line on the deck!:D I Never have to run to town to refill the tank...

12-17-2004, 3:21 PM
My BBQ is plumbed right into my NG line on the deck!:D I Never have to run to town to refill the tank...

Yeah, maybe when I get around to building the deck ... :rolleyes:

Steve Clardy
12-17-2004, 10:01 PM
We heat almost entirely with wood. Have a propane backup stove when we leave.
Last gas I bought was $1.34
Natural gas isn't available here.

Gary Max
12-17-2004, 10:25 PM
I use their tank---500 gallons. Doesn't cost me a dime as long as I buy propane from that company. Sits in back yard--can not be seen unless you are behind the house.
I run hot water and heat on propane---so if the power goes out we still can take a hot shower and stay warm. We paid $1.37 per gal. this year.
Plus we still have a electric forced air furnace in the house. No NG out here.

John Shuk
12-18-2004, 12:38 PM
My buddy just put in Propane as a choice over oil. He was told that it would be about 10 percant more expensive. The pluses are that he can bury the tank and there is no maintenance as with oil. He installed a 1000 gallon tank and hopes to be able to play the market and get fill when prices are lower. He has a direct vent boiler so there was a savings on the expensive chimney pipe. The tank installation was about 2000 dollars but the gas boilers are cheaper initially. Less moving parts to break down and no filters to replace. I think it was a good choice. That said the coice between propane and natual gas is easy NG for sure.