Comparing Propane vs. Electricity

With the choice of energy sources for most of your home heating systems and heating appliances such as water heaters, you may be wondering which is better – propane or electricity?  


Before making this decision, there are some important factors to understand that will help you choose the right energy source for your house. 

Propane vs. Electricity – Energy Comparison

When choosing between the two, it’s important to understand the difference between propane and electricity.  Propane is a primary energy source and electricity is a secondary energy source.  

Energy from propane is used directly, whereas energy from electricity is used after the electricity is generated from a primary energy source such as natural gas or petroleum.

Usable amounts of electricity do not occur naturally whereas usable amounts of propane do. 

1 Gallon of propane = 27 kWh (Kilowatt Hours) of electricity

One gallon of propane contains the same amount of usable energy as 27 Kilowatt Hours:

Or 27 kWh = Approximately 91,500 BTU

(Source: Propane 101)

Below are a few reasons why it’s beneficial to use propane for your appliances over electricity:  

1. Propane is cheaper than electricity

Heating a home in the U.S. with a propane heating system in recent years costs far less than heating with an electric system, according the U.S. Department of Energy.  Propane water heaters, for example, can cost one-third less to operate and recover water twice as quickly as electric water heater.  

In addition, new standards brought upon by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act is changing the market. No longer can homeowners replace systems and simply go with the cheapest options or the same technology.  The good news?  Research shows appliances that run on propane are one of the best options when meeting the new NAECA standards.  

2. Propane is warmer than electricity

A propane gas furnace heats the air to about 130 F to 140 F and operates in short intervals to minimize operating costs. An electric heat pump produces heat below body temperature (98.6 F), so the air actually feels cool when placing your hand in front of a vent.

A heat pump is rated with a variety of "efficiency ratings" (SEER, HSPF, COP) but the one that is the easiest to look at is COP.  "Coefficient of Performance," is an exact efficiency at a given outdoor temperature.  When it gets colder outside, as it does in the Northeast, a heat pump is less efficient.  

3. Propane is more dependable

Propane is safely stored in storage tanks on your property, while electricity is subject to power outages.  Propane is reliable and works when and where other energy sources don’t, which makes it versatile.

4. Propane is clean & green!

Propane is recognized as "green" energy.  By using propane, homeowners can help cut emissions and protect the environment.  Both the Clean Air Act of 1990 and the National Energy Policy Act of 1992 recognize propane as an approved alternative fuel. Also, propane is also in gas form, so it doesn’t spill, pool or leave residue.

5. Propane can be used in times of power outages:

If you live in areas where you experience frequent power outages, a propane furnace may be the best choice.  You can much more easily use it with a generator when the power is out, and is more efficient than "electric resistance" back up.  

There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing the energy source for your home heating and appliances, from cost, efficiency, dependability and more! And with new industry standards created to help consumers and the environment, choosing the cheapest option is not always recommended. Rest assure that choosing propane powered appliances will not only create efficiency, will keep your house running and will also help the environment. 

Let the skilled staff at Combined Energy Services educate you on the best options! Contact us today at 800-874-1975 or complete the form below.

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