Is Propane the Best Way to Heat My Home?
Understanding the Benefits and Downsides of Propane Gas
When it comes to heating your Connecticut home, you’ve got a lot of options. There’s heating oil, propane, natural gas, and electricity, for starters. While there’s a lot of pressure to go all-in on electricity, it might not be the best choice for heating in our winter climate—especially if rates continue to climb. So, what’s the best option for your home? If your current system is newer and performing well, there’s no reason to change. But if it’s time to replace your old heating system, or you’re building a new home, it’s smart to consider the benefits and downsides of each.
Here’s a quick guide to some of the bigger points of your home energy and heating choices:
Benefits of Propane Heating
- Propane equipment runs more efficiently than heating oil equipment.
- Propane is more efficient than natural gas, delivering twice the heating energy.
- Propane doesn’t produce significant carbon dioxide; in fact, propane is approved as a clean fuel by the US Government.
- Propane heating equipment requires less maintenance and lasts longer than heating oil-fueled equipment on average.
- Propane is nontoxic and nonpoisonous, so it doesn’t contaminate groundwater or soil if it leaks – which means propane tanks can be safely buried out of sight, when possible.
- Propane is super versatile, and, like electricity, can be used to power other appliances such as ranges, dishwashers, laundry machines, and water heaters as well as grills and fireplaces. It can also be used to power a generator that will keep your home running when the electric lines are down.
- Propane gas is easy and safe to transport because it gets compressed into a liquid—you may have transported it yourself when you’ve exchanged or refilled a portable cylinder for your grill!
- All the propane used in the U.S. is produced in North America. So, every gallon of propane you buy contributes to America’s energy independence.
- Installing a propane system may be more cost-effective than hooking up to natural gas.
Cons of Propane
- Propane produces fewer BTUs per gallon than heating oil—you need to burn more of it to achieve the same amount of heat.
- Propane-burning equipment often costs more to purchase than heating oil-based systems.
- Propane is combustible in air, so precautions are needed to operate the equipment safely.
Benefits of Oil Heat
- Heating oil has a higher BTU output per gallon and is used up more slowly than propane; this could mean you will pay less to heat your house with heating oil, even if the per-gallon cost of propane is less.
- Equipment is generally less expensive to install and replace.
- Ultra-low sulfur heating oil burns much more cleanly and particulate emissions have been reduced significantly from the already low levels of the past few decades.
- New heating oil systems now burn fuel 99.9% cleanly, according to studies conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven Laboratory.
Downsides of Heating Oil
- Heating oil tanks—especially older steel-lined ones—can corrode from the inside and develop leaks, which can be extremely expensive to clean up. This is a cost that is often not covered by homeowner’s insurance.
- Most heating oil comes from offshore sources, which means its price is subject to international market forces and is therefore more volatile than propane.
- Oil furnaces need to be cleaned more frequently than propane furnaces and tend to require more maintenance.
- In most homes that are heated by oil, other appliances (such as water heaters, ranges, and clothes dryers) are run by electricity, which is not as efficient as propane.
- Heating oil is not as versatile as other options—so you still need other energy sources to power most of your other appliances and equipment.
Benefits of Natural Gas
- Because natural gas is delivered to your home via a pipeline, you don’t have to worry about scheduling deliveries.
- Like propane, you can use it to run a range of appliances, including ranges and water heaters, as well as to heat your home.
Cons of Natural Gas
- Connecting to natural gas can be extremely costly, depending on how far you are from the service line. It also requires expensive excavation that can be destructive to your yard and garden.
- Aging pipelines can result in leaks that are hard identify and even more challenging to repair, while at the same time utilities and public utility commissions argue over who foots the bill. If it’s up to the utilities, that cost will get passed to customers.
- Leaking natural gas contains methane, a greenhouse gas, and harmful to the environment.
- When temperatures plunge and demand goes up, so do prices.
- Natural gas is less efficient than propane, which delivers more than twice the BTUs. So, you’d need more natural gas to produce the same heat as propane.
Benefits of Electricity
- Electricity is versatile. You can use it for heat, cooking, lighting, computers and smart phones, televisions, as well as your cooling systems, too.
- It produces virtually zero emissions when you use it. (However, generating it is another story.)
- Electric heating equipment is generally inexpensive and low maintenance.
Downsides of Electricity
- Electric heat takes much longer to reach a comfortable temperature and can struggle to maintain it—driving up your energy usage—and your utility bill! Even without geopolitics driving energy costs up, electricity will cost you more.
- Electric heat pumps rely on outdoor air, which means they become less able to keep your home warm the lower the temperature goes. In fact, many homes with electric heat pumps need to have supplemental heat sources (like oil or propane) as a backup.
- Electric generation is the second-largest creator of greenhouse gasses in the United States. That’s because most of our electricity supply is generated by coal-fired power plants. More than 63% of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas. Only the transportation sector creates more greenhouse gases.
Looking to Upgrade Your Heating System? Call Casey Energy Today!
Winters in our area can range from mild to bitter cold, but between coastal nor’easters and classic northeast blizzards, we see our share of deep freezes. The size of your home and the quality of its insulation can affect your choice, too. Whether you are looking to convert to a propane heating system or explore converting more of your home’s equipment to propane, the experts at Casey Energy can help.
Contact us today and let us show you all the ways propane can make your home warm, comfortable, and more efficient for years to come.