Electric Vs. Propane Heating

Electric Vs. Propane Heating

Q. Due to space and teenagers! we are in the process of selling our present home and buying another. We are in the fortunate position of being able to choose what type of heat we want installed in the home. It is a large bi-level with 2 fireplaces, so we know we won’t have to rely solely on the furnace, but will have it installed with ductwork, etc. as part of the purchase agreement.  I am looking for information and cost analysis on electric versus propane (no natural gas in the country). I think the propane will be cheaper, but my husband has concerns. Any resources or suggestions?

I may not be the most versed in the area of heating differences but I can tell you our experience.  We bought our farm 8 years ago and it had electric heat.  It was always cold.   We ended up using 2 kerosene heaters most of the winter just to keep warm.  You could wear all the sweaters ect. you wanted but your nose and toes were always cold.   One February our electric bill was 350.00 – and we were cold the whole time. We saved our money and 5 years ago had propane installed.  The propane company sold us the furnace and then did all the labor for free.  I even had them run pipes to the stove and water heater so when they needed replaced I had a choice of what type to get.  Our house is now very warm, and My heating bills are less than half of what the electric was.  I had a large propane tank installed and  have it filled about late June or early July when prices are low.  If you wait until Aug. or Sept. the price starts rising and during winter it is much higher.  Watch oil prices and the propane (a by-product) prices will soon follow suit.  K.

I was an engineer for an electric utility for 20 years and know that propane or oil are the way to go. Personally, we have oil and If you can install the tank in ground or offsite you will not have to deal with the smell when they fill the tank. Ours is in the basement and the oilmen just don’t get it! they overfill every time!    >Unless the price of oil is at or above $1.00 per gallon, BTU to BTU it is the most economical (given the same furnace efficiencies). Propane and Natural gas are both good and safe sources provided you know the rules. The best thing to do is to read up on the safety rules of propane. It’s really quite simple and safe. If you will have a forced air system you will prefer the cleanliness of the propane as oil makes for much more cleaning. If you have the idea of going with a radiant heating system you may be more frugal to install an oil furnace. Just remember TANK PLACEMENT. Engineer

My feelings are that propane is comparable to heating with natural gas, and is FAR  (did you hear that…)FAR less expensive that electric.  Electric heat is THE most expensive way to heat a dwelling, unless you car producing the electricity, by say solar or wind generation. I live in rural New Mexico, and we have a 250 gallon propane tank, that cost me $190 to fill in fall, and I am on a top off schedule for February, which means they come in February no matter what and fill up whatever the tank can hold.  This last February isn’t a fair call because the winter was so mild, but in years past, this fill is generally not higher that $80 or so.  That’s for the whole year.  We do have a woodstove, and we do use it, but I wouldn’t think we’d spend more than another $100 in the year without it.  On the outside that would come to $370 – 400 in the event of a hard winter and no wood to burn.  That’s FOR THE YEAR!!!  You can expect a monthly electric billing somewhere near half that per month if you’re lucky heating with electric. A downside that is worth a mention, but has never been a problem for us so far  The electric company service is constant as long as they receive a check.  With propane you’re relying on a delivery to your remote location, and trucks do break down, supply can be interrupted, or weather can prevent delivery (typically when its the coldest).  None of these things have ever happened to us out here in the 7 years we’ve been here, but I am aware of this possibility.


Editor’s Note: With changing prices each person needs to evaluate their specific needs, to aid in this manner please consider the following formulations:

  • Multiply the oil heat price per gallon by 0.663 to give the equivalent price per gallon of propane
  • Multiply the natural gas delivered price per therm by 0.92 to give the equivalent price per gallon of propane
  • Multiply the electricity price per kWh by 27.0 to give the equivalent price per gallon of propane  

for more details on comparisons visit www.energykinetics.com/savingsHeatingFuelComparisons.shtml#comparePropane


  1. Bill Berry says

    I take issue with the math; it’s Autumn 2014 and nowhere is propane $1.00 a gallon. We pay $2.30 a gallon in West Central Georgia. According to websites comparing propane to electricity it is known one gallon of propane is the equivalent of 27 kilowatt hours of electricity. I’m currently grandfathered with an energy efficient rate which I pay 4.89 cents per kilowatt hour, plus $24.00 per 1000 kilowatt hours fuel recovery cost and 75 cents for a recovery cleanup fee and $18.91 base charge or approximately 8.1 cents per kilowatt hour total from Oct 1st to May 31st each year. 27 times 8.1 equals to $2.19. Basically, dead even! I’m not implying propane gas is a bad idea, we have a home with vent free fireplace and only twice in four years have we had to run main heat, when the tank ran out; it’s that good. But penny for penny, there is no difference. The article forgets to tell you he pays both an electric and gas bill, not just electric, when you add the two together they are the same. It too must be said, the temperature for one person’s comfort may be very different than another or is acclimated to.

    • Jeff says

      BILL BARRY: You pay $2.30 per gallon of Propane? Dang! In NE Florida I just bought 80 gallons at $3.75, i.e. $300 bucks… I use AA Propane of Middleburg… I’m gonna try to get a chart of Propane charges to get more data… The guy that pumped told me Propane hardly fluctuates during the year!
      That was 26 Dec 2014

      • Darryl says

        For some reason propane is over $1.00 per gallon higher in Florida than in Georgia. In fact, when I looked up propane prices by state, Florida is MUCH more expensive than any other state. I wonder why? A few cents, even 20 cents per gallon I could understand. But $1.00? What gives?

    • John says

      Bill, I did a similar analysis here in North Carolina at around the same time frame you did and came up with the SAME ANSWER. Current rates; electricity and propane were a wash; about the same cost per heating unit.

  2. says

    i might be going with propane in the near future, I have always had natural gas…our local propane co told me $400.00 I almost collapsed…..my normal heating per mos is about $50.00….can someone tell me how this will work…do I pay per month with propane.?

    • Max says

      Typical for us is that the delivery truck comes about every other month or so in winter to top up twin 120 gallon tanks; maybe once or twice over the warmer season. Terms are full payment within 30 days of delivery.

    • Scott says

      You are better off buying enough propane in the summer to last the entire year. Just be sure to buy your own tank and one large enough to store the propane you need. Then take what you paid and devide it by 12 to determine the amount of money you need to set aside for the following year.

  3. says

    Good Gosh! I just paid $280.00 for 82 gallons of propane to fill my 100/120 gallon tank, delivered to my home (about 3 miles from the service center). That came to about $3.25 a gallon. This seemed extremely high to me. I will go through this “tank full” of gas by the first of the year if this very “cool” weather continues. In addition, the blower eats away at my electric bill. Between the two, my heating bill will be awful. And I live in Jacksonville, Florida.

    • Darryl says

      I priced it in Tallahassee, fl. And it is about $1.00 per gallon more expensive here than in the towns just across the Georgia state line. That’s true for residential AND propane to refill the portable 20-100lb cylinders. I wonder why? It seems as if ALL of Florida’s propane prices are through the roof compared with the rest of the country.

    • Derek in Palm Coast, FL says

      Sandy, what do you use your propane for in your house? I am building a house in north/east FL and I am considering getting the same size of propane tank as yours, 120 gallons. Will use it mainly for stove cooking and for my dryer. Have to talk to the builder if they can install a gas water heater and a gas furnace. My friends who live nearby say that it costs a lot to heat up their house with electric. I was quoted $3 per gallon from local propane company.

  4. mike says

    your prices make no sense for my part of the country Propane is $3.09 a gallon and when buying 100 gallons or more it comes to $2.39 –[lease tank] And Kw price after taxes and twelve other costs [like meter cost, federal cost adjustment] the power adds comes to 0.20 Kw. that means that per 91,600BTu’s used propane will be about $2.39 and electric will cost over $3.66. that is 65% more expensive to use electric for the same BTu’s.

  5. nick says

    I just bought a house in Hudson Florida (Pasco County) and I’m trying to decide whether I should install a propane tank for cooking, drying, water heating; can anyone give me some guidance? I estimate local electric around 8.5 cents per Kwh.

    • Randy Farnsworth says

      I would go with Electric if you have low rates. When I bought my house 17 years ago LPG was .65 gallon, now its lower but still around $2.25 a gallon. LPG is a by product of gasoline so prices at the pump are real close. Propane isn’t as efficient as electric or natural gas. Cost more to install except you have to have to have larger service for your electric strips. In real cold climates if will cost you due to heat pumps won’t work, you are relying on your heat strips. Next time I update my units, I’m going heat pumps. Too bad I would like to install mini splits but they don’t look so hot, I do have one in my garage and it works flawless.

  6. Linda bayonne n.j. says

    my propane is a dollar 99 a gallon I just bought a new mobile home and I chose propane and I hope I’m making the right decision

  7. steve hardwick says

    2/14/15 I just filled my propane tank and paid suburban $3.839 per gallon in Nashville TN.
    Anyone in the Nashville area paying less?

  8. Sarah says

    I’ve been trying to figure out how propane is the less expensive option compared to electric. We filled our propane tank (which for our company means at 80% capacity). It cost approximately $800. Our average electric bill from Nov until now has been $275, which is about what it is in the hottest months of summer as well. How is that possible?

  9. jerry says

    i had been paying 2.35 gal for propane at truepoint and after they let us freeze one weekend single digets. I started shopping around and and found it as low as 1.65 gal. .For those of you in fla vs ga. it may be some kind of state tax.

  10. Wayne says

    Propane company’s are not regulated by the PSC and can charge what ever they want per gallon in Florida. They claim they are self regulated. We all know how well that works. If you must use propane buy your own tank that way you can shop around for the best price. In the tallahassee area it can vary as much as $1.00 to$2.50 a gallon from company to company. And what ever you do stay away from Surban propane they are hands down the bottom of the barrel. My house is less than two years old and I’ve already changed out one of the gas water heaters for electric and will change out the other appliances as time and money allows. In short stay away from unregulated utilities if at all possible.

  11. Jeff says

    Last winter (2013-2104) when there was a shortage of propane prices exceeded $6.00 per gallon here in AZ, probably in other places as well. Luckily I had signed a pre-buy at 2.35 a gallon but my relatives, not knowing of the sharp increase paid more than $1200.00 to fill their 200 of their 250 gallon tank. Neighbors down the street switched to space heaters for a few months because they could not afford to buy propane. Believe it or not parts of AZ get snow and get below freezing almost every night in the winter. As we are getting ready to build a new house I am leaning toward not including propane due to the uncertainty of prices. On top of the steep prices of propane, the furnace also draws a significant amount of electricity which is a double whammy. We have switched primarily to firewood in a woodstove to overcome it almost completely. In our neighborhood, the hardest places to rent out if you are a landlord include a propane tank, even at 2.35/gallon a tenant must have >$500 on top of their deposit to even move in.

  12. marjorie says

    Dallas, tex area I paid 2.70 gal for propane this past winter. Need new furnace soon considering electric
    Not sure !!

    • ivin boren says

      The electric heat pump is efficient and clean.All rooms are the same temp.and the air is cleaned
      more per day in winter because this system uses
      freon to bring warmth into the house. A mid-priced
      electric pump does not have a flame thus this last
      2 to 3 times longer.

  13. ivin boren says

    the electric heat pump uses same equipt. for cooling and heating. when i said mid-priced thats a reputable popular brand for great quality. this technology makes heat from cold outside air. this system is on longer but extremely efficiently and doing so creates cleaner and longer even room temperatures every day and night. no flame. realize you need a 200 amp fuse box or a dedicated small box for the unit. after all it is electric.

  14. Gemma says

    Anyone. From south michigan who uses propane during winter. We are in the process of house hunting and we are afraid of making bad decision

  15. ThePrudentNinja says

    As of late winter 2014-2015, kerosene in central NC averaged $4 a gallon regardless of if it was dyed or not. Propane was quoted in spring at $2.04 a gallon from a local propane supplier. However they have a minimum delivery of 151 gallons. If using their tank, they also require you not let it get below a certain amount (for whatever reason I didn’t take note of that amount) or they would charge you an extra fee. Payment due in full within 30 days of delivery. Duke Energy for whatever reason doesn’t like telling its customers what their electric rate is. As of last year it was if I remember right $0.14 a kWh. If you looked at the bill, it would seem there is no service fees. However I found out they DO have a HIDDEN service fee which they don’t tell you and will only tell you when you are escalated to their highest tech support people. I spent two days on the phone with their tech support trying to figure out why my bill was more than what they said it would be. It took a few hours to get them to tell me the electric rate. Then I did the calculations and found my bill showed I was being charged at almost $0.18 a kWh for one month and $0.16 kWh another. I asked them outright if there was a service fee and several of their tech people flat out said no there isn’t. Despite such they didn’t see any problem with my bill. After being escalated to a higher up, they finally admitted there is a service fee. When factoring in the service fee it matched. Of course nowhere on the bill is there any “service fee”. It looks by reading it that you used X amount of kWh and this is how much it costs. They are also constantly trying to raise the rate every chance they get. Crooks I tell you.

    Anyway, someone I know used electric heat exclusively last winter and their electric bill topped out at $550 a month for a couple of months. My heating cost using kerosene topped out at $400 a month during the coldest months (and that was NOT heating the whole house and keeping the inside temp around 55 degrees). This winter I’m seriously considering propane.

  16. Jane says

    “propane to electric”. This year after the heating season, I got a bill for $1500., after paying $200. a month all season. At the rate of $200. a month, my bill won’t be paid until January. I’m 77, that there will be no heat or hot water until the bill is paid. No heat or hot water for Oct., Nov or Dec. I tried to convert to heat pump but the propane co. won’t allow them to. What am I to do. Jane

  17. Kathy says

    Anyone from New England out there? We live in MA and currently have electric heat which cost us almost $600/mo last year (12-mo average–much higher in winter based on $0.177 per kWh). We are looking into whether to convert to propane or oil as the gas company wants over $60,000 just to bring the natural gas lines up to our house. Regardless of the type of fuel we go with, we would also have the inside conversion cost for a furnace and ducts and would have to get a new water heater to get that off electric. Any advice?

  18. Emily says

    My furnace seems to be using an excessive amount of propane gas. From November 3, 2014, to February 27, 2015, we used 930 gallons of propane at a cost of $2,579.58. This comes out to roughly $645 per month. We kept the thermostat set on 65 degrees most of the time. Our house is approximately 1700 square feet. We have a gas range, water heater, and small wall heater that all run on propane. The range and water heater use an insignificant amount of propane. The problem is with the furnace. I live in Alabama where the temperatures don’t drop below 20 degrees very often in the coldest months. Does this sound like normal usage? We’ve almost finished paying off last winter’s bill just in time for this coming winter.

  19. Liam says

    Kathy You should look into your homes energy efficiency and weather you could benefit from added insulation and weatherproofing. I was also recently quoted $2300 for a Rinnai direct vent propane wall furnace installed plus the cost of a tank.

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