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Electric vs propane heating

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      Wow, so glad to have found this thread. My husband and I just moved to a cute little 2 bedroom cabin that’s heated with propane. We’ve never been in an area that used propane before. It cost us over $500 to fill the tank, and that was just about a month and a half ago. It’s already down to 30%!!! To say I was shocked and disturbed is an understatement. We have been trying to avoid using the heater, but it has been so cold lately, and we still have a few months to go… I had no idea propane was so expensive! We were charged $3.75/gal!!! I would never think electric heaters would be a cheaper option, but I will have to look into them. There’s no way we can afford to rely solely on propane… ridiculous! We love renting this little house, but it is pretty drafty, and definitely not energy efficient! It is only about 1000 sq feet. I can’t believe we are looking at $250/month without even counting electricity costs! Ugh.


        Now that Qaddafi has shown oil refiners they can charge pretty much anything they desire, we will get hammered next year on the cost of our propane. I never thought we’d be considering an electric furnace, but nuclear, wind, solar and coal will, from now on, be cheaper than propane, which is pegged to the price of gasoline. If we weren’t selling our house, I’d fire up the chainsaw and install one of those wood fired backyard units.


          Wish I had seen these comments 5 years ago when we had a new 2800 sq. ft. house built in SE Pennsylvania and made the mistake of installing propane heat. The house is dual zoned and we normally keep the upstairs at 60 and downstairs at 65 with setback thermostats at night and when we’re not home during the day. I spend a minimum of $3,500 per winter (Nov – Mar) for a house with 2×6 walls and extra insulation in walls and ceilings. I also made the mistake of leasing the propane tank from a propane dealer so I cannot purchase propane from anyone else. I’m already looking at alternative heating systems so I can get rid of propane heat. STAY AWAY FROM PROPANE!


            This is all so confusing. I live in the Poconos and we freeze in the winter because of our electric heat. The reason, the cost! When we moved here the previous homeowners told us heating was about $300-400 per month, what a lie! We had family here for the holidays and our electric bill was $1600 for the month of December! The average bill, is about $850/month. At this point, we only heat the area that we’re in, then before we go to bed we turn on the heat to our bedroom about half hour before so that it is warm. Then we shut it off when it gets comfortable, sleep with two goose down comforters, then whoever gets up first will turn the heat back on so that the room is toasty again. In other words if we’re not in a room, then there is no heat in that room so of course the entire house is freezing. The only exception to this is that the heaters in the rooms where water pipes are have to be kept on to prevent those pipes from freezing. We don’t encourage company to visit during the winter because of this. This electric heating is just not an efficient way of heating a home. I am confused about propane, radiant heating and all the other things. Just don’t know what to do. But I do know that this is no way to live and enjoy your house. Forgot to mention that each room has its own thermostat and individual heater.


              I’m glad I stumbled upon this thread. I’m going to see a house for rent this Friday in North Jersey (Morris County). I’ve lived in apartments in the city most of my life so I’ve never had to choose one type of heating over the other and have never had to pay for heat/hot water directly. The house I’m going to see has an electric water heater and propane gas for everything else. I was surfing around for an average cost and usage of propane in this area. I don’t know that I could pay this much ($500-$800 a month or even for just 4 months) for just one utility. That’s just nuts. If it has an electric water heater, will it help the situation by much? The house has dishwasher, washer/dryer, and one bathroom. I wanted to get a practice run before I purchased a home, but now I don’t know that it would be worth it.


                I live in a 1500 sq ft, 1960s vintage ranch home, upgraded insulation & reasonably tight – area is Northeastern PA. Have a relatively new forced hot water oil furnace but with the cost of oil, it’s still prohibitive. I installed a 60,000 btu coal burner in the center of my basement, and have used that exclusively for the past three years. With the addition of a reciprocating fan and registers cut in the floor of each room, it is adequate, but a pain to keep up with, and, of course, I can’t GO anywhere lest the fire go out. I’m thinking about putting some propane units in the basement. My first thought was to use two or three, 30,000 BTU, blue-flame, wall-mount, ventless units, strategically placed, but wonder if this is the best/safest/most efficient approach. Cost is definitely a factor – I need to keep the installation cost under $1k. Something that will operate without electricity is also preferable, since we often lose power during the winter, though I can always supplement with the coal/wood burner. Speaking of which – I do have a double-wall, stainless steel chimney in place for the coal burner, which might or might not be usable for some kind of propane unit. Thanks in advance. Joe


                  It’s funny to read all the lofty pronouncements, without any consideration of up-to-date, local prices. Here in upstate S. Carolina, electricity is only 8.5 cents/kWh, but propane is $3.66 gallon, about the highest in the nation, plus we have to pay to rent their tank! Oil is the same per gallon as propane, but has about 45% more energy. Natural gas is 40% of the cost of propane, but it’s 700 ft away for us. Because the wholesale price of propane is only $1.75/gallon, the propane business seems to be rather profitable, I’d say, due to inadequate competition. My forecast is for heating oil, which is so similar to diesel fuel, to become more expensive as China grows. There’s more new discoveries of natural gas than oil, so that would be my first choice.


                    First, the fireplaces originally mentioned are likely a heat sink — that is, losing heat — unless they are a Rumford or Bell Rumford design which is energy efficient. (Just Google it.) Second, consider a pellet stove in your primary living area. I heat most of my house with a small pellet stove. One winters’ worth of pellets costs about as much as one month’s worth of propane heat. I use my high energy efficient propane furnace on those rare occasions (usually in January) when the pellet stove just isn’t enough, and at all other times as backup. Set to 55 degrees, it comes on if the pellets run out at night or I’m away from home. Good life to everyone!


                      To comment #3, MR. “upper management in the propane industry for over 30 years” Your costs for heat pump heating are 100% vauge! I have a 1700 sq ft single family, built in 2002. The house in entirely electric! During winter 2010 we had a electric billing month of 30 days with 20+ days of tempuratures BELOW FREEZING! My heat pump heated house was only $266! I keep the day temp around 69 and night temp at 67. If you are going to quote a heating cost/mo you must state the house size and age and heating tempurature as well as the outside air temp!


                        Please add to the above comment, My cost for electric is about 10cents/(what ever the unit is they measure by). So not terribly high but not as low as you can find. The bill I quoted was for a family of 3.


                          Nice article


                            You should really shop around. Most providers will discount the price of a gallon of propane depending on how much you use. The northeast's largest provider will discount the price of a gallon to $3.79g from $4.79g if you use 300 gallons+ in a year. Another local provider will drop the price to $2.69g if you use more than 400 gallons+ in a year. I got tired of the cost of the heat pump and the propane a few years back and had a wood stove installed. Where I am at, I can get 4 cords of firewood for $400 delivered and dumped. I go through $800 in wood each year (October-April) and always have some extra left in May. I live in a 3200 sf home in Northern Virginia. The home is always warm and if there is a power failure, we still have heat. We use the heat pump's air handler to move the hot air around. Even with that, our electric bill is only around $90 per month (we have a hot tub). Yes, wood takes a little more effort (cleaning out ashes, loading the stove and checking the chimney each year), but it is well worth it to have a house that is always at 75 degrees all winter long. I found this site because I am considering installing a whole house back up generator. The generator consumes 3 gallons of propane per hour. I don't think the benefit will justify the cost of the generator (5K) and the cost of the propane to run it. Good luck to all of you.


                              I grew up in a Propane heated house. My parents bought (not rented) a 1000 gallon tank and just purchase their propane in the summer for the rest of the year from whoever in town is the cheapest. usually ends up being between $0.90 to $1.30 per gallon. I live in North Dakota by the way so the Furnace has to work overtime most of the winter around here. The tank is usually filled with 800 gallons and that lasts us till next summer. the bill usually being between 850 and one year it got to almost 1000 but you split that down by 12 months and thats 70 to 83 dollars a month or if you just want to count the cold months around here divide it by 7 or 8 and you get 142 a month at the most. Not sure who you are all doing business with but you are getting screwed. Also propane may cost more in your areas…its best to do research on whats the cheaper commodity in your area.


                                I bought a house two years ago that has electric heat in the ceilings (terrible idea from 1978) the whole house is run on electric. There is no duct work. Natural gas is not available. Our “budget plan” electric bill started at 289.00 per month for 2800 two story. Then it went to 304.00. Now my new bill said its going to be 444.00! I've never paid a car payment that high! I simply just can't pay this bill. I have contacted DTE twice to ask for an assement. They sent us a care package with some light bulbs and water saver attachments. I just need some serious help. I was going to buy the e monitor but its way out of my price range (600-900 dollars) this is just ridiculous . I feel bullied by the power company. I have a wood burner in my basement. Is there really  a way to make vents in the floors without duct work to heat my main floor?. My daughter lives in the bedroom up stairs. Is there an efficient space heater she can use instead of the electric ceiling heat?


                                  10 years ago Propane was cheap – so we installed central heating using propane. Now Propane cost 3 or 4 times that and our winter propane bill is about $600 per month (i.e. about for 5 months – rest of the year it is about $50 per month) – Our cooling is electric. I should have installed electric heating as well.

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