Propane vs Natural Gas: All of Your Biggest Comparison Questions, Answered!

Propane vs Natural Gas: All of Your Biggest Comparison Questions, Answered!

Propane vs Natural Gas: All of Your Biggest Comparison Questions, Answered!

Are you building a new home, or considering converting your existing home utilities? It can be confusing to decide between propane vs. natural gas as an efficient fuel source for heating your home.

The best way to determine which fuel is right for you is to inform yourself of the benefits of each. Ready to learn about these clean-burning home fuels? Read on!

Propane vs. Natural Gas: The Differences

Both propane and natural gas are fossil fuels. Most fossil fuel used in American homes and businesses is domestically sourced, with less than 4% of natural gas being imported from other countries.

The biggest difference between the two fuels is the state in which they are transported and utilized. Propane is a compressed liquid which is either stored in canisters or pumped into permanent storage tanks via delivery truck.

Natural gas is always supplied in a gaseous state, delivered to homes via a gas pipeline. Natural gas contains propane, butane, ethane, and methane.

Which Is Cheaper?

Natural gas and propane prices are hard to compare unit for unit, as they are priced differently. Natural gas is sold in cubic feet, where propane is sold per gallon. Prices of these fossil fuels fluctuate over time depending on market value.

In a direct comparison, it may appear that the cheaper option is natural gas. The actual cost impact on your home, however, can depend on many different factors. Regional costs and climate, the type of furnace you have, and your home efficiency all impact the cost of your utility use.

A more accurate way to compare the cost of propane vs. natural gas is to consider the BTU of each fuel. BTU is a unit of measure that determines heating efficiency. A cubic foot of gaseous propane has a BTU of 2516, where natural gas rates at 1037 BTU.

Even though propane costs more on average per unit, it has a much higher BTU than natural gas. You can estimate the cost of heating your home with both methods by determining the annual BTU usage of homes in your area, divided by the BTU per gallon or square foot of fuel.

Propane as a chief source of energy for the home will require a storage tank. Many homes have something like a 500-pound propane tank, which will have to be installed above or underground on the property.

Environmental Impact

Natural gas and propane are both considered a “clean energy alternative” to other fossil fuels such as coal and oil. This is because they are clean-burning, and produce less harmful emissions.

The main difference is that natural gas is considered a greenhouse gas. Propane, on the other hand, does not release greenhouse gasses. If you value being more eco-friendly in your home, propane may be a better choice.

Using propane may allow you to be more off the grid, as your energy source is stored directly on your property. You do have to rely on a propane company to deliver your propane on a scheduled basis, however.

Safety Concerns

Natural gas dissipates faster than propane when released in the air because it is lighter. Since propane is heavier than air, it can “pool” in areas before dissipating.

All things considered, they are both flammable fuels that should be treated with similar levels of caution. Both fuels can produce carbon monoxide, so homes should be equipped with detectors.

Energy for Your Home

When trying to choose between propane vs. natural gas, you have many important factors to consider. Propane is more expensive than natural gas but has a higher BTU efficiency rating, so the costs may balance out.

Your existing appliances may or may not be adaptable to another fuel source. Consider the price of replacing these appliances in your budget, as well as the costs of fuel delivery and storage.

Though both fuel sources are cleaner than oil or coal, propane does not contain the greenhouse gas methane. For homeowners seeking to go greener, propane may be a better solution.

Is your home in need of more upgrades? Check out my guide to the four big changes you might need to make in your house.

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1 Comment

  1. I really like what you said about the difference between propane and natural gas. This would be really helpful for my dad who wants a fire pit. It would also be really helpful if he were to have a supply of propane on hand.

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