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Residential Propane

Propane for home heating: a homeowners guide

indoor propane home
According to researchers at the Energy Information Administration, over 30 million Americans now suffer from some form of energy insecurity: some can’t afford the AC, others are forced to ‘go cold’ to avoid turning on the radiators. So it’s little wonder that more and more people are switching from electric to alternatives such as propane or oil for home heating. 

Switching to propane for home heating

But switching is one thing; implementing it effectively is quite another. There are many things to consider when thinking about how to heat your home without electricity. How much does it cost to install? How efficient is it? In fact, how much does propane heating cost?    

We’ll get to all those questions today. In fact, we’ll look at everything you’ll need to take into account when weighing whether to switch to a propane furnace or propane boiler to heat your home: 

  • The benefits of propane for home heating. 
  • The reduced environmental impact and increased energy efficiency. 
  • The potential challenges some may face in making the switch and how these might be overcome. 

But first, we want to remind readers that using a propane tank for home heating won’t be the right solution for everyone. Before you make the switch, make sure you examine your own circumstances and consider the right option. 

 

 

First off: Who’s using propane and what are they using it for?

Around 50 million American households use propane. Traditionally, usage has been dominated by outdoor appliances, and there’s no doubt it’s ideal for this purpose.  

A propane-fuelled outdoor heater or fireplace is a great way to stay warm and comfortable during evenings in the yard, and when you’re cooking outdoors, propane is certainly a cost-effective way to fuel a grill or even outdoor kitchen. On top of that, propane can quickly and efficiently fuel heaters for outdoor swimming pools and hot tubs, while real flame lighting can efficiently brighten patios and walkways.   

Now, however, permanent propane heating systems for homes are growing in popularity. In fact, research by the EIA shows that propane heats between 3% and 8% of homes across every region of this vast country.  

As you’d expect, households heated with propane tend to be located in more rural areas (83% according to the EIA’s number-crunchers) but there is a growing trend towards propane in urban areas too, especially in the Northeast.  

Given the versatility of propane, it should come as little surprise that more households than ever before are relying on it to power water heaters, cooktops and furnaces – and that they’re reaping the financial and environmental rewards.  

What are the advantages of using propane for home heating? 

There are many benefits to propane heating systems for homes, including:  

Propane is safe 

Propane is an incredibly safe alternative fuel source with a remarkable safety record. A propane tank for home heating will be situated either above-ground or underground and the strict codes and regulations governing the industry mean that propane use doesn’t need to be scary. Pinnacle Propane’s friendly staff are available to answer any propane safety questions you have. We also provide propane safety materials to keep you and your family safe and informed. 

Propane is more eco-friendly 

Listed as a clean fuel in the 1990 Clean Air Act as well as the Energy Policy Act of 1992, propane is a low-carbon fuel and emits far fewer emissions than drawing the equivalent amount of power from the US grid.  

Propane is more efficient 

Propane is widely considered to be a more efficient energy source than alternatives such as oil or natural gas. Its high energy content per unit volume means it can produce a significant amount of heat when burned. What’s more, propane burns cleanly, producing fewer impurities and combustion byproducts than some other fossil fuels. 

Propane is reliable 

Switching to propane gives homeowners a level of energy independence not possible when relying on electricity or natural gas delivered via national infrastructure. Should the electricity or natural gas supply be interrupted, homes powered by propane will be unaffected. At Pinnacle Propane, we offer dependable service and flexible delivery options to meet your needs.  

Propane is affordable 

While the cost of propane can vary regionally, it is often competitively priced compared to other heating fuels, offering savings of up to 30% annually. In addition, the stable pricing of propane can contribute to long-term cost efficiency for homeowners. 

Propane requires less maintenance 

On average, a propane furnace will last on average between five and 10 years longer than an electric heat pump. That’s a lot less hassle. 

advantages propane gas

Right. So what are the disadvantages of using propane for home heating?

Although an incredibly versatile and efficient fuel, propane does have its limitations and won’t be right for everyone:  

Propane prices can fluctuate 

Whilst generally stable, propane prices are subject to external market forces and as such can fluctuate. This should be considered when calculating the average cost to heat a home with propane. 

Propane has higher installation and setup costs 

If you’re looking to switch to an alternative fuel there will be setup costs whether you opt for propane or heating oil. A propane furnace comes with higher upfront costs than an oil furnace, and you should consider whether this outweighs the longer-term benefits. 

Propane supplies and availability can vary by region 

Because homes heated by propane are most commonly found in rural areas, supply infrastructure might occasionally be limited. Be sure to check your nearest location, and your delivery options, before making a decision. 

Installation and maintenance  

The installation and maintenance process will depend on the system in question, usually either a propane furnace or a propane boiler. 

 

Propane furnace

  • Air-based heating system which heats air and then distributes it throughout the home, using a system of ducts and vents.
  • Typically provides a quick response and can heat a space relatively quickly as warm air is circulated immediately after the furnace is turned on.
  • Commonly used for space heating in residential homes and can quickly raise the indoor temperature.
  • Installation involves setting up the furnace unit and connecting it to the duct system.

Propane boiler

  • A water-based heating system which heats water, which is then circulated through pipes or radiators to provide space heating.
  • It may take a bit longer to heat a space because the water needs to reach the desired temperature before it is circulated through the distribution system.
  • Can be used for both space heating and providing hot water for domestic use. Propane boilers are often chosen for larger homes or in situations where radiant heat is preferred.
  • Installation involves connecting the boiler to a water distribution system, which may include radiators, baseboards, or in-floor piping.

When deciding between a propane furnace and a propane boiler, considerations such as the size and layout of the home, heating preferences, and the availability of ductwork or water distribution systems will play a significant role.

propane furnace vs boiler

Maintaining your propane home heating system 

As with any heating system, proper maintenance is crucial to ensure its efficiency, longevity, and safety. Regular upkeep can also contribute to lower energy bills and a more comfortable home.  

Scheduling a professional technician to perform annual inspections will ensure potential issues are identified and components are clean and lubricated, so the system operates at peak efficiency.  

Employees at Pinnacle Propane are heavily engaged in on-going training, education and awareness-building efforts to promote and advance the safe handling, use and maintenance of propane and propane-fueled equipment. We comply with all current regulatory standards for your safety, and our service technicians are thoroughly trained in testing all systems and safety while delivering propane.  

 

 

The verdict 

In summary, propane can be a cost-effective, efficient and eco-friendly way to heat your home without electricity. However, factors such as the initial cost and the availability of a regular propane supply should be considered, and your decision should be based on individual circumstances and preferences.  

Be sure to reach out to Pinnacle Propane - we are dedicated to delivering customized propane solutions for your home, committed to enhancing your home's efficiency. Contact us for more information.