Natural Gas vs. Propane vs. Electric: Which One Heats More Efficiently?

All types of heating have their pros and cons, below are comparisons of Natural Gas, Propane, and Electric heat sources.

Natural Gas vs. Propane:

  • GasFlameBoth are fossil fuels and are largely produced domestically in the United States.
  • Propane is compressed into a liquid form and either sold in portable canisters or delivered via truck to a permanent storage tank on their property.
  • Natural gas remains in its gaseous state and is delivered to the home via a pipeline.
  • Natural gas rates are measured in price per cubic foot, propane is measured in price per gallon. The cost of both are prone to fluctuation over time.
  • Natural gas, when discharged into the environment is a greenhouse gas whereas propane is not classified as such. Propane is a green fuel before combustion and remains environmentally friendly even after it is used. Both are environmentally safe.
  • Propane can be used for a variety of different home appliances, from stoves to clothes dryers, giving you off-grid independence if other utilities fail.
  • Since propane contains more than twice the energy of natural gas (one cubic foot of propane = 2,516 BTUs, while one cubic foot of natural gas = 1,030 BTUs), it’s much more efficient than natural gas. For example, in one hour a 100,000 BTU natural gas furnace burns around 97 cubic feet, while a propane furnace burns only 40 cubic feet in an hour.
  • Although propane is more energy efficient, both are clean burning alternatives to oil and/or coal. Since there are over 2,500 BTUs in in one gallon, or one cubic foot, of propane, depending on the present cost of propane per gallon, either propane or natural gas could be the less costly fuel to heat a larger structure.

Propane vs. Electricity:

  • PropaneTanksPropane is cheaper than electric: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating a home in the U.S. with a propane heating system in recent years has cost far less than heating with an electric system.
  • Propane is warmer than electric: A propane gas furnace heats air to about 130 to 140 degrees F and operates in short intervals to minimize operating costs. An electric heat pump produces heat below body temperature, so the air actually feels cool when placing your hand in front of a vent.
  • Propane is more dependable than electric: Propane can be stored safely in a tank on your property, while electricity is subject to power outages.
  • Propane furnaces last longer than electric heat pumps: Propane-fueled furnaces last 5 to 10 years longer than electric heat pumps, on average.
  • Midwest Electric assumes that a propane furnace is 90 percent efficient while electric resistance heating, such as baseboard is 100 percent efficient.

Natural Gas vs. Electricity:

  • E-NG-combo-photo-2Natural gas heating systems provide a high level of energy efficiency, which can keep utility costs low.
  • Electric heating systems eliminate the need for homeowners to install a gas line to the home.
  • With Natural gas heating, you need a gas line that delivers gas to your home or install a storage tank on your property.
  • According to Energy Savers, electric heating systems are one of the most expensive and inefficient ways to heat your home.

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