The debate between propane and electricity for homeowners has been ongoing for years. As primary and secondary energy sources, both options come with their own set of pros to consider and a number of cons.
For example, should you make use of electric-powered air source heat pumps or propane heat pumps?
Let’s look closely at the pros and cons of propane and electricity, comparing their cost-effectiveness and efficiency based on data from Ofgem and energy providers.
Comparing the Costs of Propane and Electricity
Measuring Propane and Electricity
Let’s start by looking at the different units of measurement for each energy source. We measure propane in gallons, while we measure electricity in kilowatt-hours (kWh). To make an accurate comparison, we need to convert these units into a common measurement: British Thermal Units (BTUs).
One gallon of propane contains 91,500 BTUs, while 1 kWh of electricity generates 3,412 BTUs. With this conversion factor in mind, we can determine that 1 gallon of propane is equivalent to 27 kWh of electricity.
What does that mean to a potential LPG gas user? In terms of costs?
Calculating the Costs
The latest costs as per data from Confused About Energy show the costs of propane depend on the size of the cylinder. Compared to an average price and rising of 34p per kWh for electricity, even the smallest propane cylinder will be cheaper.
- A 3.9kg propane cylinder will cost 29.5p per kWh.
- A 27kg propane cylinder will cost 17.9p per kWh.
Propane is more cost-effective than electricity in this example.
LPG also produces far fewer carbon emissions when burned, aiding us towards a greener environment. It’s a cost-effective fuel, so you get a good return for each unit of energy.
According to an article by Which on annual costs, Ofgem, the energy regulator has calculated general figures on energy usage. Their calculation shows that an average ‘medium’ household needs about 12,000kWh of energy for heating and hot water annually.
And different factors will influence the total cost of your heating if you choose propane, for example:
- The price you pay for LPG.
- Your home location.
- How much heating do you use at home?
Homeowners thinking about the switch to propane may get financial aid. You may get help paying for your LPG bills from your local council as it’s classed as an alternative fuel.
The propane refrigerant heat pump range is a brilliant choice for projects that require a low environmental impact because of its use of natural refrigerants. R290 heat pumps are commonly used for Commercial Heat Pumps due to the far more environmentally friendly refrigerants.
Cost Comparisons for Appliances
The cost-effectiveness of propane and electricity can also be compared for various appliances. For instance, LED light bulbs are more energy-efficient when powered by electricity. Why? The bulbs use less energy and they last longer.
Though there is a bigger picture of appliances to consider.
On the other hand, washing machines can be more cost-effective when using propane, as they require less energy to heat water than their electric counterparts.
Heaters are another appliance where propane often proves to be more cost-effective. Propane heaters can heat a room more quickly and efficiently than electric heaters, which can lead to lower energy bills. Propane heaters can continue to function during power outages, providing an added layer of security for homeowners.
There are two big points to note regarding the use of propane as a greener fuel.
- Propane is considered a clean-burning fuel, as it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than other fossil fuels.
- It does not contribute to air pollution, as it does not produce harmful substances like nitrogen oxide or sulphur dioxide.
On the other hand, electricity generation can have a more significant environmental impact. The majority of electricity is generated from non-renewable sources, such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear power. These sources can contribute to air pollution and produce greenhouse gas emissions.
However, the environmental impact of electricity can be reduced by utilising renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power.
Other Factors to Consider
Availability and Home Equipment
The availability of propane and electricity varies depending on the region. While electricity is widely available in most areas, propane may not be as accessible in some locations. Homeowners should research the availability of both energy sources before making a decision.
LPG is much better for off-grid homes than electric heating systems. Its high efficiency gives you a much larger energy return, ultimately saving you cash.
Propane systems generally require more maintenance than electric systems, as they involve more components, such as tanks, valves, and piping. However, the maintenance costs for propane systems are typically lower than those for electric systems, as propane appliances have a longer lifespan.
While propane may be more cost-effective for heating and some appliances, electricity can be more efficient for lighting and other applications. Ultimately, homeowners should consult an expert to determine the best energy source for their specific needs and preferences.