Propane vs. Natural Gas: Which Is Best for Your Home?

Propane and natural gas are both popular fuels used for heating homes and powering appliances across the country. If you have the option of using either, how do you know which is the best choice? The answer is not as straightforward as you may think, as both have pros and cons. Here, we’ll compare propane vs. natural gas so you can make the right decision for your home.

What’s the Difference?

Propane and natural gas are both fossil fuels, and both are largely produced domestically. For homeowners, the main difference between the two is that 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, however, remains in its gaseous state and is delivered to the home via a pipeline.

Natural Gas or Propane: Which Is Cheaper?

For homes that have the option of choosing between natural gas and propane heat, cost is often the most important concern. Natural gas rates are measured in price per cubic foot, whereas propane rates are measured in price per gallon. Like all fuels, the cost of both propane and natural gas is prone to fluctuation over time.

Historically, when you convert between units and compare average rates, it may appear that natural gas is the cheaper option. However, the real cost for your home will depend on a number of factors, including where you live and the efficiency of your furnace and appliances.

Another, perhaps more useful comparison between the two fuels is not price per unit, but rather BTU. BTU is a measure of heating efficiency – in the case of propane vs. natural gas, propane has more than double the BTU rating (1030 to 2490). This means that, even if you are paying more for propane on a per-unit basis, the fuel you’re buying will burn cleaner and heat your home with greater efficiency.

Other Considerations

So, does its superior burning power mean propane is automatically the best choice for your home? Not necessarily. As with any energy decision, there are a number of other things that are worth considering. For example:

  • While natural gas is delivered automatically to your home, propane levels can also be monitored and filled automatically by your propane provider, which means you’ll have a professional regularly helping to address your fuel needs.
  • While propane’s portability may seem to be a weakness, it can actually be an advantage – if you use it to power a gas grill, you’ll have more freedom to set up a barbecue anywhere in your yard.
  • In addition to the this, 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.

Switching from one fuel source to another may require purchasing a new furnace, stove, grill and other appliances, or in some cases making expensive infrastructure upgrades. Even if natural gas does turn out to be cheaper for your home, this investment can take years to recoup.

Case Study: Natural Gas vs. Propane Grills

One simpler way to look at the pros and cons of natural gas vs. propane is to look at one specific application. Natural gas grills are a popular way to start grilling in your backyard, in part because they appear cheaper initially. Despite this, however, propane is the fuel of choice for most barbecues, and for good reason – its greater BTU rating provides the higher heats that home grilling enthusiasts love and can actually be more cost efficient because of the additional heat per unit.

When it comes to the question of propane vs. natural gas, which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments section.


6 thoughts on “Propane vs. Natural Gas: Which Is Best for Your Home?”

  1. Maryann Oldham says:

    Fossil fuels are natural gas. For our home we converted to solar, but our natural gas has gone through the roof. (Heater, stove, dryer, fire place insert). Being that natural gas is pumped in why can’t we save by going through an out-of-state company. Is my thinking in correct?
    Why does PGE control this? Our natural gas amounted to $325
    last month. Higher than our electric bills use to be before getting Solar.

    1. fosterfuels says:

      Hello Maryann, natural gas is fed to your home through a network of pipelines owned by a particular company which in your location would be PGE. Just like the tanks we provide for our customers through our rental program, they belong to Foster Fuels and only Foster Fuels fills them with propane. The fuel that goes through the pipelines connected to your home is only provided by the company that owns them.
      We would be happy to speak with you more about this in person if you would like. Feel free to contact Jason at 800-344-6457.

  2. Frank Delaware says:

    My wife and I have been looking at houses that have different gas systems in them, and we were curious about how you would choose the right one. I never knew that a propane delivery company can actually deliver the gas straight to your house! It would be nice to know that when it is running low, you will be able to get the gas you need.

    1. fosterfuels says:

      Thanks for commenting Frank! Choosing a home that fits for your family is certainly a hard task. Propane gives you more control of your home heating keeping you off the grid with your home heating. If you have any questions, please give us a call at 800-344-6457.

  3. Dave Anderson says:

    My wife and I are building a custom house and we are wondering whether it would be better to put in natural gas or propane as a fuel source. After reading I like the fact that natural gas is a pipeline that is connected to the house directly. That means that we won’t have to refill our propane storage’s every so often. For the lifestyle that my wife and I live, I think that it would be beneficial to power the home with natural gas.

    1. fosterfuels says:

      Thanks for commenting Dave! Although natural gas is on one direct line, it also means you are on the grid for your heating. With propane, your tank is either your responsibility or the company you rent from responsibility, keeping you off the grid in case of emergency. If you are concerned about the filling of your tank, most propane companies (including Foster Fuels) offer an auto fill program keeping your home running when you need it most. If you have any questions please feel free to talk with a propane specialist at 800-344-6457. Good luck with your home building!

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