Propane vs. Electricity: Comparing the Operating Costs

Propane vs. Electricity: Comparing the Operating Costs

Choosing between propane and electricity to fuel your home heating system often comes down to the cost of both options. In our climate, using a propane furnace or a heat pump that utilizes electricity can be an efficient and dependable way to heat your home.

Energy Produced

A gallon of propane produces around 27 kilowatts (kWs) of electricity. According to Portland General Electric (PGE), each kW (not including taxes or fees) you use under 1,000 per month on a standard plan costs $06.5 and anything over 1,000 costs $07.22. The cost of 27 kWs is $1.75 if you keep usage under 1,000 kWs for the month and $1.94 if you exceed the 1,000 kW threshold.

Current Costs

Although propane costs vary by provider, the national average for a gallon of propane as of March 2014 was $3.08. The current cost of an equivalent amount of electricity from PGE (minus service charges, taxes and fees) is $1.75.

Efficiency

The heating efficiency of propane and electricity is measured differently. Propane furnaces carry AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) ratings that indicate how much fuel is used to heat your home and the proportion that’s wasted as combustion gases. The most efficient furnaces available have efficiency ratings close to 99 percent, which means the system only wastes 1 percent of the fuel it uses.

A heat pump’s efficiency is measured by how many units of heat it produces based on the amount of energy it uses. The current minimum HSPF (heating season performance factor) stands at 8.2. A typical heat pump offers 300 percent efficiency because it produces three units of heat per unit of energy it uses. A combustion system can never attain efficiency greater than 100 percent.

To learn more about heating with propane and electricity, contact the pros at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve been providing exceptional HVAC services for Portland area homeowners since 1976.

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