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Propane cost


#1

I know what it costs to fill my tiny little propane tank, but I am
wondering-- those of you who use propane for cooking and heat-- is
that an expensive way to go? I am about to move, and am considering
a house that uses propane. Handy for my studio, but I need more info
before I commit. This is pretty common in unincorporated areas,
isn’t it? After all, what other choice do you have besides
electricity? Fuel oil?

When I last lived where there wasn’t city gas, I was a kid-- and it
was Florida, where heat’s not so much of an issue!

Thanks
Noel


#2

Noel -

I live north of Philadelphia, so we have cold weather. We use propane
to cook with - a professional Garland with 5 pilot lights going all
the time. Love the Garland, not so sure about the propane. We have
had to have the plaster ceiling covered with wallboard because the
propane seems to cause the paint to peel. For heat we have fuel oil -
obscenely expensive and will probably be going up! If you can stay
away from fuel oil to heat your house, do it!

Suella


#3

Noel,

My Mother in law heats with propane up here in Quebec. Based on our
prices; it is about 20 % more than electric (but we have the
cheapest electricity in North America) and about 10% less than oil. I
am using my house which is electric heated, 850 from theirs on the
same farm, and very similar construction and vintage.

The reason we went Propane there is because the in laws are in their
late 70’s and well out here in rural Quebec winter power failures
are common and last a while… so with Propane they can heat even
with the utility power off.

I would add 3 things

  1. The cost for propane in small tanks vs. the large house sized
    ones is quite different, because the handling and transportation
    costs are quite a bit lower.

  2. Given you are in a more temperate area than us, I suspect the
    relative costs will be similar if taken over a season

  3. :smiley: There is a reason professional chefs like gas for cooking, if
    you or your spouse enjoy cooking you will find it a real pleasure how
    good the heat control is compared to electric.

The only real precautions is in addition to a smoke detector have a
leak detector installed in the lowest area of the first floor and in
the basement (They look and cost like a high end smoke detector)

Kay


#4

Can you contact the gas company that has supplied the place you are
moving to and ask them? Usually when purchasing, you can get utility
histories from the utility companies. Ask your realtor. I know that
my grandfather’s farm had propane tank, and it was expensive at the
point of filling, but he did not have to pay monthly gas bills like
we do.

Melissa Stenstrom


#5

In the early 80’s I lived in a place for 1 year in central Indiana,
heated with propane. Was an old concrete block gas station with a
nice apartment on one end and the landlord kept tractors in the
unheated garage bays on the other end- about 2500 sq ft total,
setting in flat wide open countryside. Propane was fairly expensive
at the time, don’t know now, but at the time I paid as much as $500
each a couple of winter months. One winter was enough for me. Hated
to leave the private lake 30 ft from building tho. And I used to run
around with a guy in high school whose family owned a propane
company, and he said had some customers in big fancy houses out in
the country- some paying as much as 900/month budget payment.


#6

Do you really have propane to run household appliances in the
states? We have a different gas here.

We use propane for BBQ, forge and furnace though.

Regards Charles


#7

Many thanks to all of you who provided me with great and abundant
As always, Orchid folks came through. You gave me what
I needed, which caused me to realize that the house in question would
cost a prohibitive amount for utilities. Too bad, it’s a beautiful
house in a gorgeous setting, but c’est la vie. I had a bad feeling
about it, but I wanted to be sure and now I am.

Noel


#8
Do you really have propane to run household appliances in the
states 

Yep. At a different pressure than that in tanks for welding, but same
gas. I live in the country, and have a monster 1,000 gallon tank for
heating… fill it once a year. But I’m in the South of the US…
not too much real cold weather :wink:

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com


#9

We live in an alternative energy house (that’s off the grid 100%) and
use propane for cooking, hot water, and technically heating. I say
"technically" because the house has a boiler that heats hot water
that is then piped into the floor for heat. It’s wonderful heat
(very even) but way too expensive for our budget. Consequently, we
heat with wood. It’s a real pain what with hauling the wood, cleaning
up the ashes, and the flue. In the Winter, even with the wood heat,
we usually use 500 gallons of propane (that’s about $900-$1,000) in a
month. That depends on the amount of power we get from solar and
wind because some of it goes to produce electricity. In the summer,
when running our swamp coolers (evaporative coolers) we can also go
through that much fuel each month. We have solar panels and a wind
generator (which is broken right now) as well as a room full of golf
cart batteries, but they don’t always produce or store enough power
to run our modern lifestyle. (The big screen TV and the well pump
always make the propane generator kick on.) I can tell you that the
propane company loves us, and we are always broke. The flip side is
we live in a very beautiful spot, so remote that wild horses drink
out of our fish pond on a daily basis. We have a million dollar view
as well. So, I guess it’s worth it.

Living with such limits on available electricity does prevent us
from doing things like running a kiln or similar high power
consumption things. (Did I mention the big screen TV? Yup, it’s a
real battery drain.)

Propane is a byproduct of gasoline production, so the price of it
follows the price of gas closely. It’s wonderful for cooking and
heating, it’s just too expensive. Unfortunately, in some locations
it’s really the only choice available. In our case, it’s not our
primary source of fuel, but it is essential because our primary
sources of sun and wind are not always available or adequate for our
needs.

I do use propane (and oxygen) for my torch, but don’t have that
hooked up to the 500 gallon tank outside. In fact, I only use it in
my shop, which is in town and on the grid, where there is fire
protection service. Our house is outside the service area for the
local fire department, so we try to keep open flames to a minimum
there.

Hubby wants to start casting silver, but can’t do that as long as we
live in our current location. So, there are limits when you live as
modern-day pioneers. Oh, yes, if you think solar or wind power is
cheaper than coal power - you’re wrong. It’s just cleaner and
renewable.

Susan
Sun Country Gems
http://www.suncountrygems.com


#10

Charles,

When I was researching torch gases, I found out there were
requirements for the size of tank indoors for propane. I had to get a
tank under 5 pounds for indoor use in the US. Oddly enough, when we
visit family outside the US in Singapore and France, both had propane
tanks under the stove that were used for cooking. They were the same
size as the tanks used on bbq’s here.

I am kind of surprised- are there no gas stoves where you live? Here
gas, such as natural gas (methane), is considered more energy
efficient than electricity for many appliances, such as furnaces,
water heaters, and so on. Natural gas is often replaced with propane
in rural areas where people can not tap on to a local gas line.


#11
In the Winter, even with the wood heat, we usually use 500 gallons
of propane (that's about $900-$1,000) in a month. 

Wow! That’s astonishing! There’s got to be a better way (without
moving into town).

Clearly, I made the right decision concluding that I could not afford
to heat that beautiful house (a rental). It isn’t definite yet, but I
think I’ll be able to rent another house, not as gorgeous, but in 40
acres of woods, and with gas heat. Completely private, and a forest
preserve across the road. I reckon that’s worth an hour commute 2-3
times a week.

Wish me luck!
Noel


#12

Hi Susan,

Hubby wants to start casting silver, but can't do that as long as
we live in our current location. So, there are limits when you live
as modern-day pioneers. Oh, yes, if you think solar or wind power
is cheaper than coal power - you're wrong. It's just cleaner and
renewable. 

This one :-

http://members.optushome.com.au/~charlesanderson/img/FFART.jpg

runs off a BBQ cylinder and will take a 2kg clay graphite crucible
full pelt will suck dry a BBQ cylinder in about 4 hours. It gets up
to temperature fast 10 - 15 minutes to melt bronze from a cold start.
Once at temperature the time to melt is reduced. If you have the
elements ready to alloy to can constantly melt metal. Planning ahead
helps when melting volume.

If you want to melt 250 grams of silver, then this :-

http://members.optushome.com.au/~charlesanderson/img/MicroFurnace.jpg

is a very affordable option. Inspired by Wayne Gardeners one brick
forge, it’s simply run by a Bernzomatic JTH-7. Others, who have used
this idea, like to paint the outside of the furnace, but I can’t be
bothered. It will melt silver. Funnily enough it was jest me testing
materials, but as a nice side effect, it has made a very efficient
and durable micro furnace.

Regards Charles A.


#13

Hi Melissa,

I am kind of surprised- are there no gas stoves where you live?
Here gas, such as natural gas (methane), is considered more energy
efficient than electricity for many appliances, such as furnaces,
water heaters, and so on. Natural gas is often replaced with
propane in rural areas where people can not tap on to a local gas
line. 

There are gas appliances here, but it’s natural gas, not propane. We
even have people that use oil to heat their houses. You can run a
melting furnace on waste oil, probably getting hot enough to get to
the flow point of platinum (I can check if anyone is interested).

Personally the journey to using gas was a difficult one for me. I
fought hard to “not” use gas fired furnaces or forges. The reason a
grand parent on either side of my family had a gas related
misadventure. Grandma failed to committed immediate suicide at 96,
left the gas on deliberately, was rescued, and took a week to pass
away. Grandpop, set himself alight, using a gas heater, accident or
not, I’m still not sure.

I had a lot of fear for gas, I spent several years attempting to
make electric powered furnaces and forges, and failing badly, usually
due to the time it took to get to temperature, and even then the
temperature was rarely adequate. I also had to trick a 30ma circuit
breakers into “not” working, so that the current wouldn’t trip the
breaker and turn off the house. Inherently it was more dangerous than
using gas.

I met a platinum jeweller having a garage sale, and he sold me my
first gas furnace… it still took me time to get over my fears
enough to actually light the bugger.

I learnt to make my own devices, and have been melting metal since,
however, to this day I have a very healthy respect for gas.

Regards Charles A.


#14

Charles,

Sorry for your family’s misfortune with gas. My understanding of the
use of propane over natural gas in rural areas is that it transports
easier. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LP_Gas

Melissa


#15
Propane is a by-product of gasoline production

I suppose that this is not really relevant to the discussion, but
for the record, propane is actually a by-product of natural gas
(methane) production and has nothing to do with gasoline production.

Regards
Milt


#16

Hi Melissa,

Sorry for your family's misfortune with gas. My understanding of
the use of propane over natural gas in rural areas is that it
transports easier. 

In a way it’s a good thing, as I’m over cautious around any gas.
It’s always a good thing to relate the dangers of these fuels. People
get complacent sometimes.

In rural areas we seem to have communities that have their own
generators, usually diesel.

If it came down to not having fuel available, I think a smart
jeweller would think of something :wink:

Regards Charles A.


#17

I have been thinking about this propane cost thread, and the people
that have responded about the high cost. What I have not seen and
maybe missed was a comparison to the cost of heating with other
alternative fuels. It may be that the cost of heating the same house
with electric or oil would be the same or more. I would think that
there would be chart that would show the per BTU cost of different
fuels. Talking about someone with a $700.00 a month fuel bill says
nothing. How hot do they like the house, how well insulated is the
house, how big is the house etc etc etc. If I had the chance to buy
the perfect place and did not want to spend the money on propane (if
it is more expensive) I would put in another heating unit and be
done with it.

Bill Wismar
who loves my propane stove.


#18

Bill,

I had sent this offline to Noel as I didn’t think it was that
jewelry related, however this will answer your question I think.

Sorry I had to wait till I got home to do a bit of digging.

Here is 2 tables taken from a Government of Canada website

http://tinyurl.com/253ppby

First factor in the efficiency of each type (Table 1) if we assume
they are older conventional units

Electric baseboard = 100%
Oil Furnace = 60%
Propane furnace = 60%

So to deliver the same heat say you need 1,000,000 btu of electric
or 1,667,000 of oil or propane to deliver the same heat.

Next Determine the Price of Energy Sources in Your Area

Call your local fuel and electricity suppliers to find out the cost
of energy sources in your area. This should be the total cost
delivered to your home, and it should include any basic cost that
some suppliers might charge, along with necessary rentals, such as a
propane tank. Be sure to get the prices for the energy sources in
the same units as shown in Table 3. Write the costs in the spaces
provided. Table 3. Energy = Content and Local Price of Various Energy
Sources Energy Source Energy Content Local Unit Price So take you
local costs and then figure the price to make 1 million BTU of
electricity or 1,667,000 of oil or propane and you will have an idea
of which is cheaper or more expensive.

Electricity 3 413 Btu/kWh $0._____ /kWh
Oil 140 000 Btu/gal (US) $0._____ /litre
Natural Gas 1 007 Btu/ft " $0._____m "
Propane 92 700 Btu/gal (US) $0._____litre

With that you will really know what costs more or less in your area.

Now the catch of course is the house may not be insulated which will
drive up heating costs… or may just need calking and
weather-stripping. Another possibility is an outside BBQ connection
that is leaking propane and no one has noticed which would drive the
usage trough the roof.

Another overlooked point of usage is the pilot light, often people
leave it burning year around. If your area is so temperate that you
really don’t need any heating 6 months of the year and are willing
to tolerate a few cold mornings, then turning the gas off to the
furnace can save a lot.

Mind you if you combine the furnace, clothes dryer and stove being
furnished from the same tank yes dollar for dollar your costs will
be higher than a house that heats with oil and only uses oil for
heating.

The trick is take all energy costs for a given home (Oil, propane
and electricity for a year into account). If you want to compare
between 2 houses.

Which costs more to heat

My house with an annual electric bill of $4000.00 or my mother in law
with a $3600.00 propane bill and $800.00 electricity bill?

Or

A guy down the street who pays 2800.00 for oil (Heat only) plus
2000.00 for electricity (to heat water, dry clothes and general base
load)?

See why the numbers are so slippery?

Kay

PS you have to understand we have at least 1 week of -40 during the
winter and several weeks of really cold windy weather, so our costs
are a lot higher than say someone in Virginia,


#19
I suppose that this is not really relevant to the discussion, but
for the record, propane is actually a by-product of natural gas
(methane) production and has nothing to do with gasoline
production. 

If you want to get technical the answer is yes and no.

Propane is a by product of natural gas that is true, but it’s also
true that it’s a by product of petroleum refining. Another name for
propane is LPG or liquid petroleum gas.

Regards Charles A.


#20

While the thread on propane only slightly relates to jewelry making,
I will say this one more thing on the topic, and then I’ll shut up
and take it to a fuel conservation chat group.

You cannot measure the cost of heating fuel one to the other, such
as oil to propane to natural gas to electricity. There are too many
variables such as the size of the house, the level of insulation, the
average temperature kept, the number of windows, the climate of the
outside. Of course, you can measure the BTUs produced by a given
furnace/heater. However, that number cannot be carried over to which
one is more cost effective because the method of delivery (furnace
choice and efficiency) varies too much as well.

forced air. Wood is lower, but it usually is not considered "central"
heat. Most homes that use propane use that fuel for more than just
heat, so their bills are higher than a heating bill alone. They
usually also use it for cooking and hot water. In our case, we use it
for all those, plus laundry dryer plus electricity generation (that
slops over into water bill, as it goes to pump water from our well.)

source of heat. Electricity can go out, propane can run out,
pipelines can be cut, etc. Even if you have a nice and affordable
source of heat, it’s better to have two sources. A free-standing wood
stove is an excellent secondary source. Not only is it especially
nice when the weather is taking a turn for the worse, and for the
holidays, but it gives you the security of knowing if there are
problems with the primary heat, you won’t freeze.

On a slightly different note, you can measure the difference in
electricity production - one source to another. Water produced
electricity is the cheapest, then coal. That’s why our power
companies use those fuels the most. Solar and wind energy are more
expensive, and that’s why they don’t use them as much. I don’t know
where nuclear power sits in this lineup, but I’m betting it is pretty
high up on the cost scale. Electricity is something we use way more
of than we realize (for the most of us.) Living in an alternative
energy home has taught me that. Personally, I love my electricity and
wouldn’t want to go back to the days of kerosene lamps. (We do that
every now and then.)

If you choose to purchase a home that has an inefficient heat
source, you will pay for it one way or another. Either you will pay
more than you like each month, or you will buy a completely new
system. If you love the place, you should buy it and spend what you
need to be able to stay in it. If you can’t afford it, then you
simply must look elsewhere. Hubby and I realize we must move out of
our house when we retire, as it is just too expensive living off the
grid. Anybody looking to go green?

Susan
Sun Country Gems
http://www.suncountrygems.com