Propane Heat: A Blessing or Curse?


Propane Heat: Propane is widely accessible throughout the United States and can be used as a fuel for home heating appliances such as furnaces and water heaters. Propane is typically purchased during the summer months when rates per gallon are lower since it is more cost-effective to do so. Propane is typically delivered to the residence and stored in a specific tank. Propane heat not only helps cut down on emissions of greenhouse gases but also helps cut down on overall energy bills. To heat with propane, a specialized furnace is not necessary anyway. Propane’s distinct fuel properties can be accommodated with a straightforward and inexpensive modification to the gas line or gas furnace in the house. During the colder months, the most effective method of heating a home is to install a propane furnace that is part of the central heating or zone heating system. The furnace, which may be outfitted with a fan or blower and connected to a distribution vent system, is responsible for supplying heated air to the entirety of the home. The average lifespan of a propane heater is between 15 and 20 years of continuous use. The effectiveness of the propane heating system is increased by advanced venting systems that are outfitted with switch-controlled vent dampers. These dampers close when the heat hits demand levels. 

Systems That Use Radiant Heat

Radiant systems are a type of floor heating that circulate hot water through tubes implanted in the floor and are powered by either a boiler or a water heater that runs on propane. It’s possible that employing radiant heat will be more cost-effective than installing a central heating system with ducts. The reason for this is that the heat rises naturally throughout the entire space as it is emitted from the floor below. To maximize the effectiveness of your use of propane, insulate the boiler or the water heater with an insulating blanket.

Ignitors and Temperature Regulators

Installing electronic igniters in place of furnace installation and water heater pilot lights is one way to reduce the amount of money spent on heating a home with propane while simultaneously improving the system’s overall efficiency. Electronic igniters startup just when needed, eliminating the need for a continuously burning pilot light that results in the waste of propane. Installing a programmable thermostat in your propane furnace can assist increase the effectiveness of the heating system by allowing you to set the temperature to a lower level while you are asleep or away from the house. The majority of programmable thermostats include four settings that can be programmed for each of the seven days in the week. These settings are “Wake,” “Leave,” “Stay,” and “Sleep.”

Isolation as well as Caulking

Verify that both your attic and the rest of your home have sufficient insulation if you want to reduce the amount you spend on heating with gas and maximize its effectiveness. Utilize the formula for measurement that is provided by the United States Department of Energy to check the levels of insulation. The formula shifts depending on the kind of insulation being used. Close and caulk all openings that could allow air to escape, especially around windows and doors. Either install a vapor diffuser barrier beneath the house in the crawl space at the time of new construction or add insulation to the floor before installing a vapor diffuser barrier. All of these different approaches contribute to the more effective utilization of propane as a heating source.

Are you interested in purchasing a house that is heated by propane? If you’re like millions of other people in this country, you’re probably clueless about what it takes to heat using propane. You may have used it to light the barbecue, but up until now, you haven’t brought it inside your house. That could appear to be daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Propane has established itself as a viable choice for house heating even though it is currently used to warm only 5% of homes in the United States at this time. Propane is known for its high efficiency and low cost. Why? A properly operating propane heating system has the potential to lower both energy costs and emissions of greenhouse gases. Heating with propane can cut emissions of greenhouse gases by as much as 68 percent.

Pros of Propane Heat

The possibility of lower costs for energy. Propane was at one time a substantially more cost-effective solution, particularly in comparison to electric heat. This reality started to shift as the propane sector grappled with shortages and pricing rises, but propane still has a lot of potential as a source of lower-cost energy — particularly if you locate a trustworthy propane firm that offers rates that are more affordable than the market average. To take advantage of the lower prices that are offered during the off-season, you should place your order for propane during the summer months. A decrease in emissions of greenhouse gases. Since propane does not have any harmful properties, it does not contribute anything negative to the environment when it is released into the atmosphere. Because of this, selecting this alternative is a very earth-friendly choice. Produces a more intense heat. There is a spectrum of degrees of warmth. Some homeowners who have electric heat pumps are dissatisfied with the level of heat that is produced by the air-return vents in their homes. As a result of the greater heat temperatures that are produced by propane heaters, the heat that is released from the air registers is perceptibly warmer, which makes the chilly winter months just a little bit more pleasant.

Cons of using propane heat

Cons of using propane heat include an increased level of obligation for the homeowner. Propane does not enter your home through pre-existing networks of pipes like electricity or natural gas does since there is no centralized distribution system for propane. Instead, propane enters your home through the open air. Because of this, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to arrange for frequent delivery of propane. The capacity of your tank will determine how frequently you will receive these deliveries. If you rent your propane tank from the firm, they will take care of any repairs or maintenance that may be required. However, if you buy the tank altogether, you will be responsible for arranging and paying for any repairs or maintenance that may be required. There is the possibility of an unattractive tank. A propane tank on your property can detract from an otherwise lovely landscape in a variety of ways, depending on its size and where it is located on the property. If you are the owner of the tank, you may be able to have it buried, but if you are renting the tank from the propane business, you will not have this option available to you. The majority of the time, homeowners decide to leave it above ground for several reasons, including the fact that it is easier to reach and the fact that it saves them from having to dig up their land to install it.

Propane Today and in the Future

Propane is an efficient, versatile, and readily available alternative to natural gas as a heating fuel, all of which contribute to its growing popularity as a choice for residential heating among homeowners in today’s market. At present, propane is also being utilized in a significant amount within the transportation sector. In contrast to diesel or natural gas, it is a fuel that is frequently used in the operation of school buses. When it comes to heating your home with propane, there is yet another issue to take into consideration, and that is the method by which it is generated and the possible impact it may have in the years to come. 

Propane is a byproduct that is created during the processing of natural gas as well as the process of refining petroleum, however, many people may not be aware of this fact. In addition, propane can be a byproduct that results from the processing of renewable diesel, which can be made entirely from renewable resources. Propane production has the potential to become an even more environmentally friendly alternative fuel in the future as a result of the continued adoption of renewable diesel as a sustainable fuel choice by the heating industry.

Safety Tips for Home Heating

Make Sure There Is No Clutter in the Tank

Your propane tank needs plenty of room, so make sure that goods are not stacked up around it. This is especially important about ignitable materials, such as paper or fabrics, as well as anything else that can catch fire. During the fall, you should remove any leaves that may have accumulated near the tank, and during the spring, you should be sure to keep grass clippings and any other debris away from it.

Put in place fire safety measures such as smoke and CO detectors.

Carbon monoxide detectors are required by law in all residences in Maryland that were constructed after 2008 and that utilize fossil fuels (such as propane). Even if your property was built before 2008, you should still install carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms on every level of the home and particularly close to bedrooms and other sleeping areas. Carbon monoxide is a gas that is both odorless and colorless, therefore your home must be equipped with an alarm that will notify you if the levels of the gas in your home rise above what is considered safe. Be sure to have a plan of action ready if a detector goes off, and check the batteries regularly to make sure they are still functioning properly.

Have a look at the user guide

Your propane tank’s owner’s manual should be able to give you precise information regarding how to care for it most effectively and how to raise its level of safety. You will learn what to do if there is a leak or similar dangerous circumstance by reading the instructions. In the event of an emergency or to have your tank repaired, the user manual will almost certainly advise you to get in touch with a specialist who is dedicated to working with propane or an emergency responder.

Watch the Position of the Pilot Light Carefully

There is a small flame that stays lit at all times in your propane heating system, and this is called a pilot light. When everything is working as it should, the light in the system’s pilot position should remain lighted and not go out. A pilot light that goes out frequently could be an indication that there is an issue somewhere else in the system. Even though reigniting the pilot light might seem like a simple enough problem to solve on your own, the safest course of action would be to get a trained professional to take care of the issue for you. If your propane heating system is not functioning properly and you attempt to re-light the pilot, you run the risk of starting a fire or an explosion, although the likelihood of either happening is low. For your protection, it’s best to call in the experts.

Be Aware of What to Do if You Smell Propane Gas

First things first, it’s important that you have an idea of how propane gas smells. The next step is to determine what to do if you or anybody else in your house detects an odor. The odor of propane gas is often compared to that of rotten eggs, which is perhaps the most accurate comparison. Some people may comment that it smells like a skunk or like an animal that has died and decomposed. Propane does not normally have a stench like this, therefore it must be something else. Instead, for reasons of both flavor and safety, the scent is added by the maker to the gas. Propane can cause serious injury or death.

Maintaining your propane tank regularly is important.

You must perform routine maintenance and inspections on your propane tank. Your propane supplier can inspect your tank and advise you on whether any adjustments or repairs are required. When you sign up for a service agreement, you can have the peace of mind that comes along with knowing that your propane tank and appliances will be maintained regularly and that any problems can be easily and swiftly rectified.

Get a Qualified Technician to Work on Your Propane Tank.

A problem with your propane tank or system might be something that can be easily fixed or that you can handle on your own, but this is not always the case. Even though it appears like a simple issue, you should always have a trained professional examine the situation and make any necessary repairs for your safety. If you try to tighten a loose valve on your own, or if you meddle with the connectors or other parts, you could end up with a leak or another more complex problem.

After any storms, you should check on the status of your propane tank.

Storms of many kinds, ranging from snowstorms to thunderstorms, are not uncommon in Southern Maryland. There is a possibility that debris such as leaves and branches could collect around your propane tank as a result of some storms, while other types of storms could result in accumulations of snow or ice around your tank. After a storm, you should check your tank and clear the surrounding area of any debris. You may need to brush the snow away to make the vents and valves accessible. Instead of using a shovel to clear snow and other debris from the area around your propane tank and system, use a broom to avoid the chance of damaging your equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Smell of Propane Dangerous?

Propane has a distinct odor, yet in and of itself it is not harmful. The issue lies, rather, in what it is that the odor might be indicating. If you smell something that reminds you of a skunk or something that smells like rotting eggs, this could indicate that you have a gas leak or that your propane system is failing in some manner. You should leave the area immediately and get in touch with a skilled expert if you smell propane because this is a warning indication that you need to do so rather than a threat to your safety. There is one thing about the scent of propane that is important to point out. Propane can be difficult to smell for certain people for a variety of reasons, including a diminished sense of smell, a cold, or a history of smoking. Because the odor’s concentration lessens over time, the smell of propane may also become less potent over time. Rust buildup in the tank can also compromise the potency of the stench that is produced by the propane. There is also the possibility that your brain and nose “grow used to” the smell, to the point where you are no longer aware of it. In the case that you are concerned that you will not be able to notice the odor of propane, you can put a detector in your house that will notify you in the event of a gas leak involving propane.

What Should You Do If You Smell Propane?

If you smell propane, even if you only believe you smell propane, or if a detector goes off, the best thing to do is to leave the area as soon as possible. You must immediately leave your home as well as the surrounding area if you smell gas. When you are sure that everyone is out of the house and safe, phone 911 or your local fire department and ask them to come to take a look at the situation. Additionally, you should contact the retailer of the propane you use to have them inspect your system and tank and perform any necessary repairs.

What Capacity Does the Tank Have?

There is a wide range of sizes available for propane tanks used in homes. If you know the size of the container ahead of time, you’ll have a better notion of how frequently you’ll need to refill it. The larger the tank, the greater the amount of time that will pass before it needs to be refilled.

Can I See Maintenance Records for the System?

For a propane tank to function properly, it is necessary to do routine and preventative maintenance on it just as one would with any other household device. If you are looking to buy a home that has a propane tank, you should ask the current owner to submit records to demonstrate that the tank has been serviced and to discover any difficulties that the current owner may have experienced in the past. If they are unable to give you those records, you will need to hire an expert to evaluate the tank to ensure that you are not taking on the issues that were caused by the prior owner. You should also make sure that you are aware of the age of the system to determine whether or not you will need to replace it shortly as opposed to farther down the road.

Are the Tanks Located Above or Below Ground?

Tanks that are rented from a propane supplier are typically placed above ground since it is simpler to access and maintain these tanks. However, above-ground tanks are not necessarily appealing to the eye for a variety of reasons. If the homeowner owns the tank, they have the option of burying it in the earth rather than keeping it above ground. Even though this may result in some additional issues regarding accessibility, albeit minor ones, it has the potential to significantly contribute to the maintenance of an attractive façade and the creation of extra useable space in the yard.

How Efficient Is the System Overall?

Even though there are basic requirements that must be met by all contemporary home appliances, there are still varying degrees of effectiveness among the many types of systems. Make it a point to inquire in great detail concerning the age of the system as well as its overall effectiveness. Before the sale is finalized, you should most definitely have an experienced specialist evaluate an older system. If it is more than ten to fifteen years old, you may also need to set aside money in your budget for a system upgrade to prevent significant problems that could end up being rather expensive.


Propane is a fuel that can be used in a wide variety of applications. Its most typical use is to provide heat and power to various home appliances. Propane gas can power a wide variety of appliances, including ranges, grills, water heaters, and dryers. However, if the switch to propane in the home was only made lately, not all of the appliances may make use of it. When making an offer, you should think about whether or not the appliances will need to be upgraded for you to get the most out of the gas.


The greater the capacity of your tank, the longer you can go without needing to plan a delivery. Propane tanks for homes can be anywhere from 120 to over 1,000 gallons in capacity. Make it a point to inquire about the capacity of the tank so that you are aware of how frequently you will have to get it refilled.

Is it expensive to heat with propane?

Propane heat is something you should be on the lookout for when house buying because it is less expensive than electricity and more efficient than natural gas.

How does one heat their home with propane?

While other homeowners rent their propane tanks from a fuel provider, others altogether own their propane storage containers. Both of these arrangements have their plusses and minuses.

Which of my home’s appliances can be converted to run on propane?

Propane is a fuel that can be used in a wide variety of applications. Its most typical use is to provide heat and power to various home appliances. Propane gas can power a wide variety of appliances, including ranges, grills, water heaters, and dryers.

What capacity does a typical household propane tank have?

Propane is a fuel that can be used in a wide variety of applications. Its most typical use is to provide heat and power to various home appliances. Propane gas can power a wide variety of appliances, including ranges, grills, water heaters, and dryers.

How a homeowner can maximize the potential and efficiency of Propane Heat?

Homeowners can take the following steps to maximize the efficiency of Propane Heat:

  • Electric igniters should be used in place of pilot lights in heating systems and water heaters. This results in a reduction in the amount of propane that is used in the process of producing heat because the propane is no longer required to maintain the pilot light.
  • Set your home’s thermostat to a schedule with a programmable model. This can be programmed to function at different settings at different times of the day, allowing you to reduce the amount of propane you use to heat your home while you are away from it.
  • Conduct a comprehensive analysis of your home’s energy efficiency. Check to check that the insulation in your home is installed correctly. Check to see sure the doors and windows have proper seals and that they keep the cold air out. In addition to that, we strongly suggest installing a vapor diffuser barrier in your crawlspace.

Which Home Appliances Are Powered by Propane Fuel?

Grills, washers and dryers, fireplaces, generators, and stoves that are powered off by propane heat can potentially be found in residential properties in addition to the heating system. It is essential to have a good understanding of which of the home’s appliances already run on propane and which of that equipment could require an upgrade to make optimal use of the propane that is already present there. Having this information at your disposal can also make it easier to calculate your monthly energy bills.

Whose property is the tank?

When it comes to storage tanks, homeowners sometimes have the option of buying their own. In some instances, the propane supplier provides it to them on a rental basis. If you own the tank, you won’t have to pay any monthly leasing costs, and you’ll probably have greater leeway to choose how you want to handle fuel consumption within your own home. If you rent the tank, you will be responsible for paying monthly fees; however, the propane company will often pay for any repairs or maintenance that are necessary if an issue arises. During the process of selling a home, you are permitted to transfer a rental agreement; however, you are not obligated to inherit the tank and company from the previous owner. As the new homeowner, you can choose the company with which you want to conduct business. In the next section, which is titled “Questions to Ask Your Propane Company,” we will discuss some of the most important questions that you should ask.

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