Propane and natural gas are both popular energy sources used for heating homes and powering appliances. If you have the option of using either, how do you know which is the best choice for your energy needs? The answer is not as straightforward as you may think, as both have pros and cons.

What’s the Difference?

Propane and natural gas are both fossil fuels, and both are primarily produced domestically. For homeowners, the main difference between the two is that propane is compressed into a liquid form and either sold by the gallon in portable canisters or delivered via truck to a permanent storage tank.

Natural gas, however, remains in its gaseous state and is delivered to your home via a pipeline and pushed directly into the home. Unlike propane, natural gas is measured by cubic feet rather than gallons since it is a form of gas. Natural gas is also made up of several gases such as propane, butane, ethane, and methane.

Storage and Delivery

Propane can be delivered anywhere, so it’s an ideal choice for people who live in remote areas or neighborhoods that don’t have natural gas pipelines. However, you’ll have to wait for deliveries to get your tank refilled, and you might not be able to get the fuel you need after a large snowstorm or another emergency.

Since natural gas is delivered directly into your home through the pipeline on your property, it’s always available and needs very little maintenance. However, a leak in a pipe that’s connected to the main pipeline could increase your utility bill more than a leak in a propane tank with a finite supply. Having a new natural gas line installed is more expensive than installing a propane tank on your property, but the investment could reduce your utility bill more if gas is available in your neighborhood.

Energy Efficiency

Propane can be more expensive than natural gas, but the same amount of propane produces about twice as much heat than natural gas. Both types of fuel are more efficient and less expensive than electricity or heating oil. Both energy sources can be used for home heating and powering appliances such as a range, clothes dryer, and dishwasher.

Cost Efficiency

For residents that have access to natural gas, this might be the best option for you as natural gas is produced locally in Pennsylvania, which means the transportation costs will be lower. Because there is less processing, less transportation costs, and an abundance of local supply, natural gas tends to be cheaper per cubic foot than propane.

Propane, however, can be processed anywhere in the country and delivered to local holding stations before being delivered to your home. Transportation costs, maintenance costs, and fueling costs can all add up when considering propane as your choice for heat.

Regardless of the cost or burning efficiency of propane and natural gas, true efficiency is determined by how well your furnace works. If you have a furnace that is approaching 20 years old or has surpassed that mark, consider having a certified technician inspect it. To schedule a certified technician, contact our sister company, UGI Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, today.

Environmental Impact

Propane is the cleanest burning fossil fuel available, and it produces about half the carbon dioxide and other emissions of gasoline. It also doesn’t harm water or soil. Propane is not toxic and will not damage the environment if there is a leak in the line. Propane is considered a green fuel and is eco-friendly before and after combustion.

Natural gas is a greenhouse gas that burns more cleanly than most other fossil fuels. Pollutants from natural gas typically only get into the atmosphere after leaks in pipelines or accidents during drilling. After spending several years in the air, methane will break down into carbon dioxide on its own.

For more information on choosing the right energy source for your home, please call us at 1-800-427-8545 or visit the Residential Energy section of our website.