Ask The M-Network – Electricity vs. Propane
Photo by: Tom Adams
Using the new Ask the M-Network feature, a reader submitted a question asking about whether it was cheaper to use propane or electric appliances. The question was from Lynnea (no, not Lynnae from from Being Frugal), and she wrote:
We just made a move to the country…whew what a rude awakening when we got the first few propane gas bills. Over $100.00 a week. We now have the heat set at 62 and are using our fireplace…and checking our propane tank weekly.
We also have a propane hot water heater and range…Is it cheaper to run either of those using electric…I know the initial cost of replacing the appliances are an expense, but we will be glad to change if the cost reduction to run them is worth it….It is now a matter of principal, also..This country has to find more efficient and cost effective heating….whew
I just recently wrote on this topic and the answer is: “it depends”. You need to compare the cost of your propane to the cost of electricity. If propane is more expensive in your area, than yes you’ll save money by switching to electric appliances…BUT…it could take a long time.
The initial cost of replacing your appliances coupled with the cost of running the necessary electric wiring will be fairly expensive. You’ll need to divide that by the savings you will get from propane to electricity to determine how long it will take you in energy cost savings to pay for the new appliances. My guess? A long time. Assuming it is a long time, it really won’t be worth it to switch.
Let’s get some perspective from the other M-Network members:
David from My Two Dollars
Ahh, propane – I know it well. It is pretty expensive right now, and it can fluctuate wildly over the course of a winter. And since I doubt you are going to go and install a solar hot water heater or a gas fireplace, you are stuck living with it. As for appliances, an electric or gas hot water heater will probably cost you just as much, so you would not save much money there – at least not for a few years until you recoup the water heater cost in energy savings. (Unless you install solar power to run it!) And your stove barely uses any propane, so the money is not being wasted there. I would imagine that most of your propane bill is from heating your home and your hot water heater. So what are a few things you do to reduce the expense of heating your house?
1. Rolls of insulating tape cost a few bucks and can normally do several windows or doors. If you have a drafty house, spending $5 could go a long way to save you money and keep you warm.
2. Buy yourself a space heater. These can be very inexpensive and very efficient at the same time. We have one that we are able to move to where we are in case we are very cold. And they sure are safer now than the ones my parents had when I was a kid!
3. Close off unused rooms. We have a guest bedroom that is only used for when people stay with us – so we keep the door shut and the heat turned off in that space.
4. Turn down the hot water heater to somewhere in-between Warm and Hot. Leaving it at Hot all the time wastes money unless you have a family of 5 who take showers every day!
5. Wash your clothes only in cold water. Hot water just tends to set stains and shorten the lifespan of clothes anyway.
6. Open the blinds and drapes during the day and close them at night.During the day, the sun will come in and help warm up your house, and at night you should close them so the heat stays indoors.
7. Insulate your hot water heater. The kits are very inexpensive and do a good job of keeping your water hotter, longer.
And check out Inexpensive Ways To Stay Warm This Winter and Ten Ways To Save Money On Heating Bills This Winter for more tips. Good luck reducing those propane bills!
Patrick from Cash Money Life
It’s difficult to do a quick estimate on how much you could save by switching appliances because there are so many types available and utility prices frequently fluctuate. I don’t think I can give you a good answer there, so I can point you in the direction of making your home more efficient.
One thing you can do is a home energy audit which can give you insight into how well your home is insulated and see if there are ways you can increase your home’s efficiency.
In addition, there are many little things you can do around the house to make your home more comfortable and and less expensive to heat. Check out these tips free ways to save money on your heating costs and some cheap ways to save on heating”. Hopefully some of these can help you reign in your heating bills!
PaidTwice from I’ve Paid For This Twice Already
I don’t know comparisons of electric vs propane directly. I have been “told” that a gas range, dryer, water heater, etc are cheaper to run than electric. I will say our electric dryer is a total energy suck.
Use the fireplace all you can! That is all I can say. Argh heating.
Lynnea, I sure hope this helps answer your question. Readers, how about you? Have a perspective or opinion on Lynnea’s question? Feel free to chime in by adding a comment.
Do you have a question you would like to have us try to answer? Send it in to Ask The M-Network!
And please remember that our answers are opinions and should not be considered professional advice and we assume no responsibility of any kind. Please consult a certified financial expert as needed.