Heating Your Home: Propane or Natural Gas?

If you are moving into a new home or updating your existing property, one of the questions you might be asking is whether you should be using propane or natural gas to heat your house?

Before you make a decision either way, it would probably help to get an understanding of the difference between the two products and what pros and cons regarding propane or natural gas you should be aware of.

Spot the difference

Natural gas is a mixture of methane and other gases whereas propane is a byproduct of both natural gas processing and petroleum refining.

Natural gas has to be cleaned before it is able to be used and by-products that result from this procedure include hydrocarbons and such as propane as well as butane, pentane and ethane.

The differences between using natural gas or propane in your home come down to factors such as energy efficiency and cost as well as storage and risk factors which need to be considered. If you are comparing the two in terms of how they perform for heating your home or cooking, you will be unlikely to notice any particular difference between natural gas and propane when measuring their performance.

Energy cost

You should find that propane is able to deliver more energy per unit of volume than natural gas and it contains roughly 2.5 times more usable energy content, meaning you will require less propane in order to produce the same amount of energy as natural gas.

All this would in theory point to propane being a more economical choice, but the fact of the matter is that natural gas can work out to be quite a bit cheaper to buy than propane, so it creates a bit of an energy/cost dilemma.

Logistics do come into play when making specific cost comparisons and as you will find out from home heating experts such as Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning, your choice between natural gas or propane, might be influenced by other factors such whether you are in an area where both options are available to your property.

Kinder to the environment

Another important consideration for some homeowners these days is the environmental impact of their decision to choose either natural gas or propane.

The fundamental aspect to consider is that when natural gas is discharged into the environment it is classified as a greenhouse gas, but propane is not considered damaging or toxic and does not harm the environment if it is released into the atmosphere.

Propane is not therefore classified as a greenhouse gas and is deemed to be a green fuel before combustion and still considered to be environmentally-friendly, even after it has been used.

Before you consider these facts to be a clear indication that propane would be the better choice from a green perspective, it is well worth remembering that natural gas and propane are both

classed as alternative fuels.

This is because they both have clean burning characteristics with minimal harmful emissions and toxin levels, so despite their different classifications, they can both be considered to be relatively kind to the environment, compared to some other fuel sources.

It is also worth thinking about the fact that storing propane in tanks can pose a slighter higher risk than natural gas.

Do your research and talk to your chosen heating system installer, so that you can make the right choice for you and your property and whether your home is going to be heated by propane or natural gas.

Joshua V. Reader is a home heating contractor. He likes to share his insights on the field of home improvement. His posts appear on many home improvement blog sites.

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