Watts News
 Published for the members of North Itasca Electric Cooperative
VOL. 24 NO. 7  -  July 2020

Benefits of electricity over propane


Last winter, we had negative 40 degree temperatures, and a few of our members experienced these issues, and some even had to thaw out their propane lines because their tank regulators froze during the extreme cold we had.

When using propane, one should be aware that when the temperatures drop, so does the pressure in the tank. The same goes with tank levels; the lower the amount of propane in the tank, the lower its pressure. If one does run out of propane, propane companies are required to test your system, and this is not without cost.

Just think if you did not have to worry about the issues above. You don't with an electric heating system. With just an adjustment of your thermostat setting, you can be comfortable without the worry and hassle.

What is the price difference for being hassle-free? You will be surprised. Propane delivers 91,500 BTUs of heat for every gallon at 100 percent efficiency. There are furnaces now that are getting closer to 100 percent efficiency, but that cannot be possible with fossil fuel heating equipment. Most fossil fuel heating systems installed in homes today are around 90 percent efficient or less. The cost of propane right now is priced at $1.29 per gallon. With 91,500 BTUs per gallon, the equivalent cost of being on North Itasca Electric’s Dual Fuel Heating program would be the same cost.

Let's look at the calculations:

  • Propane: $1.29 per gallon producing 91,500 BTUs per gallon at 100 percent efficiency.
  • With electricity producing 3,412 BTUs per kW (1,000 watts), 26.8 kWh = 1 gallon of propane at 100 percent efficiency.
With the Dual Fuel Heating Program’s electric rate being $0.0565 per kWh x (26.8 kWh equaling 1 gallon of propane), the cost of electricity would equal $1.51 per gallon. But it was said propane is at $1.29 per gallon. Remember your furnace is not 100 percent efficient. At 90 percent efficiency, you will need an additional 10 percent to reach the heating level you need. And with the sales tax added, the $1.29 propane would look like this ($1.29 x 1.10% = $1.42 + $0.097 sales tax) = $1.52.

Propane is actually $.001 higher than electric heat at $1.29 and will continue to rise from now throughout the winter.