Propane Questions and Answers

1. What is propane and how is it made?

Propane is a hydrocarbon (C3H8) and is sometimes referred to as liquefied petroleum gas, LP-gas or LPG. Propane is produced from both natural gas processing and crude oil refining, in roughly equal amounts. It is nontoxic, colorless and virtually odorless. As with natural gas, a strong identifying odor is added so the gas can be readily detected.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) consists mainly of propane, propylene, butane, and butylene in various mixtures. However, for all fuels in the United States, the mixture is mainly propane. The components of LPG are gases at normal temperatures and pressures.

Chemical Properties: LPG, like natural gas and unlike gasoline, is a simple mixture of hydrocarbons, mainly propane/propylene (C3S) and butane/butylene

2. Where can I get information about the price and supply of propane, especially as it relates to seasonal temperature changes?

Propane, like all home heating fuels, is crucially important during cold winter months. For more information regarding propane prices and supplies and how they relate to you, please click here.

3. Is propane safe to use in my home?

Propane is a safe fuel to use in your home and business. Propane has a narrow range of flammability and cannot be ingested like gasoline or alcohol fuels because  it is released as a vapor from a pressurized container. In addition, award-winning preventive maintenance programs like GAS Check (Gas Appliance System  Check) ensure that homeowners understand how to properly maintain their propane appliances and enjoy a healthy, safe environment.

4. How should propane tanks be stored?

Propane tanks should be stored outside. Do not store any propane tanks in the garage or any other indoor areas at any time, even during the winter months. As for
excessive heat, propane tanks should only be filled to 80 percent of the tank’s capacity. This is to allow for some liquid propane expansion that might occur during hot days.

5. Are there steps that I can take to lower my energy bill?

While the factors that contribute to higher fuel prices cannot be controlled by propane retailers or consumers, there are some simple steps customers can take to  lower their energy bill year-round. The industry encourages homeowners to save on energy costs by following this three-step energy plan:

  • Explore fuel payment plan options to spread your projected annual costs over many months, balancing the costs of seasonally higher bills. Many propane companies offer a “fixed-price” option, and can “lock-in” a price. Call your propane retailer to see if such an option is available.

  • Set up a regular delivery schedule with your retailer. Consider filling your tank before the start of the heating season rather than waiting until it is empty.

  • The federal government is offering a tax credit of up to $500 for qualifying energy-saving improvements made during the 2006 and 2007 calendar years. Credits are available for many home improvements including high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment such as propane water heaters and furnaces.  For more information visit www.energytaxincentives.org.

Customers can also lower their overall energy bills by making a few small changes in the home:

  • Protect against drafts by caulking and weather-stripping around windows, doors, and other openings such as ducts, fans, and vents.

  • Inspect and tune-up your residential heating system regularly for efficiency. Contact your local propane retailer to inquire about a home heating system  inspection. A properly working heating system is more efficient and will save you money.

  • Change your furnace filter monthly. Clean filters will help your heating system work more efficiently. If on a monthly payment plan, use receipt of your propane bill as a reminder.

  • Invest in a furnace thermostat timer that can save money by lowering your home’s temperature when you are not at home. You can cut annual heating bills  by as much as 10 percent per year by turning your thermostat back 10-15 percent for eight hours per day.

  • Switch to a propane water heater, which provides significant energy efficiency over an electric water heater. Over time, propane water heaters can cost one-third less to operate and recover hot water twice as quickly as electric water heaters.

  • When using a water heater, turn it down from the standard 140 degrees to 130 degrees. You could save more than 10 percent on your water-heating bill.

  • Increase your water heater’s efficiency by draining it every six months to remove lime deposits and sediment.

  • Install flow-restricting showerheads. You can reduce hot water usage by up to 50 percent without affecting shower pressure.

  • Run washing machines –and clothes dryers– with a full load.

  • Close vents and doors in unused rooms. Make sure your attic and basement are properly insulated.

6. Are there any tips I can follow when using a propane water heater?

  • Turn down your water heater from the standard 140 degrees to 130 degrees. You could save more than 10 percent on your water-heating bill.

  • Increase your water heater’s efficiency by draining it every six months to remove lime deposits and sediment.

  • Install flow-restricting showerheads. You can reduce hot water usage by up to 50 percent without affecting shower pressure.

  • Repair leaky faucets to prevent waste. A leak that fills a coffee cup in 10 minutes wastes 3,200 gallons of water a year.

  • Run washing machines and clothes dryers with a full load.

7. Are there any tips when using a propane stove?

When purchasing a propane oven or range:

  • Look for one with an automatic, electric ignition system. An electric ignition saves propane-because a pilot light is not burning continuously.

  • Be sure that all burners are burning with a blue, cone-shaped flame. A yellow flame indicates clogged air inlets or burners that need adjustment. Contact a propane retailer’s service department immediately if you do not see a blue flame.

  • Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.

8. Where can I find information on vent-free gas appliances?

Please click here to learn about Vent-Free Gas Products and the Vent-Free Gas Products Alliance. Please click here to view the consumer guide to vent-free gas

9. Where can I find information on gas fireplaces?

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) is an international trade association first established in 1980 to represent and promote the interests of the hearth products industry in North America.

10. Where can I find information on gas appliance manufacturers?

GAMA, the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association, is a national trade association whose members manufacture appliances, components and related products used in connection with space heating, water heating and commercial food service.

11. What rules should I follow when using a propane grill?

Please click here to read the safe grilling tips.

12. Are there any Energy Assistance programs available to me?

The U.S. Department of Energy sponsors a weatherization assistance program to help eligible households permanently reduce their energy bills by making their  homes more energy efficient. Application information is available on the Internet at www.eere.energy.gov/weatherization/apply.html

13. Where can I compare various heating fuels?

Please visit the Energy Savings Calculator to compare propane to electricity. Additionally, the Department of Energy provides information on various heating fuels.