Is Propane or Electricity Better for Home Heating?

February 27th, 2023


We compare two energy sources for comfort, reliability and affordability.

Every day, we speak to homeowners from Mays Landing to Monroeville — and plenty of other towns in southern New Jersey — about the best home heating options.

The last 12 months have brought significant price fluctuations in energy markets, and there’s a lot of talk about transitioning homes to electric heat and appliances. It’s not surprising that many families are weighing their options between propane and electric heating. At Woodruff Energy, we work with all kinds of home comfort systems. We can help you choose between propane-fired and electric heating.

Which energy source provides better comfort?

Right now, about 16 percent of New Jersey households use electricity for home heating, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). There is a significant push to move homes to electric heat pumps in this state, but heat pumps aren’t always an effective heating source in sustained sub-freezing weather. Electric heat pumps rely on outdoor air, so their effectiveness drops as the outdoor temperature does.

By contrast, the Propane Education & Research Council has found that propane furnaces consistently heat air to 115 to 125 degrees, no matter how cold it is outside.

While homes with the most advanced (and expensive) cold weather heat pumps can depend on them all year round, many New Jersey households have heat pump systems as a backup heat source (plus an excellent cooling option) in milder months while depending on propane, natural gas or heating oil when it gets frigid.

Is electricity or propane more affordable?

In the last year, all energy prices surged due to market speculation, supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine. Propane rates rose less than other energy sources because, as a largely domestically-made fuel, it’s partly insulated from global energy spikes.

Comparing propane and electricity rates can be challenging because they are measured differently. But here is a helpful metric: It takes 27 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity to produce the same amount of energy as one gallon of propane.

Look at the per-kWh rate on your most recent electric bill, multiply it by 27 and compare it to your region’s per-gallon rate for propane. This will provide a starting point for comparing affordability.

Which is the more reliable energy?

One factor that is very much in propane’s favor is reliability. A study by the EIA found that New Jersey households face an average of over 15 hours without power each year. The electric grid is already struggling to keep up with demand.

By contrast, propane is a plentiful fuel that you control. Your on-site propane take will not be affected by a utility outage. And homes with propane-powered backup generators have total security against a blackout.

Let Woodruff Energy help you decide if propane or electricity is your best option.

If you’re interested in exploring your heat pump and propane system options, please get in contact with our team of experienced technicians.

Woodruff Energy is a full-service HVAC company. We install high-quality heat pump systems from Daikin, as well as oil- and gas-fired boilers and furnaces from leading manufacturers. We’ll talk about your home setup and budget and give you a candid assessment of whether electric or propane heat is the best choice.

Get in touch with a Woodruff Energy technician today to explore your home heating options.