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Propane Gas or Electric

My brother is having a new 1300 sq. ft. house built.
He has the option of forced air propane/dx cooling or forced air electric heat pump/electric back-up heat.
Which should he chose?
I suppose electric would be cheaper to install and more expensive to run.


  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997

    That depends....In my area, he would be called crazy for even thinking electric. Is it cheaper to put in, you betcha..Will it cost him alot in the long run...Oh yea... But I know in some area's of this country it can be cheaper. Has he given thought to a hydronic system? Even if he went with air handlers? Has he looked at oil? All of these option's are out there but it depend's on the individual area....Make sure a proper heat loss is done on the house and all options are explored...And personally, I wouldn't be as concerned with the initial install cost as I would the long term cost to run it.
  • Why not oil?

    I bet oil is cheaper per BTU in your area than either propane or electric. And it doesn't pose the risk of explosion that propane can (heavier than air).

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  • singh
    singh Member Posts: 866

    heat loss must be small in a 1300 sq. ft home.
    hard to find equipment that is not oversized for such a small load.
    Except electric.
    I second a hydronic delivery system.
    If he has any options, spend a little more in construction upgrades, go above and beyond min. insulation and windows .If he has a basement and slab insulate it,don't forget to put some pex tubes in just in case. insulate the foundation walls. This way what ever the heating system, operating costs won't be too bad.

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  • Ed_26
    Ed_26 Member Posts: 284
    new home

    Hope he's going with ICF at least for basement/crawl space. Some are using ICF for all exterior walls. ICF (insulated concrete forms) is exceptional for strength & insulation value (also expensive), but in the long view, well worth the cost.
  • John Mills_5
    John Mills_5 Member Posts: 950
    More info

    Where is he, what are the costs per gallon of LP and kwh of electricity and what's the budget?

    Around here, an all electric home with good HP is cheapest annual bill, even over natural gas. But we are the exception.

    Most people building a small home don't have the budget for hydronic heat so forced air, especially if cooling is desired, will likely be the choice.
  • Ken_40
    Ken_40 Member Posts: 1,320

    I also assumed the same thing (that oil would be cheaper than LP) - and went with a condensing oil boiler for the new house. I was wrong so far!

    Propane around here (northern VT) is 20% less per BTU than oil - and has been for the entire time I've needed it, about 10 months now...

    I am still puzzled as hell over that dynamic, but it seems to be the rule - not the exception around here.
  • Dale
    Dale Member Posts: 1,317
    small house

    It does indeed depend on where the house is located as to best fuel cost. As the other post said the heat loss will be really mimimal, I hope he goes with a basement instead of a crawl space if water table permits, that would be major improvement in living space. With modern energy star construction the heat loss will be so small the hot water will be the key energy use. If the site permits a ground source heat pump with tube in the basement would be an excellent choice, with a thicker basement floor you could maintain temp for a week without elect. Some areas have very good off peak elect rates, like 4.6 cents per kwh for water and space heating. Put in a nat gas or propane heater rated non elect fireplace and you have backup if the power is off.
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