Which are cheaper to operate?
Propane vs. Electric Appliances
TDS Reader Contributors
Propane vs Electric
Is using electric appliances instead of propane to do the same work cost-effective? I know that electric heat is the least efficient way to create heat, but if it's cheaper, then I think this winter I'm all for inefficient! I'm wondering if there is a general consensus on this or if it's completely unique to one's home/region.
I have an electric popcorn popper, which I almost donated to a thrift store this week because I prefer to make our popcorn in a huge stewpot on our propane stove. I decided, however, to hang onto the popcorn popper until I found out if it may be cheaper to use electricity rather than propane. (We're already behind on our propane payments this winter, and just don't have the money to knock it out. It's going to be a chilly winter for us! I also have an electric plug-in portable oven. Cooking with the propane oven helps warm the kitchen, but with the way our house is laid out, it doesn't warm much else.
Generally speaking, are electric appliances cheaper to use than propane? How can I find this out?
We Switched to Electricity
We made the switch to electricity this year because propane was so expensive; in our area, it is $2.79 a gallon. We have a wood stove for backup, which we will use sparingly since we do not have a lot of seasoned wood. Because our clothes dryer is electric, we re-vented it into the doorway of the bathroom (covering the end with a nylon stocking to catch the lint). The bathroom is one of the coldest rooms in the house, because of its location. So I coordinate doing laundry with shower night. By the time I have done a couple of loads and put them into the dryer, the bathroom is warm.
The only propane item we have now is the kitchen stove. I bake a lot, so the kitchen gets warm and it's open to the living room. I have most of our kitchen appliances on surge protectors (except for the freezers and refrigerator) and I simply turn off the protectors and everything is off at night.
We decided this summer when making the "electric" decision what we could live without and not feel deprived. One of the things we decided to live without was TV. Our children have TVs but no cable or satellite. In our neck of the woods, we don't get network TV without those things, so they have tapes or DVDs. My husband and I get our news from the Internet (which we turn off every night with one of the surge protectors). We use battery during the day and I charge it up with the electricity before I turn it off at night. We also pay for 100% renewable resources for our electricity, and even with the increased cost for this, we are still paying much less than for propane.
We wear sweaters and sweatshirts, socks, and I even wear a cap at night. I sleep in a cold room (not freezing), but the older I get the colder my ears get. The cap keeps me warm and I can still hear movement in the house at night. I have a disabled husband, son and daughter. I am careful that they do not get too cold because of the decisions we made. We have left room in our decision making about using electricity so that if the cold becomes a health issue, we have backup. We purchased enough portable heaters so everyone can have one to use. We don't expect that it will cost us much more than we would normally pay anyway. It's been our experience that using electricity causes dryness, which makes it seem colder. Every room has a pan in front of the heaters to alleviate this problem. Now if we can just get the dog to stop drinking from them.
Article About Propane vs Electric
I found an article on Propane Vs Electric that may be helpful.
Inefficient Propane Appliances
My husband and I have the same dilemma. Propane seems so expensive. Last winter we were paying around $250 per month for a chilly house (around 62 degrees).
Here is something interesting that may help you. During one of our fills, my husband was talking to the propane guy, keeping the dogs out of his way. The propane guy, about ready to retire, gave my husband some news. Stoves and water heaters are the most inefficient propane appliances. Stoves are first. If a person bakes a lot during the summer, the propane usage will almost rival the furnace usage. The water heater is next. It can be very inefficient unless you have one of the newer tankless systems.
So now, although our stove is propane, we have a countertop oven for my baking and those little plug-in burners until we can get an electric stove. I also use a slow cooker, contact grill, and microwave as much as possible. We are getting an electric water heater after the first of the year as ours broke recently. We'll have cold water until we buy our new water heater.
We aren't taking out the propane furnace, but we are not using it. We bought a decent portable heater with a thermostat and have two portable radiators. We put plastic on the windows (big difference) and are looking into a wood burner. The house had one before we owned it. The chimney is capped but looks usable with minimal work.
I know the electric heaters make the electric bills go up, but I don't figure it can be any worse than the propane. We'll see. If we can get the wood burner, that will help tremendously. Wood is available cheaply, even if I have to buy it.
Reviewed March 2018
Take the Next Step:
- Find out how to figure appliance electricity usage.
- Will new energy-efficient appliances save you money?
- Discover savvy tips for reducing all of your utility bills by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
- Don't stop with lowering those utility bills. Make a plan to lower your debt as well with our the TDS ebook How to Conquer Your Debt No Matter How Much You Have.
- Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.