Propane is a liquefied petroleum gas (or LP gas). LPGs are the byproduct of crude oil production and natural gas extraction. This fuel is particularly versatile and in the United States; most people use it for cooking, heating, water heating, refrigeration, clothes drying, pool heating and outdoor grilling.
This section will help you understand what propane is, why it is a convenient fuel for your home, how it is priced, whether it is safe, and how it compares with other sources of energy – all this to help you find the best propane deal.
Advantages of propane
There are over 14 million residential propane users in the United States and hundreds of propane companies. People find propane convenient because it is delivered in bulk stored directly on your property in a large propane tank. This gives you some control over your energy supply since you order propane when you need it and is particularly interesting if you are not connected to the natural gas pipelines network.
Residential propane is measured in gallons so you should compare the prices per gallon that propane companies offer by requesting quotes from dealers in your area. The price you are given in quotes will depend on how much propane you are likely to use, what sort of climate your home is in and how close you are to a major supply source (e.g., Midwest). Average propane prices over the heating season tend to be around $2.40 per gallon.
US average propane price trends over the 2012-2013 heating season
Source: US EIA
LP gas is a safe gas if handled properly but remains a highly flammable gas. This is why various federal, state and local regulations exist to frame the use and handling of propane gas. Most propane companies train their employees adequately to respect compliance rules but it is important to check what safety efforts each company makes. Safety should be your first concern to avoid explosions or carbon monoxide intoxication.
Propane is not harmful to the natural or human environment. Breathing propane gas will not make you sick since it is nontoxic. However, propane is cold and freezes at -44°F so coming into contact with liquid propane can be very painful. And although it can freeze plans, propane does not harm the natural habitat: it does not pollute the soil or harm plants. Also, it is considered a clean gas by federal authorities in terms of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.