Calculate your propane usage

While many factors influence propane consumption (climate, humidity, appliances, space, etc.) it is useful to know that on average, American households use 464 gallons of propane every year. In December 2011, average propane prices were $2.856/gal (according to the US Energy Information Agency). This amounts to $1,325/year per unit.

Measuring propane usage

Propane is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs. Propane appliances use a certain amount of BTU per hour. And one gallon of propane has 91,574 BTUs. This gives you a vague idea of how much energy your propane appliances are likely to consume: their performance is measured in BTUs, whereas you buy propane at a certain price per gallon.

Estimating your propane usage or consumption is very different from figuring out how much you will pay your propane dealer per gallon. Propane costs depend on crude oil price, supply and demand and propane transportation costs for the supplier (depending on how far your home is from major supply sources on the Gulf Coast or in the Midwest).

Factors affecting propane usage

On the one hand, propane usage depends on what appliances you use propane for. People use propane for cooking, water heating, refrigeration, indoor heating, clothes drying and even as an alternative fuel for cars. For example, if you only use propane for an outdoor grill, your usage will be significantly lower than if you use propane for indoor heating. The first step in calculating your propane usage is knowing what you need propane for.

Illustration of what propane is commonly used for in homes.

Propane use for outdoor lighting (1), clothes drying (2), water heating (3), indoor heating (4), fireplaces (5), outdoor grilling (6), spas (7), pool heating (8), cooking (9), refrigeration (10) and even cars (11).

Propane usage depends on a variety of other factors. A household in the Midwest (in Michigan, for example) uses more propane than a household in the South (in Texas, for example). Rural homes use more propane than urban homes. Climate (cold/warm, dry/humid, marine) changes how much propane you are likely to use. The newer your home is, the less propane you will use. And a house with five people in it will consume more propane than a flat with one occupant.

Propane usage figures

It is difficult to know exactly how much propane you will probably use. Your best bet is to contact a propane company and get a quote. However, if you want a rough idea of what propane consumption might be in your home, you can use the table below, which lists average yearly residential propane consumption using different indicators, including square footage, region and number of household members.

Factor

Gallons/year

Total US

464

Region

Northeast

416

Midwest

732

South

331

West

443

 

Total Square Footage

Fewer than 500

176

500 to 999

312

1,000 to 1,499

318

1,500 to 1,999

476

2,000 to 2,499

482

2,500 to 2,999

495

3,000 to 3,499

528

3,500 to 3,999

517

4,000 or More

715

Number of Household Members

1 Person

388

2 Persons

499

3 Persons

427

4 Persons

492

5 Persons

537

6 or More Persons

514

Source: US Energy Information Agency, 2009