Propane usage

Like electricity, natural gas, heating oil or diesel, propane is a source of energy for millions of Americans. It is popular because it is more efficient than natural gas; and it is both more efficient and cheaper on average than heating oil or electricity. With a propane tank, all you need to heat your home or make your clothes dryer work is road access and enough space for the tank, which is installed on your property directly.

Usage distribution

In the United States, 47 million people use propane for grills and 14.3 million households run on propane (about 4.5% of the population). The Midwest region has the highest residential propane consumption (8% of all households); Michigan is the state with the most residential propane users (6.6% of all homes). But propane is also widely used by other sectors, as you can see in the table below.


14.3 million users


1 million users


240,000 users


456,000 users


81,000 users


660,000 users

Standby Generator

110,000 users

Residential Heating

6.8 million users

Grill users

47 million users

Usage and appliances

Many appliances run on propane. That is also why it is so popular. The most common propane appliance is an outdoor grill but households can function almost exclusively on propane: from clothes dryers to space heating, you can see the various appliances that can run on propane in the following diagram.

Illustration of what propane is commonly used for in homes

Propane is used 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).

Measuring propane usage

Propane output is measured in British Thermal Units. Each gallon of propane delivers 91,547 BTU. And propane appliances all have BTU ratings, meaning that you can work out how many gallons of propane each appliance uses per hour. For example, an air conditioner might have a 12,000 BTU rating. Therefore, it uses 0.13 gallons of propane per hour if used at maximum power all the time.

Besides what appliances in the household run on propane, usage depends on climate (higher usage for colder climates), how new the home is (less propane for newer houses) and how many occupants it has (usage rises with number of occupants). On average, a US household consumes 464 gallons of propane every year. Here is an illustration of how much a 2,200 square-foot house would use.



2,200 sq foot home: low average


2,200 sq foot home: high average


2,200 sq foot home: cooking


2,200 sq foot home: drying (low)


2,200 sq foot home: drying (high)


2,200 sq foot home: water heating (low)


2,200 sq foot home: water heating (high)



Propane usage and costs

Since propane companies sell propane per gallon, propane usage is the most influential factor in calculating your propane bill. However, the price per gallon that a company offers does not depend exclusively on usage. Since propane is a byproduct of crude oil production, its price follows the crude oil market price. The more households need propane in the short term (for example, in winter), the higher the chance of the propane price rising. Finally, the closer the home is to a major supply source, the cheaper the propane will be.