If the time has finally come to replace your older furnace, you may be overwhelmed by the replacement options at your disposal. For homes that are already equipped for a "liquid fuel" heater (like propane or natural gas), sticking with this type of setup can avoid retrofitting costs, but choosing between the two can be tough if you don't know much about the advantages and disadvantages of each choice. Read on to learn more about some of the major differences between propane and natural gas to help guide your decision.
Advantages of Propane Fuel
Propane is incredibly efficient and has about twice the heating power (per cubic foot of volume) than natural gas. Because of this efficiency, a single tank of propane fuel can often last all winter. Propane is also clean-burning, which means less wear and tear on your furnace and surrounding components.
Disadvantages of Propane Fuel
As a clean-burning, inexpensive, and readily available fuel, propane has few disadvantages. However, in the event of a propane leakage, this gas takes longer to dissipate into the air than natural gas and can be flammable. Most propane is treated with an added scent so that leaks can be readily detected.
Advantages of Natural Gas
Like propane, natural gas is a clean-burning fuel that is common enough to not be subject to major price swings. Although natural gas isn't quite as efficient as propane, it can be ideal for warmer climates where heat is only necessary a few months of the year. And because natural gas is less flammable than propane and dissipates quickly, it's fairly low-risk to homeowners even if a leak occurs.
Disadvantages of Natural Gas
Natural gas is less efficient than propane, and if your tank isn't quite enough to get you through a winter, you may find yourself paying premium mid-winter prices to refill the tank.
Making Your Choice
There is no single "best" option when it comes to propane versus natural gas. These heating options have far more similarities than differences, and when combined with a brand-new furnace, either choice is likely to save you money over an older, inefficient heater. But if you're in a colder climate that requires heating fuel for nearly half the year, you may want to go with propane to limit your consumption and reduce the odds your tank will run dry mid-winter. Natural gas is less efficient, which means a tank won't last you nearly as long.