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Do Tankless Water Heaters Use a Lot of Propane?

Comparing Usage with Other Propane Appliances

gas water heaters georgia

Have you been thinking about upgrading your old storage tank water heater to a durable, highly efficient propane tankless water heater?

One question that always comes up is: how much propane does a propane tankless water heater use? The short answer to that question is that a propane tankless water heater producing 40,000 BTU/hour will consume about 1.5 gallons of propane per day.

But let’s dig a lot deeper to gain a better understanding of propane tankless water heaters and, along the way, see how tankless water heaters compare with other common propane appliances in terms of fuel consumption.

The Importance of BTUs

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a British thermal unit (Btu) is a measure of the heat content of fuels or energy sources. It’s measured by the quantity of heat that’s required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit–at the temperature in which water has its greatest density (approximately 39 degrees Fahrenheit).

Because BTU tells us how much heat energy is in a gallon of propane– one gallon of propane equals 91,452 Btus–we can make estimates about how much the average homeowner will use.

But keep in mind that the amount of propane your own appliances will use—including your propane tankless water heater– depends on factors ranging from the size and efficiency of each appliance to how well it was matched to your space, as well as the quality of the installation and the frequency of maintenance.

Making Sure Your Tankless Water Heater Meets Your Needs

To make sure a tankless water heater will be able to meet your household’s needs, your propane service contractor will need to calculate these factors:

FixtureAverage Flow Rate/
Gallons Per Minute (GPM)
Tub4.0
Shower2.5-3.0
Washing Machine2.0
Dishwasher1.5
Kitchen sink1.5

Learn more about flow rate here.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Propane Tankless Water Heater?

Prices range from about $170 for small gas-fired units to more than $2,000 for high-output heaters that can supply two showers at the same time; on average, the cost is about $1,000 per unit.

But keep in mind that propane gas-burning tankless water heaters should operate for 20 years or more. That’s two or three times longer than most storage tank water heaters as well as electric tankless water heaters.

If you experience an average energy savings of $150 per year, these savings should pay for your investment in a tankless water heater in about six or seven years. After that, you can pocket all of the savings on heating the water in your home.

How Much Propane Do My Other Gas Appliances Use?

With tankless water heaters on average using 1.5 gallons of propane per day, you may be wondering how your other propane appliances compare. The following estimates below should give you some idea of how much each propane appliance typically uses to do its job.

Please note that these appliance measurements are expressed as BTU per hour. This is a way to represent a measurement of deliverable power applicable to each propane gas appliance. (Think of it like the horsepower rating of a car). As an example, a typical furnace is about 100,000 BTU per hour. You can go here to read more about BTU per hour.

You can read more about propane tankless water heaters by going here. After that, reach out to your local propane service company for good advice.

Tips to Keep Your Family Safe

hurricane safety georgiaJune 1 marked the official beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts above-average hurricane activity this year. The outlook for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts until November 30, predicts a 65% chance of an above-normal season, a 25% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance of a below-normal season. An average season is classified as three major hurricanes.

According to NOAA, there is a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms; these are storms with winds of 39 mph or higher. Out of these projected storms, as many as 10 could become hurricanes—classified as winds of 74 mph or higher. What we have to worry about the most, however, is that there is a chance of 3-6 major hurricanes. These fall into the category of either 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher.

Please go here to read more about the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook from NOAA.

What to Do If a Storm Is on the Way

Do the following if severe weather is forecast.

After the Storm, Take These Steps

Other Reminders for Staying Safe

Please keep in mind that propane is one of the safest fuels you can choose for your Georgia home. But to stay as safe as possible, you should always pay close attention to the operation of your gas appliances. The best way to keep all your propane gas equipment running properly is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for preventive maintenance. Be sure to consult your owner’s manuals for what’s required and then get in touch with a propane professional if you require appliance service or have any questions.

Understanding Your Options and What to Consider

tankless water heaters georgiaIf you’re worried that your aging water heater storage tank is wearing out, it makes sense to start understanding your replacement options now. You may have heard about new high-efficiency propane tankless water heaters, but you may wonder if these types of units are a good fit—and an affordable option—for your home and lifestyle.

While it’s true that a tankless propane water heater has a higher upfront cost than a traditional storage-tank water heater, the trade-off is that you can save a lot of money on your water heating bills over the long run.

Prices range from about $170 for small gas-fired units to more than $2,000 for high-output heaters that can supply two showers at the same time; on average, the cost is about $1,000 per unit.

But keep in mind that propane gas-burning tankless water heaters should operate for 20 years or more. That’s two or three times longer than most storage tank water heaters as well as electric tankless water heaters.

Of course, there are many different types of tankless water heaters to choose from, and each option has different features and benefits that can impact price.

The cost of a tankless water heater is also determined by the size of the system. In this case, size refers to the volume of hot water the unit can produce.

The best way to compare system sizes between on-demand water heaters is by looking at their gallon per minute rating, or GPM.

In general, the higher the GPM, the higher your equipment costs will be. The GPM you require for your home will depend on how many appliances you will want to run at a given time. For example, if you have one bathroom in your house, it is recommended that your tankless water heater produces 6-7 GPM. For two bathrooms, 8-9 GPM, and for 3 or more bathrooms, 9-11 GPM. Read more about this here.

How Much Can You Save with a Tankless Water Heater?

According to the Propane Education and Research Council, given Energy Factors as high as 0.99, propane tankless systems operate very efficiently and therefore have relatively low fuel consumption and costs. As one example, propane condensing tankless systems save roughly $150-$200 per year, compared with typical electric storage water heaters or heating oil systems. Learn more by reviewing the Tankless Water Heater Fact Sheet.

Say you experience an average energy savings of $150 per year. These savings should pay for your investment in a tankless water heater in about six or seven years. After that, you can pocket all of the savings on heating the water in your home.

Now, consider a tankless hot water heater: when you turn on your hot water faucets or an appliance, water is circulated through a heat exchanger and delivered on-demand. Your energy efficiency will improve up to 40% and you’ll have access to unlimited amounts of hot water – because you won’t have to worry about the water storage tank draining and having to refill and reheat.

Tankless Water Heater Maintenance

It’s recommended that you get annual maintenance done on your tankless water heater. One of the most important tasks is getting your tankless unit flushed to remove mineral deposits that have collected during the year. Left unchecked, a build-up of minerals can damage the heat exchanger in the unit, shortening its life span.

Your tankless water heater also contains both an air filter and water filter that should be checked and cleaned regularly.

Read more about recommended tankless water heater maintenance here.

Many Tankless Water Heater Benefits*

Source: https://propane.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Tankless-Water-Heater-Fact-Sheet.pdf

Tankless water heaters take up such a small space that you will actually be able to reclaim all that square footage your old electric or propane water heater was taking up. Most tankless units hang on a wall and are about the size of a small suitcase. They will last about twice as long as a standard storage tank water heater.

To understand propane tankless water heater more, please go to this comprehensive guide to propane tankless water heaters.

Usage Varies Depending on the Size of the Generator

generator installation georgiaIncreasingly, power outages have become all too common for folks in most parts of the country, including Georgia. While power outages typically happen throughout the year, it’s particularly commonplace in the summer, when damaging electrical storms can strike at any time, often during peak demands for electricity.

Fortunately, there’s a solution available to you that keeps the power coming: a whole-house propane gas generator, available in varying sizes to power as much or as little as you need to keep your family and home safe and comfortable.

Once considered a luxury, whole-house generators are the only way to ensure your sump pump, home security systems, heating and cooling equipment and any needed medical devices will continue to run in the event of a prolonged electrical power stoppage. (A smaller, portable generator is much more limited in capacity).

The question is, how do you pick the right generator unit for your Georgia home? People also wonder, “how much propane will my generator use?” Here are some factors to consider.

Generator Size and Capacity

The size of the generator you will need depends on two factors: the size of your home and what appliances you want to power during an outage. A good way to think about the “electric load” in your home is to break your usage down into two categories:

  1. Essentials: medical equipment, lights, refrigerator, sump pump, furnace fan, security system, TV/computers.
  2. High-wattage items: air conditioning, heating, clothes dryer, water heater, oven/stove.

Generators come in a range of sizes and prices; a small, easy-to-place 8-kilowatt (kW) unit, for example, can operate power essentials such as lights, refrigerator, TV, and other small appliances. A large 25 kW commercial-grade generator, on the other hand, can easily run an HVAC system in addition to those smaller items.

Propane Usage

According to Generac, a leading manufacturer of generators, a 22-kW generator would burn approximately two gallons per hour (gph) at a 50% electrical load and 3.6 gph at full load. A larger 38- kW unit would burn three gallons of propane per hour at half-load and 5.4 gph at full load.

A licensed electrician can help you with all of these load calculations to ensure you choose a generator that can handle the desired emergency electrical power needs of your household.

Other key points to understand when researching generator fuel usage, in addition to a particular generator’s fuel consumption rate, are the characteristics of the fuel that powers that engine.

Propane offers advantages that other fuel sources can’t match. Propane doesn’t degrade over time, unlike diesel or gasoline. This makes propane the ideal stand-by power fuel.
[h3] How Does a Propane Generator Work?

A whole-house propane generator is a permanent fixture connected to your home’s electrical system with its own fuel source. Basically, it looks like a central air conditioning unit with a cap on it.

The generator is designed to start automatically when you lose power from your utility –usually between 10-30 seconds after an outage. When utility power is restored, the generator will shut itself down. All of this happens whether or not you’re at home.

Benefits of a Whole House Propane Generator

The biggest benefit to a whole house generator, of course, is that you’ll never be without power again! Being able to switch between the grid and generator power is a huge advantage.

Imagine never having to suffer through the inconveniences of a power outage again – no more unexpected nights at a hotel or friend’s house, no more spoiled food, no more loss of TV, phone or computer service, no sweaty nights without your air conditioner or cold nights without heat, and no more pipes bursting due to lack of heat in the house, to name a few.

To learn more about propane gas generators, please reach out to your Georgia propane company and they’ll be glad to give you expert advice. If they don’t install propane generators, they’ll most likely be able to refer you to a trusted contractor who does.

Understanding the Propane Gas Markets and Price Fluctuations

fuel industry georgiaWhile dealing with higher propane prices can be frustrating and downright painful at times, try to take comfort in the fact that propane remains one of the most cost-efficient ways to heat your home and fuel your appliances. Propane does all this while reducing carbon emissions at the same time.

Plus, historical trends have shown us that, when it comes to prices, what goes up must come down. It’s just a matter of when. For all local propane companies and the industry in general, the feeling is, the sooner the better.

Propane Price Swings Are More Moderate than Oil

You may have noticed price swing trends with propane tend to be more moderate compared to heating oil, gasoline, and other fuels derived from a barrel of crude oil.

This is because propane is a completely domestic form of energy.  The U.S. actually exports about twice as much propane to the rest of the world than we use in our own country. 

Even though propane is still priced in the world market like oil is, this abundance of domestic North American supply gives us supply security and helps moderate the pricing in the U.S. 

In contrast, crude oil–while we produce a lot of it here–is still an imported product as well, and we still get it from some countries that really don’t like us very much. 

Supply and Demand

The combination of high demand and lower-than-average inventory is always a common driver for higher propane prices. While you may just think of propane demand for home heating and appliance use, it goes well beyond that.

As an example, global demand for propane has risen because of its increased use as a petrochemical feedstock, the vast majority of which are derived from crude oil and natural gas. These petrochemicals serve as the basis of many end products, including plastic, paper, adhesives, and detergents. Petrochemical manufacturers are the largest consumers of propane.

Global demand for U.S. propane has remained steady despite higher U.S. prices because international prices for propane and other feedstocks have also increased, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Here are a few more of the multiple factors that can affect the price you ultimately pay for your propane.

Global Conflicts and Natural Disasters

When war, political strife, conflict, or natural disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes, or hurricanes occur in other regions of the world, this can impact crude oil and natural gas prices. Since propane is a by-product of both crude oil and natural gas, rising prices for these fuels have a ripple effect on propane.

Before the start of the war in Ukraine in late February, energy prices had been rising in anticipation of the potential sanctions that could be levied on the Russian energy sector if the country went ahead and invaded Ukraine.

Russia carries clout because it is the third-largest petroleum and liquid fuels producer in the world, behind only the United States and Saudi Arabia. It’s a major exporter of both crude oil and natural gas.

Even the hint of a possible disruption in energy supply will heavily influence the buying and selling done by commodities traders. In the frenzied world of investment, this is known as the fear factor.

When Russia eventually invaded and the U.S. placed a ban on Russian imported oil and petroleum products–with other countries expected to follow–that meant there would be a big energy void to fill. Those who make their living in the oil markets don’t like that uncertainty. This includes the speculators who are betting on price moves as well as the hedgers, who are limiting risk for their clients who are involved with either the production or consumption of oil.

Propane Exports

Many people don’t realize that the U.S. is a large exporter of propane, and that export business continues to grow. This is good business for the large wholesale propane suppliers, but it increases demand even further in an industry that traditionally doesn’t store huge quantities of propane at once. Many propane suppliers are obligated to provide the quantity of propane they’ve committed to export, leaving even less propane inventory for domestic consumption.

Weather Extremes

If a reduction in supply occurs during a time of high demand, such as the colder months, a scarcer market develops. When a cold snap is especially extreme or lasts longer than usual, this scarcity gets further compounded. People may start to panic buy, similar to what we saw at the start of the pandemic with the toilet paper shortage.

And it’s not just cold temperatures that can increase propane demand. Heavy rains during the agricultural growing season create bumper crops that need to be dried rapidly, in great volume. Propane is among the fuels used for crop drying. Propane consumption in corn-producing states typically rises in September and October with the corn harvest, followed by a larger rise related to space-heating needs in January.

Other Factors That Influence Price

Long-time factors that have always influenced where prices go include proximity of supply, transportation bottlenecks, energy policy, and manufacturing trends. More recently, these issues have also come into play:

What Comes Next?

We don’t know where things will go from here, but if history is a guide, we can expect to see prices drop pretty significantly in the not-too-distant future. And nothing will make your local propane company happier than when prices return to normal.

Until then, trust your propane supplier to look out for you, and let’s hope that—regardless of what happens with energy prices—we will soon be living in a more peaceful world.

Here Are 10 Facts to Consider

facts about propane georgiaElectrification advocates claim that electricity is the only clean and widespread energy solution readily available today. That is far from the truth. Just consider these 10 facts.

  1. Electricity might not release greenhouse gas emissions in your home, but many of the power plants producing it do. Today, more than 60% of electricity comes from burning coal and natural gas, and electricity production releases the second-largest share of emissions.
  2. Propane is one of the cleanest energy sources, producing 43% fewer emissions than the equivalent amount of grid-generated electricity.
  3. Electric-heated homes are notoriously inefficient. It requires 27 kilowatt-hours of electricity to produce the same amount of energy as a single gallon of propane.
  4. Full electrification will badly overburden the power grid, increasing the risk of prolonged blackouts.
  5. Converting a home to electricity is extremely expensive, a burden on Georgia homeowners.
  6. Propane gas, like natural gas, is clean-burning and highly efficient. Modern propane gas furnaces are 90% efficient, meaning very little heating energy is lost up the chimney and into the atmosphere. This also means your home burns less fuel to stay warm.
  7. The minimal number of emissions released by a propane-heated house are cleaner than most alternatives. Propane contains virtually no particulate matter–a known carcinogen–and releases significantly less carbon dioxide (CO2) than other energy sources.
  8. Homes with propane-fueled furnaces emit up to 50% less nitrogen oxide and 82% less sulfur oxide than technologies fueled by electricity. These emissions contribute to acid rain and cause respiratory ailments.
  9. Propane is more efficient than electricity when evaluating the total energy consumed (this includes the energy consumed in the extraction, production, processing and transportation of the fuel to the point of use). Based on this analysis, propane is 87% efficient; electricity is 32% efficient.
  10. It takes three units of source energy to get one unit of electricity into your home. That means more coal has to be burned, generating even more carbon emissions, to get electricity to our homes.

The Future: Renewable Propane

Renewable propane represents the next step towards a zero-carbon emissions future.

Renewable propane is molecularly identical to propane. But it is made with renewable, carbon-neutral resources such as animal oils, plant oils, biomass, and other triglycerides.

As the renewable propane sector grows, more and more Georgians will be able to use it to lower their carbon footprint even further.

Space Heater Safety Tips

propane heaters georgiaAccording to the National Fire Protection Association, more home fires occur during the winter than any other season of the year. Heating is the second-leading cause of home fires, deaths, and injuries, and space heaters greatly contribute to this number. More than 80% of home heating fire fatalities involved stationary or portable space heaters.

As an example, a faulty electric space heater was determined to be the cause of a recent deadly apartment fire in New York.

If you need to use space heaters to add extra warmth to your home, we recommend choosing propane gas space heaters. They’ll heat faster than electric ones and in general, cost less to operate.

You also have a lot of choices when it comes to propane indoor heaters for your Georgia home. There are portable indoor propane heaters, wall-mounted propane indoor heaters, forced air propane indoor heaters, and radiant indoor propane heaters.

Indoor Propane Space Heater Safety Tips

The main point to remember is that when used properly, indoor propane heaters are very safe. Here’s a quick review to help to make sure you are using your propane indoor heaters safely:

You can learn more propane safety tips by going here.

Running Out of Propane Can Be Costly

propane runouts georgiaHave you ever asked yourself, what happens if I run out of propane? If you answered yes, it most likely means you have never experienced all the hassles involved in letting your propane tank run dry.

That’s good news. Because when your tank gets empty, you simply can’t just have it filled with propane and go on your merry way. Running out of propane isn’t a “little thing” – it’s a serious and costly mistake that can cause all kinds of problems– and potential dangers – for you in your propane-powered home.

For starters, you will have to arrange for an emergency propane delivery, which costs more, compared to regular delivery.

Your propane company also has to do a system leak test whenever a tank runs out of propane. Safety codes require your propane supplier to perform this gas leak test before refilling your tank and relighting your appliances. Here’s why.

When there is propane in your tank, there is constant pressure in the system; when the amount of fuel goes down, so does the pressure. Loss of pressure can cause leaks because of the expansion and retraction of the piping compound in the propane system. Whenever there is an interruption in service—such as running out of propane—a pressure test will reveal any leaks in the piping, which we will then be corrected. Be aware that your propane company needs to charge you for this important service. Here are other problems a propane run-out may cause.

How To Avoid Running Out of Propane

Many of Georgia’s propane companies offer a solution with automatic delivery service. They track your propane usage and schedule a delivery to your home before you run low.

If your local propane company doesn’t offer automatic delivery, or if you prefer the control of will-call, you need to be vigilant about monitoring your propane tank gauge levels and request a delivery when your tank is between 25% and 30% full.

While your propane dealer may be able to make a delivery within a day in cases of extreme emergency, it is always best to provide a few days’ notice. This advance notice is necessary for scheduling your home into a delivery route.

Check with your local propane dealer to find out what services and options they offer. Explore more options for propane service.

Propane BTU-Per-Gallon More Powerful than Electricity

btu use of propane georgiaThere has been a push in recent years to make electricity the energy of choice for Georgia homes–based on the dubious claim that it is the right choice for reducing our carbon footprint.

Fact Check: When you use propane, you’re relying on a fuel that produces 43% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than using an equivalent amount of electricity generated from the grid.

Just as important in the propane vs. electricity debate is the topic of energy efficiency, which has a big effect on the environment as well. Because the less energy you use, the greener you are.

Propane generates more Btu than an equivalent amount of electricity, so you need much less propane to produce the same amount of heat energy. That’s another reason why propane is better for the environment.

To appreciate propane’s big advantage over electricity in energy efficiency, we have to consider BTU content.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a British thermal unit (Btu) is a measure of the heat content of fuels or energy sources. It’s measured by the quantity of heat that’s required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit–at the temperature in which water has its greatest density (approximately 39 degrees Fahrenheit).

What Propane BTU-Per-Gallon Tells Us

BTUs can be used to compare energy sources on an equal basis. To compare propane to electricity, we need to know that:

To make these two energy sources “equal,” divide 91,452 Btus by 3,412 Btu. Your answer will be:

Propane101.com makes this comparison to illustrate the efficiency of propane compared to electricity. A 100-watt light bulb left on for a full day–24 hours–will consume 2.4 kWh. If propane could be used to power the same light bulb. it would only use 9/100th of a gallon of propane.

BTUs and Your Propane Usage

Thanks to BTU telling us how much heat energy is in a gallon of propane, we can make estimates about how much the average homeowner will use.

But keep in mind that the amount of propane your own appliances will use depends on factors ranging from the size and efficiency of each appliance to how well it was matched to your space, as well as the quality of the installation and the frequency of maintenance.

But the following estimates below should give you some idea of how much each propane appliance typically uses to do its job. Please note that these appliance measurements are expressed as BTU per hour. This is a way to represent a measurement of deliverable power applicable to each propane gas appliance. (Think of it like the horsepower rating of a car). As an example, a typical furnace is about 100,000 BTU per hour. You can go here to read more about BTU per hour.

How Much Propane Will I Use?

Propane Usage by the Numbers

Read about the benefits of propane.

Higher Energy Prices Are Hurting Us All

propane prices georgiaOnce again, we’re seeing propane and other energy prices surge across the board. Your local propane company knows how painful that can be for their customers. But it’s painful for your propane supplier as well.

What’s Going On?

Propane prices have been increasing since summer because of high international demand and lower global propane supply. In the U.S., propane inventories were projected to be at their lowest level to start the heating season since 2013, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration. Recently, wholesale propane prices hit their highest weekly average levels since February 2014. But that’s only part of the story.

Gasoline has risen more than a dollar more per gallon vs. a year ago. Natural gas prices have skyrocketed more than 150%. Crude oil prices have climbed above $80 per barrel, a level we haven’t seen in seven years.

The cost of electricity has not been spared either. Higher natural gas prices result in price hikes for wholesale electricity because of heavy reliance on natural gas-fired power plants.

Besides rising energy prices, we’re also seeing price increases in many other products. A big problem has been the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused enormous supply-chain challenges. This is limiting supply even as the demand for goods keeps rising.

What Georgia Propane Companies Are Doing

People sometimes misunderstand how negatively all this impacts local fuel dealers. They don’t make more money when prices rise like this—they make less.

Think of it this way: it’s like when the cost of coffee, milk or orange juice rises. It’s not the local grocery store that is profiting. (That’s left to the Wall Street investors). Propane customers have a harder time paying their bills. They reduce expenditures. Propane suppliers may need to tap into their lines of credit more. Phones light up with questions from propane customers. So the sooner energy prices drop, the happier your propane company will be.

In the meantime, please reach out your propane supplier about ways they may be able to help you reduce your energy costs, or handle payments more easily. And if you are worried about keeping up with your propane costs, please pick up the phone and call them. They can generally work with you if you reach out before you fall behind.

Rest assured, your propane supplier will do everything possible to ensure they can deliver——no matter the cost or difficulty they face.

Your propane company appreciates your understanding during this difficult time.