Rising Fuel Prices Highlight Importance of Efficiency

Propane Industry Provides Efficiency Tips to Help Curb Energy Costs


January 28, 2000

As temperatures drop across the United States, the cost of heating a home is rising. A combination of energy-related factors in the U.S. and abroad has increased prices, not only for propane gas but also for heating oil, gasoline, natural gas, and most other fuels. As a result, energy costs are predicted to be higher this year than in the last two years.

In the seasonal propane gas market, world supply and demand of propane gas, along with U.S. supply and demand, ultimately determine pricing. A portion of propane is produced in the crude oil refinery process, so when major oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Venezuela recently cut back on their oil production, available supplies of propane decreased significantly. At the same time, an increased demand for petroleum products in Asia lowered exports to the U.S. from that continent, while the petrochemical industry-the largest consumer of propane in the U.S.-significantly increased its use of propane this winter. This decline in propane supply has led directly to the increased prices U.S. consumers are now paying to heat their homes.

In response to community concerns over the increase in heating costs, the Propane Education & Research Council (the Council) and the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) are providing important information to homeowners about the efficiency of their energy options. Although costs are predicted to increase for all fuels, the Council and NPGA are showing homeowners that not all fuels are equally efficient-and efficiency determines the bottom line of the energy bill.

'The cost of heating your home has increased this winter, so this is a good time to evaluate the efficiency and value of your fuel choice,' says Council President Roy Willis. 'For example, many people aren't aware that a propane-fueled water heater can heat twice the water in half the time at a third of the cost of electricity. This kind of savings brings an increased sense of economic security to homeowners and their families.'

Propane gas, a fuel used by more than 60 million Americans, not only helps fuel water heaters more efficiently, but can also save homeowners thousands of dollars in other home uses as energy costs continue to rise.

Cost Comparisons

According to 1999 U.S. Department of Energy statistics, it could cost up to twice as much to operate your range, water heater, dryer, or furnace with electricity than with propane gas.
Propane gas furnaces last an average of 20 years, while electric heat pumps last an average of 12 years. The cost of repairing propane gas furnaces is also lower than the cost of repairing electric heaters.
Propane gas water heaters cost approximately $10 less per month to operate than comparable electric units, yet heat more than twice as much water in an hour. Over an average life span, propane water heaters can save homeowners nearly $2,000 over an electric unit.
Most manufacturers agree that the annual energy cost of propane clothes dryers is 50 percent less than for electric models.
Propane gas fireplace systems cost between 30 and 60 percent less per hour of operation than wood-burning fireplaces.
To further educate homeowners on the importance of fuel efficiency, the Council has developed an additional resource titled "Energy Saving Tips For Your Home" that provides easy and practical suggestions homeowners can implement in their homes to further reduce the cost of their energy bills.

'This resource reminds homeowners they are not powerless over their heating bill,' says Willis. 'Homeowners can take control of their costs by implementing these simple tips, which could result in large savings on their energy bill.'

The Propane Education & Research Council was authorized by the U.S. Congress with the passage of the Public Law 104-284, the Propane Education and Research Act (PERA), signed into law on October 11, 1996. The mission of the Propane Education & Research Council is to promote the safe, efficient use of odorized propane gas as a preferred energy source. For more information about the Propane Council, please call 202-452-8975 or visit the website at www.propanecouncil.org.

NPGA is the national trade association for the U.S. propane gas industry. With a membership of more than 3,800 companies in all 50 states, 38 affiliated state or regional associations, and members in 28 foreign countries, NPGA represents every segment of the propane industry. Over 90 percent of the United States' propane supply is produced domestically, and 60 million Americans choose propane as their energy source.

Source: National Propane Gas Association/Propane Education & Research Council.