How Much Propane Does A Furnace Use?

An image of a household propane furnace.

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Did you know that heating your home can consume up to  29% of your utility bill? Yes, it’s possible that your propane furnace consumes more energy than most household systems combined.

This brings us to our question of the day:  how much propane does a furnace use? What affects the efficiency of propane heating systems? How many gallons of propane does a high-efficiency propane furnace consume per day? 

When choosing a power source for your home heating, it’s crucial to consider if its application is valid in regard to overall energy efficiency. 

Would you like to save money on your propane costs? If so, you’re in the right place! Click here to get 100% free, no obligation quotes from propane dealers in your area.

According to a National Propane Gas Association 2019 publication, up to 11.9 American households rely on Propane for heating water and general space warming. This means that quite a number of Americans depend on this energy source. 

But is it worth all the hype it generates, and are there any profound stats to back its application? We welcome you to find out for yourself from this detailed guide. Discover the propane consumption of a furnace and learn how much propane is typically required for efficient heating.

Factors To Consider When Determining a Propane Furnace Efficiency

Before discussing the amount of propane a furnace uses, let’s look at a few factors that might affect your propane furnace’s efficiency. 

Type & Model Of The Propane Furnace

Usually, household propane furnaces range from 100,000 BTU to 200,000, depending on the Energy Star efficiency rating. Therefore, before purchasing a propane furnace, you should reference its model and Energy Star efficiency rating. 

Below is a general guideline from the US Department of Energy for common Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) for all furnaces:

  • High-efficiency:  AFUE ratings between 90% to 98.5%. This rating is common for propane heating systems less than ten years old.
  • Medium efficiency: AFUE ratings between 80% to 85%. It’s usually common with propane furnaces 10 to 20 years old.
  • Low efficiency: AFUE ratings between 56% to 70%. It usually applies to old and outdated furnaces.

Usually, new high-efficiency propane furnaces have ratings between 90% to 98%. However, depending on the furnace’s model, the exact rating can be higher or lower.

Age Of The Furnace

The average lifespan of most propane furnaces is between 10 to 20 years, depending on the model. The order your furnace becomes, the more electricity it will likely consume; therefore, its efficiency wanes with time.

For instance, as outlined above, a propane furnace above 20 years has a 56% to 70% efficiency, and a new one below ten years old is 90% to 97%.

Cleanliness Of The Air Filter

A dirty air filter can reduce your propane furnace’s efficiency. Some homeowners do not clean or replace furnace filters for months or even years.

This can lead to the accumulation of dirt and other airborne particles in your filters, making it challenging for the furnace to push air through. Your furnace will work harder and use more energy to compensate for the airflow blockage, leading to higher propane consumption.

Condition Of The Furnace’s Ductwork

Leaking ductwork is another common reason for inefficient propane heating systems. If the furnace’s ducts have leaks, poor connections, or gaps, it will struggle to pump air throughout your house.

Even if the furnace works overtime using more energy, you might not have enough fumes to heat all your rooms. As a result, you’ll likely have some rooms colder than the rest, leading to discomfort.

Thermostat Settings

According to the Department of Energy, the ideal thermostat setting for cold seasons is between 68°F and 70°F when awake and slightly lower as you sleep. Extremely high thermostat settings can overburden your furnace.

The higher the thermostat setting, the more your furnace will have to work to stabilize your home’s temperature, leading to higher propane consumption. Extreme thermostat settings can also reduce your furnace’s lifespan.

Maintenance Frequency

How often do you clean and repair your furnace? Do you just check it when it runs down empty?

Regularly maintaining your furnace can significantly lower its propane consumption. It ensures the furnace works smoothly and produces enough fumes to heat your rooms with less energy.

And the opposite is true — irregular or prolonged maintenance schedules can lead to dust and dirt buildup on the furnace, making it less efficient.

We recommend cleaning your furnace at least once annually. However, you don’t have to wait for a year to end if you’re experiencing the following issues:

  • Strange odors from the furnace
  • The furnace turns on and off too fast
  • Unexplained increments in energy costs
  • Some rooms are colder than others
  • The furnace doesn’t heat your home enough to meet your thermostat settings
  • You have no heat at all

Insulation Levels

A properly insulated home maintains the heat from the furnace within your home, leading to stable temperatures. Comparatively, poor insulation allows the heat to escape, leading to fewer fumes heating your rooms.

As a result, your furnace must use more propane to generate more heat after short durations.

How Many Gallons Of Propane Does A Furnace Use Per Day?

Now that we’ve understood the factors affecting the efficiency of propane heating systems let’s now tackle the elephant in the room — how much propane does a furnace use daily?

On average, furnaces consume 1 – 2 gallons of propane per hour. Assuming you’re using a constant thermostat setting and keeping your furnace running for 30 – 45 minutes per hour, you might spend 24 – 36 gallons daily.

How To Calculate Your Propane Usage

Usually, unless under special circumstances, your propane furnace won’t operate at 100% capacity throughout the day. 

Hence, to derive your hourly propane usage, divide the furnace’s BTU/hour ratings by the standard BTU per gallon of propane (91,500) and then multiply the answer by the furnace’s operating capacity.

Example

Suppose a furnace with a BTU/hour rating of 110,000 operates at 50% of its total capacity. Its hourly propane usage is (110,000 ÷ 91,500) ×0.50 = 0.6 gallons per hour.

One furnace can consume different amounts of propane depending on weather conditions, thermostat settings, and the number of appliances using natural gas or electricity in your household. However, sudden increments in energy bills might mean an inefficient furnace.

How Much Propane Does A Furnace Use In Winter?

Usually, propane furnaces for single-family homes use 500 lb to 1,200 gallons of propane per year. This usage is not evenly distributed throughout the year. 

During cold seasons, furnaces go through longer cycle periods. And reasonably so — they need to work extra time to stabilize your home’s temperature. As a result, they’ll likely consume more propane in winter than in warmer seasons.

So, how much propane does a furnace use in winter? While there’s no standard response to this question, you should budget between 80 to 100 gallons monthly during the cold season.

Propane Usage Based On Household Square Foot

The larger your home is, the more energy you’ll need to heat all the rooms. And vice versa. Below is a run-down of estimated propane usage based on household square foot:

  • 1,000 square feet will use an average of 440 gallons annually.
  • 1,500 square feet will use an average of 670 gallons each year.
  • 2,000 square feet will consume up to 900 gallons on an annual basis.
  • With 3,000 square feet or more, you can expect to use 1300+ gallons or more per year.

Tips For Optimizing Your Furnace’s Propane Consumption

Is your energy bill too high? Are you looking for ways to lower your propane consumption? Below are a few tips:

Clean The Furnace

As outlined above, clogged furnace ducts and filters are among the leading causes of inefficiency. Naturally, dirt and dust will build up in your furnace after some time, blocking the transfer of warm air to all the rooms in your home. 

As a result, your furnace must work harder and run longer cycles to compensate for the blockage. You can avoid this by regularly cleaning your ducts and filters. We recommend cleaning the furnace annually or biannually, depending on how fast it accumulates dust.

Replace The Furnace After 10 – 20 Years

Before buying a house, ask how long the owner has used its current furnace. Like all home appliances, just like propane tanks furnaces wear and tear, becoming less efficient with time, leading to higher propane consumption. 

Sometimes, you can save more money by replacing your furnace than by constantly repairing it. For instance, as outlined above, a new furnace can be 90% to 98% efficient, while a 20+ years old one can barely operate at 70% of its capacity. 

The latter will use more propane in the long run.

Optimize Your Thermostat Settings

When winter comes, everybody wants to stay warm. However, this doesn’t mean you should raise your thermostat settings beyond standard levels. Doing so will force your furnace to work harder to match up, leading to high propane consumption. 

A setting between 68°F and 70°F is always perfect for cold weather conditions. Anything above that might overburden your furnace.

Proper Insulation

As the furnace does its best to warm your rooms, you should also do your best to keep the heat within your home. Otherwise, the heat will escape if your house has poor ventilation, forcing the furnace to run longer, more frequent cycles.

Winterize your windows using plastic films to make them airtight. If your budget allows, you can install storm windows. You can also block the leak by installing door sweeps, closing rooms you don’t frequently use, and keeping the fireplace damper.

Does Your Furnace Use Over 1,000 Gallons Of Propane Per Year?

So, in a nutshell, how much propane does a furnace use per year?

A properly functioning furnace should use 500 to 1,200 gallons of propane annually. If your furnace uses more than this, perhaps it’s time to clean, repair, or replace it.

Summary

One of the age-old issues is inefficiencies in the energy consumption of most operations, among them being a propane heating system. 

As we wind up, let’s remind you that there’s no absolute holy grail with a heating system. Its overall efficiency will depend on various factors, including your regular maintenance practices. 

Also, it is counterproductive to own a propane furnace for ages as its cost-effectiveness wanes each new day. So the hard but realistic thing to do is to cast it away for a better and more efficient system that will serve you extensively without significant breakdown threats.

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Ryan McCabe

Ryan McCabe

Ryan is a home and small business energy expert, having overseen retail propane, heating oil, and HVAC services companies. On ComparePropane, Ryan writes about things that people should know when shopping for or using propane in their homes and businesses. 

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