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Choosing an Energy Efficient Propane Furnace

Updated on February 1, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

If it is time to upgrade from your old furnace to a new energy efficient propane furnace there are some important things you should know. Furnaces have changed quite a bit over the past few years. Propane furnaces can be a great choice for an energy efficient home. The new propane furnaces are about 92 -94 percent efficient. These reasonably priced furnaces cost quite a bit less to run than electric or wood. They cost about 50 percent less per BTU to run. They supply consistently warmer air than any other heat source. Propane is environmentally friendly. No fear of power outages.

Propane tanks are now built underground for better aesthetics for the homeowner.Image:Morguefile
Propane tanks are now built underground for better aesthetics for the homeowner.Image:Morguefile

The Types of Propane Furnaces

There are several types of propane furnaces to choose from, with three types that you will commonly see.

The most common types of propane heaters are:

  • Combination heaters
  • Central furnaces
  • Wall furnaces

When you are talking about energy efficiency the central furnace is the clear winner. It is very versatile and many of the new models have remote controls so that they can be operated from anywhere in your home. These furnaces have adaptable venting systems that can be easily adapted to vertical or horizontal venting. They can also be vented with PVC pipe. The compact units can be fit into small areas, making them invaluable for vintage homes that may not have been built with central heat in mind. The furnace is designed so that the burner is only on when you need heat. This conserves your propane use and saves you money.

Propane wall furnaces are often used in mobile homes that have little space for furnaces. They can also be used in homes when you might want to heat only one room at a time or in smaller homes when space is a premium.

The combination heaters are a recent development. They provide hot water as well as warm air. An air handler captures the warmth released by the hot water heater and uses it to warm the rest of the house. They use little space, often no more than a standard water heater would. Combination heaters are best for new home construction since retrofitting could be costly.

While the law requires that all gas furnaces have an efficiency rating of 78 percent, many of the new energy efficient propane furnaces have a rating of as much as 97 percent.

How to Buy an Energy Efficient Propane Furnace

When you are in the market for a new furnace consider the following before you decide on a particular type.

Particularly if you have not had propane before it is important that you check to make sure that propane is available in your area. Check on the cost of installing the new system, and the cost of propane locally. Are there any changes that you will need to make in building? Ultimately you may need some other heat source and that is important to know ahead of time!

Talk to Contractors - Get References

Next, talk to the contractors. Get references. More importantly, check references. You will want a contractor that is fully licensed for heat and air conditioning. Ask him to assess your needs and help you to choose the best system for you. He should be able to tell you the smallest size furnace that will heat your home and let you know about any updates in piping that needs to be done. Take notes on what he says. When you are furnace shopping refer to the notes often.

Keep It Simple

Try to buy a propane furnace that will be able to use the current pipes rather than requiring replacements. This will save you money in installation costs. When you shop you should also know the exact square footage of your home.

Check for Tax Breaks

There are numerous tax breaks, credits, and low interest loans available for people who are upgrading to a new energy efficient furnace. Check with you local energy company to see what is available. There are units that are eligible for more benefits than other units and you can actually save a large amount of money by choosing them. Doing an online search can be helpful, as well as checking the site for the U.S. Energy Policy Act . This 2005 Act allows tax breaks for consumers that upgrade the energy efficiency of their homes. Always look for an Energy Star label. This label is for appliances that have met a number of requirements and they must have their energy usage and cost displayed on the appliance. There may also be a list of tax credits available on their site, Tax Credits for Energy Star. Many tax credits have expired but it is good to check anyway to see if something new is available.

Update Energy Efficiency

Now is a good time to check other aspects of your home energy efficiency. Update insulation of you need to. Consider buying energy efficient windows and doors. Add storm doors and windows, or if nothing else, caulk around the door and window openings and replace the door sweeps. Even small things that you do can add up in energy savings this winter.

Aesthetics and Advantages

In the past homes that had propane heat advertised the fact by the huge, silver or white tanks that sat on the property. These tanks are unsightly and some homeowners have hesitated to use propane heat because of it. That has changed and home builders are able to put the tanks underground, with just a small slope above ground for finding and filling the tank.A 500 gallon tank with take care of the needs of an avarage sized four bedroom home, while a 1,000 gallon tank will handle large homes with such luxury items as heated pools and hot tubs.

With the cost of everything rising it is important to have the most efficient heating system you can afford. If you have not considered propane as an economic, heating alternative you may want to look into it. Not only can it save you money on your monthly heating bills but it may cause the value of your home to be higher when the time comes to sell.

Funny Propane Commercial


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      While the facts stated are true the one significant variable is the per gallon cost for LP. LP cost is directly related to the cost of oil, is unregulated and is now super-expensive. All indications are that the price of oil is going to go up and remain high for the foreseeable future. If you have natural gas available in your area, choose a natural gas furnace or invest in a conversion kit if you have an LP furnace now. The savings will likely be significant.

    • Sylvie Strong profile image

      Sylvie Strong 

      8 years ago

      Great hub topic and well written. Energy efficient propane furnaces are not something I knew very much about and I feel much better informed now.

    • profile image


      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I agree with you and there are many benefits of using propane. Glad to see someone is writing about it.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Remember to changer your furnace filter on a regular basis to improve efficiency.

    • shanel profile image


      8 years ago from Seattle

      Great post! By being able to get rid of the unsightly tank by burying it, propane becomes a more aesthetically pleasing choice for heat.


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