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Alaska Propane vs Electricity Energy Comparison Cost Chart

propane vs electricity

In Alaska, you have plenty of options when it comes to heating and powering your home. You can choose from utility gas, electricity, propane, solar, fuel oil, kerosene, gasoline, coal, and even wood. 

According to the Census Bureau, most households in Alaska rely on utility gas for home heating, with 47.1% of households doing so. It should be noted that utility gas is usually the most common energy source in other states. The second-most used energy source in Alaska is fuel oil, kerosene, gasoline, alcohol, and other combustible liquids, with 28.1% of homes utilizing them for heating.

However, if you don’t have access to either utility gas or fuel oil suppliers, then your choices narrow a lot. The two most common alternatives to utility gas and fuel oils are propane gas and electricity. So, you may have to deal with answering the question: Which is more cost-effective, propane or electricity?

Propane vs electricity energy cost calculator

Both propane gas and electricity come with their unique advantages, but their cost implications for running everyday household appliances can vary significantly. Therefore, we put together a detailed energy comparison of the costs associated with propane gas and electricity. We’ve also constructed detailed charts showing the costs involved in powering common household devices with propane versus electricity in Alaska. 

Whether you’re considering a switch in energy source, or simply curious about where your dollars go when the bills arrive, this comparison provides a comprehensive understanding of propane and electricity costs in Alaska and America overall. All prices are based on the most recent price data compiled by the National Council on Energy (NCOE), sourced from EIA estimates.

HVAC appliances energy cost comparison

First, we’ll break down what’s usually the most costly use of energy in your home: heating systems. Why are heating systems usually the most expensive?

Because converting one form of energy — such as electrical energy or chemical energy — into heat requires a lot of power (Note: Power is measured in watts, W). More power means more money coming out of your wallet. And in Alaska, your home heating system is — for lack of a more dramatic word — important, which means that the energy costs related to heating will be much higher than in the rest of the country.

The wattage of most home heat pumps, in the warmer months of the year, typically ranges from 545 to 4,285 watts, with an average of 2,415. In the colder months, the range is from around 1,000 to 7,500 watts. Another common generator of residential heat are space heaters. These are especially popular in places where access or usage of utility gas is limited and, not surprisingly, the same places where electrification has grown as prime home heating fuel.

Below is an energy cost comparison chart for a heat pump running for five months of the year during the warmer seasons, five months of the year during the colder seasons, a space heater running for five months, a 10-20 gallon water heater running for two hours per day, and a 30-80 gallon water heater running for two hours per day, in Alaska:

Appliance (W, average)Length of Time UsedCost per Month: ElectricityCost per Month: PropaneCost per Year: ElectricityCost per Year: Propane
Heat pump (2415 W)5 months during warm weather$431.69$177.50$2,158.43$887.52
Heat pump (4250 W)5 months during cold weather$759.70$312.38$3,798.48$1,561.88
Space heater (1500 W)5 months during cold weather$640.19$255.36$3,200.94$1,276.80
Water heater (10-20 gallon – 1600 W)2 hours per day$23.83$9.80$286.16$117.67
Water heater (30-80 gallon – 4500 W)2 hours per day$67.03$27.56$804.83$330.93

Thus, when it comes to heating systems, using propane as a source of heat and energy is way more cost-effective than electricity in Alaska. Even though propane prices rise in winter months, the increase in energy costs is usually still less than the increase in electricity prices. Many more households in Alaska rely on electricity for heat — 15.3% of homes — compared to those that rely on propane — only 2.8% of homes. Our energy comparison and cost analysis should really make that 15.3% rethink their energy and heating, and check out propane providers in Alaska.

Kitchen appliances energy cost comparison

Next, we’ll break down the energy costs of common kitchen appliances, including a refrigerator, dishwasher and your oven-stove (this combo is often called a range). While you might be aware that propane can be used to fuel your oven and stove, you might not know that propane can also be used for refrigerators. Additionally, since the hot water in your dishwasher must come from a water heater, your dishwasher too can be powered by propane, because propane fuels the water heater.

To estimate how much it would cost to power these appliances per month and per year in Alaska, we assumed your:

  • Refrigerator will be running all hours of the day
  • Oven/stove will be run for a total of 1 hour over the course of a day
  • Dishwasher will be run for 1 and a half hours per day

An important note on refrigerators: Refrigerators generally have a much lower “running” wattage than their stated average wattage. This is due to the fact they cycle on and off throughout the day. As a general rule of thumb, you can divide your refrigerator’s wattage by three to estimate its actual energy usage. So, a 550-watt refrigerator actually will use about 183 running watts.

Below is the energy comparison of the cost of electricity vs propane on a monthly and annual basis in Alaska:

Appliance (W, average)Hours of Use per DayCost per Month: ElectricityCost per Month: PropaneCost per Year: ElectricityCost per Year: Propane
Refrigerator (550 W)24$32.77$13.48$393.47$161.79
Oven/stove (3500 W)1$26.07$10.72$312.99$128.70
Dishwasher (1800 W)1.5$20.11$8.27$241.45$99.28

With electricity costing an average of 24.50 cents per kilowatt-hour ($0.2450 per kWH) and Alaska propane prices averaging $2.72 per gallon, it is much cheaper to run kitchen appliances using propane vs electricity in Alaska. Fortunately for those shopping around for different energy sources, Alaska has several propane dealers across the state to choose from.

Laundry and living room appliances energy cost comparison

Third, we’ll break down the energy costs of those two mainstays of the laundry room — washers and dryers — as well as that hearth of the home — the fireplace. Non-wood fireplaces can be fueled by electricity or propane, as well as several other fuel sources. And since the hot water in your washing machine comes from your water heater, propane can be used to power your washer.

In order to estimate how much it would cost to power these appliances per month and per year, we assumed your:

  • Clothes dryer will be run for approximately 4 hours total, one day per week
  • Fireplace that will be running for approximately 2 hours total per day during five colder months
  • Washing machine will be run for approximately 4 hours total, one day per week

Below is the energy cost of electricity versus propane on a monthly and annual basis in Alaska:

Appliance (W, average)Hours of UseCost per Month: ElectricityCost per Month: PropaneCost per Year: ElectricityCost per Year: Propane
Dryer (3250 W)4 hours, 1 day per week$13.84$5.69$166.08$68.29
Fireplace (1500 W)2 hours per day, 5 months during cold weather$22.34$9.19$111.72$45.94
Washing machine (900 W)4 hours, 1 day per week$3.83$1.58$45.99$18.91

As the table above makes clear, it is far cheaper to run laundry appliances using propane vs electricity. The average cost of electricity in Alaska is well above the national average, while average propane prices in Alaska are only slightly higher than their respective national average. Still, propane remains cheaper than electricity.

Advantages of propane vs electricity

In addition to the energy comparison breakdowns above, here are some other reasons why propane is better than electricity:

Higher heating efficiency

Propane has a higher energy content per unit compared to electricity, which means it often delivers heat more efficiently. When used in furnaces, propane reaches higher temperatures faster than electric heat pumps. This makes propane heaters more effective in colder climates where rapid heating might be essential.

Economic considerations

In many areas, propane can be a more cost-effective energy source than electricity. While initial setup costs for propane might be higher due to the need for tanks and infrastructure, the ongoing costs can be lower in regions where electricity prices are high. This can result in substantial savings over time for homeowners and businesses alike.

Environmental impact

While both electricity and propane have environmental footprints, the source of the electricity matters a lot. In regions where electricity is primarily derived from coal or other non-renewable resources, using propane might result in a lower carbon footprint. Propane burns cleaner than many other fossil fuels. It produces fewer greenhouse gasses and pollutants.

Reliability and independence

Propane can be stored on-site in tanks. This allows homeowners and businesses to maintain an independent energy reserve. This contrasts with electricity, which might be subject to grid failures or blackouts. Having a propane tank ensures that even in the event of power outages or disruptions, a consistent energy source remains available.

Versatility and adaptability

Propane is a versatile energy source that can be used not only for heating. It can also for cooking, water heating, and even refrigeration. This multifunctional capability means that homes and businesses can consolidate their energy needs under one reliable source. Additionally, as technology evolves, propane appliances are also becoming more efficient and adaptable. This further enhances their appeal over electric alternatives in certain scenarios.

Is it cheaper to heat with propane or electricity in Alaska?

Heating a home in Alaska with a propane heating system is much cheaper than an electric system. Plus, over time, propane water heaters can cost one-third less to operate and heat water twice as quickly as electric water heaters.

Should I switch from electric to propane?

If you’ve been grappling with rising heating and energy expenses, it might be worth contemplating a shift from electric to propane. Propane stands out as a remarkably efficient energy alternative. It often delivers the same, if not better, results with a smaller energy input compared to electricity. This inherent efficiency means you could experience comparable or superior performance. At the same time, you’ll have a noticeable reduction in energy consumption.

Converting from electric heat to propane offers not just an energy-efficient solution. It is also a potentially cost-effective one. With propane’s capacity to heat spaces efficiently, homeowners might discover that their homes remain cozy and warm without the hefty price tag often associated with electric heating. Over time, these savings can accumulate. That makes the switch a financially savvy decision for those keen on optimizing their home’s energy use and reducing monthly bills.

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