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Illinois Propane vs Electricity Energy Comparison Cost Chart

propane vs electricity

In Illinois, you have a lot of options when it comes to heating and powering your home. There’s natural gas, electricity, propane, solar, fuel oil, kerosene, geo-thermal, and even wood. In Illinois, most households use utility gas for home heating, at 74.6% of households (utility gas is usually the most common energy source in other states as well). This is followed by electricity, with 19% using this for their home heating energy.

However, the third most popular form of home heating fuel is propane gas, with 4.5% of households this fuel source for heating. Therefore, if you don’t have access to utility gas, you’ll likely be faced with the question: Which energy source is cheaper in Illinois, propane vs electricity?

Propane vs electricity energy cost calculator

Both propane and electricity come with their unique advantages, but their cost implications for running everyday household appliances can vary significantly. Here, we provide a detailed comparative analysis of propane vs electricity. What’s more, we’ve put together a series of charts that highlight the costs associated with powering common household devices with propane vs electricity in Illinois.

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 Illinois 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

We begin with a break down of what’s usually the most expensive use of energy in your home: heating systems. Why are heating and air conditioning systems usually the most expensive?

It’s 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 those Illinois winters when the heat is running, this connection is more relevant than ever.

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. Illinois has seen both the residential usage of electricity and propane gas for heating increase from 2010 to 2022.

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 Illinois:

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$260.60$118.12$1,302.99$590.59
Heat pump (4250 W)5 months during cold weather$458.61$207.87$2,293.04$1,039.34
Space heater (1500 W)5 months during cold weather$161.86$73.37$809.31$366.83
Water heater (10-20 gallon – 1600 W)2 hours per day$14.39$6.52$172.75$78.30
Water heater (30-80 gallon – 4500 W)2 hours per day$40.47$18.34$485.85$220.22

When it comes to HVAC appliances, using propane as a source of heat and energy is vastly cheaper than electricity in Illinois. Even though propane prices rise in winter months, the increase in energy costs is usually still less than the increase in electricity prices. In Illinois, the percentage of households using electricity for home heating has increased from 13.3% in 2010 to 19% in 2022. This growth in electric heating was mainly at the expense of homes using utility gas, which fell from 80.8% of households in 2010 to 74.6% of households in 2022.

Kitchen appliances energy cost comparison

Next, let’s take a look at the energy costs of a couple of common kitchen appliances, including a refrigerator, dishwasher, and your oven-stove. Although you probably know propane can be used to fuel an oven or stove, you might not know that propane can also be used for refrigerators. On top of that, since the hot water in your dishwasher must come from a water heater, your dishwasher too can be powered by propane, because propane can fuel your water heater.

To estimate how much it would cost to power these appliances per month and per year in Illinois, 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 Illinois:

Appliance (W, average)Hours of Use per DayCost per Month: ElectricityCost per Month: PropaneCost per Year: ElectricityCost per Year: Propane
Refrigerator (550 W)24$19.78$8.97$237.53$107.66
Oven/stove (3500 W)1$15.74$7.13$188.94$85.64
Dishwasher (1800 W)1.5$12.14$5.50$145.76$66.07

With electricity costing an average of 14.79 cents per kilowatt-hour ($0.1479 per kWH) in Illinois and propane prices averaging $1.81 per gallon, it is significantly cheaper to run kitchen appliances on propane vs electricity in Illinois. Fortunately for those shopping around for different energy sources, Illinois has several propane dealers across the state to choose from, including DCC Propane and EDP, both being among the biggest propane companies in the U.S.

Laundry and living room appliances energy cost comparison

Finally, we turn to the 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, among many other fuel sources. Plus, 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 propane vs electricity on a monthly and annual basis in Illinois:

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$8.35$3.79$100.26$45.44
Fireplace (1500 W)2 hours per day, 5 months during cold weather$13.49$6.11$67.44$30.57
Washing machine (900 W)4 hours, 1 day per week$2.31$1.05$27.76$12.58

As the table above makes abundantly clear, it is significantly cheaper to run laundry appliances on propane vs electricity in Illinois. The average cost of electricity in Illinois is less than the national average, but the average propane price in the state is well below its national average price.

Advantages of propane vs electricity

In terms of cost, propane is better than electricity in Illinois. What’s more, in addition to the energy comparison breakdowns above, here are some other reasons why propane is better than electricity:

Reliability and independence

Propane can be stored on-site in tanks. This allows homeowners and businesses to maintain an independent energy reserve, separate from the electrical grid. 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 be used for cooking, water heating, and even refrigeration. This multifunctional capability means that homes and businesses can consolidate their energy needs under one reliable source. Plus, as technology evolves, propane appliances are also becoming more efficient and adaptable. This further enhances their appeal over electric alternatives in certain scenarios.

Environmental impact

It’s true that both electricity and propane have environmental footprints. However, the source of the electricity matters a lot in terms of environmental friendliness. 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.

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.

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

Heating a home in Illinois with a propane heating system is cheaper than an electric system. Indeed, over time, propane water heaters can cost one-third less to operate. Propane heaters also heat water twice as quickly as electric water heaters.

Should I switch from electric to propane?

If you’ve been having a tough time with rising heating and energy expenses, it might be worth contemplating a switch from electric to propane. Illinois generally has costs of living that are less than the national average overall. 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 smart decision for those keen on optimizing their home’s energy use and reducing monthly bills.

Can you run a whole house on propane?

A whole-home propane tank offers more than just an alternative heating solution. It can also serve as the fuel source for a backup generator, ensuring uninterrupted electricity supply to your residence. When unexpected power outages occur, having a propane-powered generator means your home can continue to operate seamlessly. Its capacity to effectively power an entire household sets it apart as a reliable energy contingency plan.

The resilience of propane generators is truly noteworthy, with the ability to sustain a home’s energy needs for up to five days on a single tank. This extended period can be critical during prolonged power disruptions, ensuring that vital appliances remain operational. This means that even during extended outages, homeowners can maintain the comfort of a functioning air conditioner or the safety of perishables in a refrigerator. Investing in a propane generator not only guarantees peace of mind but also ensures the continuity of essential household operations when they’re needed most.

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