With most recent statement in hand....
I pay Superior Propane $1.008 per litre. My bill includes a $6.00
"transportation fee" and an additional $3.95 "hazardous mat handling
fee". My consumption during this billing period was 94.5 litres and
my total bill, including tax, comes to $119.93.
There are approximately 24,200 BTUs per litre of propane (7.1 kWh).
If I multiple 94.5 litres by 24,200 BTUs, the result is 2,286,900
That means one million BTUs cost me $52.44. That's the equivalent of
buying electricity at $0.18 per kWh. Assuming an 80 per cent
conversion efficiency, my actual cost per kWh(e) is just over $0.22.
The net result is that I pay more than twice as much for propane as I
My furnace doesn't have a fan, plus I'm off grid, so my power is never
out. Propane wall heaters are non-electric. My primary heat is wood, but
I have propane heat for when I want to go away for a weekend.
As you probably know, LP is derived from either oil or natural gas and
its price thus closely follows these other two fuels. And since the
U.S. is a net importer of oil and gas and since the gap between supply
and demand continues to grow wider day by day, its price is likely to
become increasingly volatile over time, with the long-term trend
pointing upward. Also worth noting you'll be competing (should I say
fighting?) with the rest of the world for these resources as they
become increasingly more scarce.
Electricity prices are likely to remain more stable over the long
term, as a good portion is generated by way of coal and nuclear (both
domestic resources) and therefore not subject to the same external
market forces. Plus electricity can capitalize on a growing portfolio
of renewable resources such as wind, small hydro, geothermal, solar,
etc., that generally have very low operating costs and, thankfully,
much more modest environmental impact. This will further add to the
diversity in supply and perhaps help dampen price pressures on other
I don't want to suggest everyone race out to their local home
improvement store and buy armfuls of electric baseboard heaters; that
would be insane. However, when it comes time to evaluate your heating
options, I hope a geothermal or air source heat pump will be added to
As previously noted, a high efficiency heat pump can produce three
times more heat, per kWh, than an electric baseboard heater, even in
cold, northern climates. I can buy a ductless heat pump today with a
21 SEER rating and a HSPF of 11.0 -- that's double the efficiency of
many heat pumps now in service. And the good news is that the
Japanese are working hard to advance that bar even higher, which begs
the question: where's America's leadership in this area?
Looking at it another way, if I were to switch from electric baseboard
heat to a high efficiency heat pump, electricity prices could double
or triple and I would still pay less per month than what I do now.
That's precisely the long-term price protection a high efficiency heat
pump can offer me today.
As always, do whatever you can to lower your heating and cooling
requirements through generous insulation and careful air sealing.
Then, and only then, take a look at some of the alternative heating
systems that have the potential to dramatically lower your monthly
As an addendum to my previous note, I came across this on the
Bloomberg,com website earlier today:
Tony Blair, speaking of the U.K.'s own declining North Sea oil and gas
reserves and the subsequent future of nuclear power in that country
spelled it out in rather blunt terms.... ``We are going to move from
self sufficiency in gas to importing 90 percent of it'.
North Sea production peaked in 1999 and has been steadily falling ever
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