While doing a recent Energy Audit, the homeowner asked me if it would be cheaper to cook with propane rather than with electric since the price of propane has been so low. The homeowner was already in the market for a new cooktop and since he already has propane in the house, the cost of switching over to propane would not be that expensive. I also have a friend who has a propane cooktop and is interested in switching hers out to electric since she likes that better. So which one would really save you money?
I pay about $0.10 per KW for electricity and the going rate for propane (prices vary based on volume) is currently $2.60 per gallon. I am basing my price for propane on what I just paid for a years’ worth of propane so my prices might be lower since I am buying in bulk and everything that can be gas in my house is gas.
Determining your average stove usage is difficult, there are lots of variables. Do you cook like Paula Deen or do you only warm things up once in a while? To make my calculations much easier I utilized a wonderful online calculator for just this purpose at https://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/cooking.html. This is a website written by Mr. Electricity himself, Michael Bluejay. The calculator lets you put in the number of hours that you use the stove per month vs. how often you use the burners and even takes into account how many burners you use. Take a second and put in your personal usage numbers. Remember that our electricity is about $0.10 per KW and enter that info at the top of the calculator. To translate the price per gallon of propane to price per Therm follow this calculation: ( $2.60)(1 gal/91,000 BTU)(100,000 BTU/1 Therm) = $2.86/Therm
Once you have all the information into the calculator it gives you the price to operate the stovetop whether you have a pilot light or an electric igniter or whether you have a standard electric or a convection oven.
One caveat regarding your current house configuration, if you do not have a propane connection for a gas cooktop, you would have to pay to have the gas line extended to your cooktop area, a cost of around $1200. But don’t get too excited, if you were going to switch to electric from gas there would be some retrofit costs as well. A cooktop uses a 220 volt line with a pretty large breaker and requires very thick electric wire and all of this would probably be around, you guessed it, $1200.
Your range hood vent should always be vented to the outside for indoor air quality reasons. With the addition of a combustion appliance like propane, this is even more important. So if you have one of those range hoods that just filters the air and sends it right back into the kitchen, you need to invest in a some venting ductwork and vent those combustion gasses to the outside. Of course this also would increase cost, but in my opinion well worth it.
After running the numbers, it appears that electric is actually cheaper. I do know that people that like gas, really like gas and people who like electric, really like electric. It’s worth taking a hard look under your cooktop to see if you have the option of switching without additional work. And cooktops don’t come with Energy Star labels so there are no guidance on which ones to choose from the Department of Energy.
So which do you have and do you want to change? Let’s talk about it, comment on my blog at www.GCIEnergyConsultants.com. I am looking forward to hearing from you!