Posted: August 6, 2018
It’s easy to underestimate your propane usage in the summer, since propane equipment that operates during the dog days often works quietly behind the scenes (propane water heaters, ranges, patio heaters, etc.). If you get an unexpectedly high summer propane bill, you might even suspect you have a leak somewhere in your system.
If you think you might have a propane leak, do a leak test right away (while you’re at it, we highly recommend installing propane leak detectors) – and of course if you smell propane, leave the house immediately and follow all propane safety instructions.
Most of the time, however, you won’t have a leak – you just underestimated your propane usage. The good news is our friends at Propane101.com have a solution for that: a handy guide to calculate summer propane usage in your home.
The folks at Propane101.com make the reasonable assumption that you’re not running your propane equipment at 100 percent capacity all day long; instead, they estimate propane usage for running your appliances at 25 and 50 percent capacity for 2 to 6 hours a day.
As you’ll see, the estimate of potential propane use varies widely from 1.2 to 7.2 gallons a day; it’s easy to see how a few extra loads of laundry and hot showers could result in using much more propane than you think!
Here’s an example: To operate a gas range, dryer and water heater at 25 percent capacity for two hours per day, you will need:
220,000 BTU/hr (total for all appliances) ÷ 91,547 (BTU/gallon for propane) = 2.4 gal/hour
2.4 gallons x 0.25 (25% capacity) = 0.6 gallons (per hour)
0.6 gallons x 2 hours = 1.2 gallons
This number can then be used to calculate more intensive use of propane appliances:
If you use a propane pool heater (425,000 BTU/hr) for one hour per day at 75 percent capacity, it adds about 3.5 gallons per day to your usage:
425,000 BTU/hr ÷ 91,547 = 4.64 gal/hr
4.64 x 0.75 = 3.48 gallons
As you can see, pool heaters use quite a bit of fuel – a big reason why we strongly suggest using a swimming pool cover to retain as much of your pool’s heat as possible.