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When most people hear the word propane, they think of the heavy tank attached to their outdoor gas grill. But you may be surprised to learn that there are MANY other uses for this safe, inexpensive and environmentally friendly energy source. In fact, everyday, over 50 million Americans rely on propane in some way, whether to heat their home, cook meals, dry their clothes or fuel their truck.

What is propane?

Propane is a nontoxic, colorless and odorless byproduct of natural gas processing and crude oil refining. Once the propane is extracted, it’s stored in pressurized tanks until needed. Propane can be stored for years without affecting its quality or efficiency.

As with natural gas, a strong identifying odor is added to propane to warn consumers of a leak. Propane is an approved, alternative clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act and 1992 National Energy Policy Act.

Is it safe?

Propane is an extremely safe energy source. Compared to other petroleum products, it has a very narrow range of flammability. What’s more, all propane equipment and appliances must meet stringent safety standards. To help consumers detect a propane leak, manufacturers add a special odorant (smells like rotten eggs) during the refinement process, just as they do to natural gas.

Is propane environmentally friendly?

One of the cleanest burning alternative fuels available today, propane emits fewer lifecycle greenhouse gases than gasoline or diesel fuel in engines. By using propane instead of coal-generated electricity, consumers can actually help preserve the environment and improve air quality. In fact, more than 200,000 buses, taxis and delivery vehicles across the country are fueled by propane.

Who uses it?

Millions of people across the country—including families, farmers, forklift operators, drivers and others—use propane every day to meet their energy needs.

At home, families use it to power their furnaces, water heaters, air conditioners, outdoor grills, fireplaces, dryers and cook tops. On the job, workers rely on propane as an environmentally sound, cost-efficient fuel source for their forklifts, buses, taxis and other delivery fleets. Farmers use propane to power irrigation pumps, grain dryers, standby generators, water heaters and other farming equipment.

Where can I use propane in my home?

Many propane home appliances are available, including:
• Clothes dryers
• Stoves
• Grills
• Hot water heaters
• Patio heaters
• Refrigerators
• Freezers
• Space heaters

Is propane expensive?

According to a recent U.S. Department of Energy study, electricity costs twice as much as propane. Homes fueled by propane often have a better resale value and require far less energy. Consumers can save up to $300 annually by switching to a propane gas furnace and $150 each year with a propane water heater.

The cost of converting to propane is quickly recovered by propane’s lower maintenance and fuel costs. Some conversion costs can also be deducted on your federal income tax return.

How can I learn more about propane?

To learn more about propane use and safety, contact the Propane Education & Research Council at 202-452-8975 or visit For details about using propane in your area, contact the Mid-Atlantic Propane Gas Association (serving Delaware & Maryland) at 703-530-9772 or visit