How long will a tank of propane last in the winter?


With the winter heating season upon us, many homeowners begin to worry about the cost of propane, running out, when to request deliveries and keeping their family warm and comfortable. When you rely on our team to serve your propane needs, you can trust us to help keep your home warm, your propane tank full and have tools to effectively manage your propane costs.

Every home is different, and there are several factors that impact the amount of propane your home uses. When we enroll a new homeowner for propane delivery, our team will factor in the total square footage of their home, how many people live in the home and what propane appliances will be used.

Propane Tank Sizes

Below are the three most common sizes of propane tanks we see at homes throughout Central and Southeastern PA. The important thing to note is that when tanks are filled, the volume of propane is approximately 80% of the total tank capacity in order to allow for expansion.

How many gallons does my propane furnace use?

First, we need to explain the measurement of heat in propane which is called BTU or British Thermal Unit. A gallon of propane contains 91,333 BTU. If your propane furnace has a rating of 100,000 BTU/hour, it will burn 1.09 gallons of propane per hour. If your furnace has a lower or higher BTU/hour rating, this will change the amount of propane burned in an hour.

To determine how many gallons of propane are needed, we have two examples below. For these examples, we will use a rating of 100,000 BTU/hour for the propane furnace.

Example 1

A homeowner has a 2000 square foot home that only uses propane for space heating. They have a 120-gallon propane tank that is filled (80% capacity), which equates to 96 gallons. To find the number of hours of energy in the tank, take 96 gallons and divide it by 1.09 gallons per hour that the furnace burns. This equates to almost 88 hours of energy available.

The homeowner estimates their furnace runs for a total of 4 hours a day as it’s late fall and the outdoor temperature is not below freezing. They’ll use approximately 4.5 gallons of propane a day. Take the 88 hours of energy available and divide by 4 hours. If the conditions in this example remain, the homeowners would have about 22 days before they ran their tank empty.

Example 2

A homeowner has a 2000 square foot home. The home uses propane for space heating, water heating and has a gas fireplace. This homeowner has a 500-gallon tank and when filled holds approximately 400 gallons of propane. Because this homeowner uses propane for water heating and cooking, we need to account for the average daily propane use for these appliances.

The average use of propane for water heating is 1.5 gallons per day. This usage can increase due to the number of bathrooms in the home, how many people live in the home and how often hot water is used for laundry and dishwashing. This homeowner enjoys relaxing every night in front of their fireplace in the winter for two hours, using 2 gallons of propane per hour (4 gallons per day).

It’s the dead of the winter and it’s cold. The homeowner estimates their 100,000 BTU/hour rated furnace is running 7 hours a day. Multiplying this by the 1.09 gallons, requiring 7.63 gallons of propane for the furnace. In total, this homeowner uses approximately 11 gallons of propane a day. With a 500-gallon propane tank, this homeowner has approximately 36 days of propane if the conditions remain the same.

So … When should these homeowners request their next propane delivery? 

It depends on whether a customer has enrolled in automatic deliveries, or they want the responsibility of monitoring their propane usage and requesting their next delivery. Propane tank gauge

Automatic Customers

Automatic customers do not need to monitor their tank’s gauge and find time to request their next delivery. We utilize special software to track current temperatures and past propane usage to estimate when the next delivery should be made. There are no additional costs to enroll in our automatic delivery program. Automatic delivery customers should contact us if their propane needs change. Things that can affect a change in propane use may be more people living in your home, you add a new appliance that uses propane, you are no longer using a supplemental heating source or start using another source of heat.

Will-Call Customers

Will-call customers would be responsible for monitoring their fuel usage. They will need to request their next delivery through our easy-to-use online portal or call into our office. We request will-call customers order their deliveries when their tank’s gauge is at 30%. This allows us adequate time to schedule your delivery well before your tank would be empty.

If the two examples above were homeowners who were enrolled in will-call deliveries and their propane usage remained the same, the following scenarios would apply:

Example 1: This homeowner uses 4.5 gallons of propane a day. If the homeowner requests their next delivery when their tank gauge reads 30%, they will have approximately 8 days before they run out.

Example 2: This homeowner uses 11 gallons of propane per day. If the homeowner requests their next delivery when their tank gauge reads 30%, they have almost 14 days before they run out.

Our goal is to make a delivery within three business days of an order – well before either of these tanks in these examples would run empty.

Looking for a reliable propane provider?

The Rhoads Energy Family of Companies has been serving the propane needs of homeowners throughout Lancaster, Chester, Berks, Lebanon, and Western Montgomery Counties for many years. In addition to reliable delivery, we also offer price-protection plans. Our Bundle Up plan helps homeowners control their winter heating costs.

If you are a homeowner in Lancaster, Lebanon, Montgomery, or Chester County, click here.

If you are served by one of our other fuel delivery divisions, click on the company name below to request more information or our rates.

EG Smith, serving Berks County

Reilly & Sons, Serving the Exton Area