How Many Gallons Do I Need?

Typical consumption for a propane fireplace? Perhaps from 100 to 200 gallons a year. (image: AlcoRhythm via flickr.com)

It’s a common question asked by the new propane customer: How much propane am I gonna need? And that answer will guide the calculations about what size tank you should pick out, and budget how much the heating season will cost. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this one.

A household’s propane consumption varies with the ways they burn it. Imagine two families that heat their homes with propane, the Plimptons and the Castillos. Both live in identical houses, but the Plimptons keep the thermostat at 72 and the Castillos at 62. That could make a difference of a hundred gallons over the year. Meantime, the Zhuangs live in an identical house and keep the thermostat at 62, but have terrific insulation and brand-new, double-pane windows. That affects the propane tank, too.

In short, there’s a bit of guesswork that goes into estimating how much propane you’ll need in a year.

That said, here are some yardstick numbers to use when setting your expectations, based on the averages from different propane retailers’ figures. Use these as a benchmark, and discuss your household routine with your dealer to get a clearer sense of how much propane you need.

Home heating: 700 to 900 gallons
BUT of all the usage numbers, this will be the most flexible. The size of the home, heating habits, and local climate will all affect the burn.

Hot water: 300 gallons
Needless to say, a family with nine kids and four bathrooms will burn more.

Propane-powered dryer: 50 to 75 gallons

Gas range in the kitchen: 25 to 50 gallons