Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Propane: please correct me if I'm wrong!!!

I just returned from a week in Montello. It was relaxing and productive and a great time with friends. Thanks for hanging out everybody. I thoroughly enjoyed it!!!

I have a few logs out there that need to be cut up for firewood, but I'm hesitant to use the chainsaw when I'm alone in case of accident. So, when I ran out of chopped wood on day three, I decided to fire up the propane Mr. Heater "buddy". After the end of the day I realized the buddy heater had kept the container very comfortable all day and into the evening running on the low setting (4,000 BTU). Then, I started doing the math and making inquiries. Russ mentioned he only uses propane because it's easy and relatively cheap. When you take account of a 45 minute drive up the canyon to secure firewood, the cost of fuel to get there, and the risk factors involved, propane appears to make a compelling case for itself. I'll paraphrase the lasting comment made by Russ, "one rock punctures your tire and you could have just bought a whole bunch of propane!" There is still a heavy case to be made for firewood when you think about the romantic side of cutting, splitting, and stacking your own wood....something real manly about that that speaks to me!

The math. The math of propane, given the limited data collected from my place, seems to trump the romance of firewood. The data is as follows. I ran the Buddy heater for approximately 16 hours per day on the low (4,000) BTU setting when it was overcast. A side caveat here is that on clear days the container requires no additional heat source besides the sun! Despite the buddy heater having a low oxygen shut off sensor, the last thing I want to do is not wake up in the morning from oxygen deprevation. So, while sleeping for 8 hours I threw on an extra blanket and turned off the heater. The mornings were mildly chilling, but nothing a fleece and firing up the heater didn't cure in 15 minutes. More math. The heater buddy will run on the low setting for 110 hours on a 20 pound propane tank. There are 4.24 pounds of propane in one gallon. One gallon of propane is currently priced at 2.09 per gallon at Amerigas in Tremonton, UT....(rates are usually lower in the spring, summer, or fall, which is the best time to fill up). I calculated the heating season at 180 days and placed a value of 50% on those days as propane augmented heating days, which means 90 solid 16 hours days of running the heater.

The result. 62 gallons of propane per year to heat at a cost of $130!!!! Again, please correct me if the math is wrong....and don't get to excited unless you like the idea of living in 160 square feet (which I do).

In case you're wondering, one tire on my Jeep (and likely your vehicle too) is priced at $120. All this discovery will not result in my removing the wood stove. I think wood and propane are like wind and solar in Montello...either one is pretty good, but having both allow for redundancy and a predictable quality of life!

P.S. Montello is GOOD!!!!!


  1. The heating bill for my Logan home in November alone was $150....ugh!!! Did I mention I just paid over $1,000 in annual property taxes on the same home...and we all know property taxes in Montello are less than $14 a year on 10 acres. I think Eddie Vedder said it best..."it's a mystery to me, we have agreed with which we have agreed"

  2. We were planning on having a propane support tank when we move because of the price and convenience. I personally don't like the smell of wood burning and scenting my clothes and everything else. Use propane as long as you can, I say.