Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: Compare Natural Gas with Propane - Do You Know the Differences?

Compare Natural Gas with Propane - Do You Know the Differences?

Did you know there is a difference in Natural Gas and Propane? To me, the biggest difference is that Natural Gas prices are regulated by the state of Texas and Propane prices are not. I knew nothing about Propane until I moved to Austin TX, except you can trade in a propane tank for your grill at most local grocery stores.

In Austin, because of the limestone and the lakes and rivers, it's costly to get natural gas lines to some areas. In my neighborhood of Falconhead West in Bee Cave TX, just West of Austin, we have community Propane. This means that each individual house does not have their own propane tank for their property, but we're all plumbed to a central tank for the entire community. It was too costly to bring Natural Gas, so the developers created a relationship with a local propane company.

natural gas vs propane austin texasThis post isn't about the debate on whether or not Propane is ridiculously priced high and how we need legislation in order to regulate propane prices, but instead this post is about the differences in Natural Gas and Propane as we could all learn the differences between them so you can decide which one you want running your BBQ grill or heating your water and house.

Natural Gas occurs naturally, hence the term. Propane is a byproduct of both petroleum refining and natural gas processing. Natural Gas must be cleaned before being used, and byproducts of this process include Propane, in addition to others.

Propane provides more energy per unit of volume. Propane is measured in gallons or liters, whereas Natural Gas is measured in cubic feet or meters. Heat from both are measured in BTUs, British Thermal Units. A BTU is the amount of heat needed to increase temperatures 1 degree F of 1 pound of water.

Here's where numbers are interesting. When Natural Gas provides 1000 BTUs, the Propane provides 2500 BTUs for the same volume. Simple math tells us that Propane has more usable energy and you should need less Propane for the same amount of energy as Natural Gas.

What I've learned is that Natural Gas burns much cleaner and Propane can leave a distinct flavor in foods that are cooked on a grill. Propane can also put a lot of polutants back into the air we breath. Propane is heavier than air so it mostly falls to the ground, but can still carry with wind.

Less Propane is needed as it's more energy efficient, but it costs more to use because one, it's not regulated and two, transportation and storage costs.

Needless to say, I understand why some communities put in Propane for their neighborhoods, but overall, it seems Natural Gas is the more cost effective things to have installed. New Communities in my area, like Sweetwater and Ladera, were able to secure Natural Gas over Propane. Good for them!

Here's where I got my information, and you can read more...

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donna harris Realtor Austin TX blog

Donna Harris, REALTOR®
RE/MAX Austin Skyline

Austin TX Real Estate

and the surrounding areas of Lakeway, Bee Cave, West Lake Hills, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Spicewood, Circle-C, Steiner Ranch, and everywhere in between... Hill Country Austin TX Real Estate and beyond. Whether you're buying or selling an Austin home, I'll be with you every step of the way. 

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Compare Natural Gas with Propane - Do You Know the Differences?* was first published on

Comment balloon 3 commentsDonna Harris • January 07 2013 11:56AM


Good information Donna.   When ever I read about propane I always think of Hank Hill on King of the Hill and his propane and propane accessories.

Posted by Jim Patton, Realtor - Stanislaus & Merced county Realtor. (Century 21 M&M - 209-404-0816) about 6 years ago

Hi Donna,  I was raised in a home that operated on propane.  Today I'm an all electric lover! :)

Posted by Ricki Eichler McCallum, Broker,GRI,ABR, - Your Coastal Bend Home Source (CastNet Realty) about 6 years ago

Jim, Cute...

Ricki, My first house was all electric. I can't say I'm a fan. I prefer natural gas, but don't have that option where I am.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - about 6 years ago