Natural gas space heater operating cost ?

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Keye

Keye
Corporate Member
We are looking at a renovated older house to buy. There was a screen poarch that has been turned into a sun room. The room is heated with a free standing natural gas heater. The windows are double pane. The room is about 13x30 and has a concrete on grade floor. The house also has a gas water heater and gas fireplace logs. The gas bills look about right except for the colder months. The gas bills run between $250 and $300 dollars during these months. The main house is heated with a heat pump.

The owner says the gas bills are so high because she runs the space heater 24/7 to keep her plants alive. Does anyone know if this type heater could produce bills this high. I can not come up with anything to contradict the owner. We are going to look at the place again and I will see if the heater has a BTU rating on it.
 

RandyJ

Randy
Corporate Member
Natural gas is the cheapest fuel (other than solar or wind) due to less refining and fewer middlemen. Also about 95% of it is produced in the U.S. so you wouldn't be supporting any foreign kingdoms:slap:.
 

DaveO

New User
DaveO
Natural gas is the cheapest fuel (other than solar or wind) due to less refining and fewer middlemen.

I don't know about that now days. I have propane heat at my house. Nothing else runs on gas. For the heating season, around 4 months, I pay around $186 per month. My electric bill to run everything else in the house (AC, water heater, lights, stove, washer/dryer, etc) all year round (balanced pay) and my shop is about the same amount.
Dave:)
 

RandyJ

Randy
Corporate Member
I don't know about that now days. I have propane heat at my house. Nothing else runs on gas. For the heating season, around 4 months, I pay around $186 per month. My electric bill to run everything else in the house (AC, water heater, lights, stove, washer/dryer, etc) all year round (balanced pay) and my shop is about the same amount.
Dave:)
I'm no expert Dave, but Natural gas is cheaper than propane. Propane is refined from Natural Gas. More processing/refining = more cost.

I do know that about 4 years ago Propane was selling at about $16 per million BTUs while Natural gas was about $9 per million BTUs. The prices have gone up considerably. As you can see below the "PER THERM" or even "PER GALLON" price of propane is about 3 times that of Natural Gas. :dontknow:

The delta between Natural gas and electric is much closer, but Natural gas still gets the edge here as well.

Here's a comparison chart... Cost Comparison Chart - Natural Gas vs. Other Fossil Fuels*
February 2008 $/MMbtu $/Gallon $/Therm
Natural Gas 8.70 0.87
vs.Propane 27.92 2.56 #2 Fuel Oil 23.45 3.26
*February 2008 survey of fuel suppliers, selected customers, and wholesale price indices by Nicor Gas Business Customer Support.

HTH,
 

DaveO

New User
DaveO
I'm no expert Dave, but Natural gas is cheaper than propane. Propane is refined from Natural Gas. More processing/refining = more cost.
I didn't realize there was a difference. I guess I just need to start eating more beans. Is natural gas methane?
Dave:)
 

RandyJ

Randy
Corporate Member
I didn't realize there was a difference. I guess I just need to start eating more beans. Is natural gas methane?
Dave:)
Bingo DaveO! It's methane. Either go with the beans or get some cows to produce it for you!:rotflm:
 

Steve W

New User
Steve
A $300/month gas bill in NC seems very high to me. I was paying $300 - $450 / month to heat my 1800 sq ft (2 x 4 framed) house during the two coldest months (Jan/Feb) in MA. I have a gaspack on my 2000 sq ft house (2 x 4 framed)in Mebane and the worst I've seen for the month has been about $180. Last month's bill was about $150.

I keep the thermostat at 69 when we're home and have a setback to 60 at night / during work hours.

It is plausible that she's running a hothouse in that porch and converted porches are notorious for being poorly insulated (none in the ceiling) or difficult to heat when there's no sunshine (due to all the glass).

:kermit: Steve
 

mkepke

Mark
Senior User
<snip>I do know that about 4 years ago Propane was selling at about $16 per million BTUs while Natural gas was about $9 per million BTUs. The prices have gone up considerably. As you can see below the "PER THERM" or even "PER GALLON" price of propane is about 3 times that of Natural Gas. :dontknow:

The delta between Natural gas and electric is much closer, but Natural gas still gets the edge here as well.
Randy - if the NG price per 1MM BTU is reasonably accurate ($8.7/1MM BTU), there is also no comparison with electric heat. Electric heat is about 3x as expensive as NG: $32 vs. $8.70

Electric heat is very close to the same as propane, but after you factor in efficiency (usually 80% for propane devices), electricity is now ~20% cheaper per BTU output.

To the OP's question, $25-300/mo doesn't sound implausible. You said that bill covers a gas WH (located in an uninsulated space ?), gas logs (used much in the winter ? - these are very inefficient), plus the heater for a big glass room. Also I would *suspect* that the sunroom heater is indirectly heating some of the rest of the house.

-Mark
 
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