A common question that is often asked is which energy source is better for heating buildings. By better we mean both the most economical and the least polluting.
Propane Gas? Natural Gas? Electricity?
There are several websites that address this issue and the conclusions are often wrong. Likewise, the general opinion tends to mix concepts. Part of the reason for this confusion is due to the different units with which what is billed, combined with the difference in prices, makes it difficult to see at a glance which system is more economical.
It is also sometimes heard that one “heat” is worse than another, or that one costs more to heat than another. This, of course, is incorrect, since the feeling of comfort or the speed at which a building is heated depends exclusively on the air conditioning system and its power, and not on the source of energy used.
To clear up any doubts, we present an example that has been carried out for average consumption in a home with a 22 kW boiler, running the equivalent of 120 hours per month at nominal load. However, the subsequent conclusions are independent of consumption, as they are proportional to it.
Next, we present a clear breakdown with all the different types of units involved for the three types of energy sources.
We observe the following:
- Propane and diesel are similar, both in cost and in CO2 emissions.
- Natural gas is 35% cheaper than propane, and emits 29% less CO2.
- The direct use of electricity for heat generation (electric heaters, electric radiators, and blue heat) is extremely inefficient from both an economic and environmental point of view, so its use should be avoided in any case.
- In the case of using electricity to power a heat pump, it should have a COP of 2 to compete with propane, and 3 to match natural gas.