heating oil lifespan connecticutA question that we get often is “How long will my heating oil last?” And on cold winter mornings, these are important questions to keep your family and your home warm. 

You want to get the most out of your heating oil and you want to live as efficiently as possible and conserve energy. 

How Long Does Heating Oil Last?

Typically, the calculation for how long heating oil lasts is hinged on the size of your home and how long you leave your furnace running. Using a general rule of thumb, most homeowners use tanks 300 gallons or less for one and two-bedroom homes. 

However, having a good understanding of how long your heating oil lasts is important and dependent on a number of factors other than the size of your home. External temperature, the condition and maintenance of your furnace, how extendable the life of your heating oil is are all factors to consider.

What Factors Affect Heating Oil Usage?

Several factors impact how long your heating oil will last. Let’s cover each of those.

Outdoor Temperature

The amount of heating oil consumed during a blizzard or extremely cold weather is different from that of a warm winter season. Extremely cold outside temperatures increase the rate of heating oil consumption — the more the temperature drops, the higher the rate of heating oil consumption. The wind is also something to consider, as it accelerates the rate of heat loss from a house.

Condition of Your Furnace

What’s the condition of your furnace and how long have you been using it? Has it been well maintained or has it suffered some damages without adequate salvaging? Older, aging furnaces and ill-maintained ones have a tendency to consume more oil than newer models that have been designed for efficiency. You may want to consider upgrading your furnace and having regularly scheduled maintenance.

Your Use Case Scenario

What your oil is being used for specifically is essential for determining how long your heating oil will last. Are you using it for heat, or for both heat and hot water? If you are using it for both, you’ll definitely consume more than the heat-only use case. Also, you may want to check how long your furnace stays on, especially if you do not have a programmable thermostat that can automatically adjust your temperature inside.

Calculating Specifically How Long Heating Oil May Last

A measuring technique by Inspectapedia suggests that you can make a very rough guess of your usage by noting how many minutes per hour your oil burner is running. Denoting that oil burners use a spray nozzle that delivers oil at a flow rate of around 0.8 to 1.7 gallons per hour is important. You’ll also need to know your oil tank size and how much oil you have in it (if it’s not a full tank of oil). 

Santa Energy’s tracking technology saves you a load of stress by calculating precisely when your home will need a heating oil refill and gets your heating oil filled automatically before you run out.

How long should 100 gallons of heating oil last?

Using the calculation above, 1.7 gallons per hour  x 10 hours a day (assuming the number of hours you spend at home is 10 hours) = 17 gallons a day. That means, 100 gallons of oil will last you about six days (100-gallon tank / 17 gallons per day = 5.8 days).

Or, if you want to calculate using a full day (24-hours), 1.7 gallons per hour x 24 hours a day = 40.8 gallons a day. If your oil tank size is 100 gallons, then your tank will last two-and-a-half days (100-gallon tank / 40.8 gallons = 2.45 days).

How long will 10 gallons of heating oil last?

Following our previous calculations, 10 gallons of heating oil at a consumption rate of 1.7 gallons per hour should last 5.8 hours. (10-gallon tank / 1.7 gallons per hour = 5.8 hours).

Northeast Temperatures Effect on Heating Oil Consumption

Considering that most residential heating oil consumers are in the Northeast and about 20% of households in the Northeast Census region use heating oil as their main space heating fuel, it is helpful to make estimates based on outside temperature on how long heating oil lasts in this region.

Here’s a chart that’ll help you make estimates based on outside temperature:

Average Outside Temperature (°F) Approximate Gallons Used in 24 Hours
15 7.8
20 7.0
25 6.2
30 5.3
35 4.5
40 3.7
45 2.8
50 2.0

How to Conserve Heating Oil

The question after examining all of these is, how do you then conserve your heating oil?

Regular Maintenance

Make sure you have the right and well-maintained equipment, from your tank to your furnace. Have your furnace tuned up to keep it working efficiently. Your tank should also be checked regularly for degradation, as a corroded or leaky oil tank will degrade your oil faster and external impurities can penetrate your oil.

Proper Insulation

If your house is well insulated, heating oil conservation is easier. Good insulation means the heat is retained in the house, rather than being dispersed through the roof, windows, and walls. Invest in an energy audit and insulate your home properly, seal gaps around the edges of windows and floorboards, reduce drafts.

According to Energy Saving Trust, you could stop losing around 33% of your heat through uninsulated walls which will make your home feel warmer and more comfortable and save costs. 

Invest in a Programmable Thermostat

Use a Smart Thermostat to regulate the heat, reduce heat wastage and adjust usage when you are not home. 

Layer Up

Dressing in layers and decorating your house for warmth are effective ways of generating heat and conserving energy.

Order Oil During the Off-Season

As the demand for a product increases, the price of that product begins to rise. Oil prices tend to increase with demand, so having your tank filled during a low-demand season is good for you, especially when supply problems can arise during the high-demand winter season.

In addition to our heating oil delivery services, Santa Energy provides a variety of other heating services including furnace maintenance, repair, and new heating system installation.

home hvac care connecticutThe time to think about taking care of your home’s heating system is before the temperatures dip into freezing and you’re eyeing the thermostat in your house. 

Not only can a few easy steps help maintain your whole-house heating system, but it may also prolong the life of your furnace, saving you money in the long run. And since heating your home typically makes up 42% of your utility bill, it’s a good idea to start thinking about how to take care of your heat-generating investment. 

Yes, factors such as home size and gas rates can affect your utility bill, but so can the efficiency and care of your furnace

These easy tips can help maintain the health and life of your furnace.

1. Change the Filter Regularly

Most home furnace issues can be sourced back to a dirty filter. When you leave a dirty air filter in place, airflow is restricted, which leads to reduced energy efficiency, unnecessary wear and tear on your furnace and potential for overheating. Energy Star recommends checking your air filter every month, especially during months of heavy usage. At a minimum, you should be changing out your air filter every three months, to prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system. If you live with pets or in a house with a smoker, you may need to change the filter more often. 

2. Clean Your Ducts

Studies show that the average six-room home in the United States collects up to 40 pounds of dust each year. Where this dust is coming from is entirely different questions that even scientists have been trying to answer. What we do know is that this dust is settling in your home’s air ducts, and is forming a thick layer on the inner walls. This dust not only is then circulated throughout the home, triggering allergies, but it can also damage your heating system. 

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association recommends cleaning your air ducts every three to five years, however where you live may have an impact on how frequently you clean your air ducts. 

3. Check Your Blower Motor

The blower motor is critical to pushing the warmed air through the heat exchanger, which is then distributed through the rest of the home. It’s important to ensure your house reaches the correct temperature. If your blower motor is running constantly but your house isn’t heating up, you may have a problem. If you don’t properly maintain the blower motor, it can break down. A trained technician can help you determine whether the issue is with the blower motor. 

4. Ensure all Vents are Clear

For your heating system to work as efficiently as possible, the heated air must be able to circulate completely in the system, and throughout the house. This means making sure all your vents are working properly and the air is flowing freely. Inspect your vents, remove any furniture, boxes or household items that may be blocking the flow of air. Allowing the system to work as intended means it’s working more efficiently and not as hard to heat your home. 

5. Check Your Thermostat

Making sure your thermostat is in proper working order is an important step to caring for your home’s heating system. Before the cold season starts, turn up the thermostat and listen for the furnace to turn on, and continue running. If the furnace turns on, and then off after a short time, you may need to have your thermostat adjusted (either recalibrated or replaced) or your heat exchanger is malfunctioning. You will need to call a professional to inspect the unit.  

6. Tune-up Your Furnace Annually 

One of the most important things you can do for your home heating system is to get it professionally inspected and tuned up once a year. It’s a great way to extend its lifespan and prevent future breakdowns. Most companies, like Santa Energy, offer heating system tune-ups. This means they will send a professional heating technician to your house to inspect, clean, and fine-tune the different components of your furnace. 

While many of these things can be done on your own, if you don’t feel comfortable handling these tips, you should consider hiring a technician. A professional heating technician can address:

Ensuring your home’s furnace is running properly and efficiently is critical to a well-heated home to make sure you’re not spending more than you need to, in order to heat your home in the winter. 

humidifiers connecticutHumidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. When we think about humidity, we tend to associate it with hot days and how insufferable it can make the summertime. However, humidity isn’t just a seasonal nuisance that frizzes your hair and makes you sweat. Paying attention to how much or little moisture you have in your home is crucial to your health and your home.

Learn why monitoring your humidity is important, how to check your home’s level, and what steps you can take to regulate the water vapor for comfortable, safe living.

What happens when the humidity is too low in your home?

When temperatures drop in the winter, the moisture gets sucked out of the air. The moisture also gets sucked out of your skin and body, making it feel tight and dry.

Heating systems in your home worsen the problem because they cause the air to absorb any form of moisture they can. Often, that means anybody in your home becomes the sufferer.

Low humidity in the winter creates:

Low humidity can also inflame and dry out the mucous membrane lining in your respiratory tract, which increases the risk of a cold, flu, and other infections.

The effects of low moisture can also take a toll on the items in your home. If the air in your home craves moisture, you may start to notice the splitting of wood floors or chipping of paint from your walls, which are two common locations that hold onto water vapor.

What happens if the humidity is too high in your home?

High humidity comes with a host of problems for your health and home as well.

With too much moisture in the air, you may notice:

Not only are these symptoms problematic to a homeowner because they will cost a pretty penny to repair, but they also come with another set of health issues to consider.

High humidity is the leading cause of mold and mildew growth in a home and can exacerbate — or create — asthma and allergy problems for your loved ones.

The Optimal Level of Humidity in Your Home (and How to Check It)

Too high, too low — what’s the right level? How do you know how much humidity is in your home?

To combat a home with too high or low humidity, keep your indoor humidity range between 40% and 60%.

There are a few ways you can check the level of humidity in your home:

How to Fix Low Humidity in Your Home

Not all homes’ HVAC systems have a form of built-in humidity control. If your system doesn’t, you’ll need to find a solution that helps balance the water vapor levels in your home.

A cheap, effective and quick fix is buying a portable humidifier. These can be purchased for under $50 and offer immediate relief for small, dry rooms.

If you need a fix for the entire area of your home, it may be best to invest in a whole-home humidifier. High-quality residential humidifiers connect directly to your home heating system and can control the humidity levels throughout the entire home.

Alternative options to a humidifier:

Keeping the water vapor levels consistent, and within the recommended range of 40% and 60% will keep you safe, comfortable and happy this winter season.

Looking for more tips to keep your home comfortable and efficient this winter? Check out these great resources:

home winter ready connecticutWinter is coming; is your house ready? We prepare ourselves for the winter by purchasing warmer clothes or installing snow tires on our vehicles, but many of us don’t think about preparing our homes as well.

Still, just like anything else, your house is affected by cold weather and snow. By working through this simple, nine-step home winterization checklist, you can help keep your home warm and safe while keeping your energy bills low.

Step 1: Check On Your Heating System

Your first order of business, when getting ready for the impending cold snap, is to ensure you’ll have heat when the chill arrives.

If you haven’t run your heating system in a while, turn it on to make sure everything is functioning correctly. Additionally, it’s wise to:

Step 2: Seal Drafty Windows and Doors

If you feel drafts in your home, your money could be going right out of the window – literally. Drafty windows and doors allow heated air to escape your home and cold air to enter it, which can increase your monthly heating bill by up to 25%.

To block drafts from coming through your windows and doors, consider adding the following material to door and window frames:

Some homeowners also use insulated curtains as extra reinforcement for window drafts.

If you’re unsure where the leaks are coming from, an energy audit can identify where leaks are occurring, and professionals can properly seal them in a matter of minutes.

Step 3: Winterize Your Air Conditioner

Have you taken proper measures to protect your air conditioner against the harsh winter?

Cleaning and covering the condensing unit staves off the damage that can be done by wet leaves and debris which can accelerate rusting or cause freezing in your AC unit’s internal components.

Protecting your equipment means that when warmer months come around, your AC will be functioning properly.

Step 4: Check Your Roof 

If your roof shows signs of aging, not only will your heating bills increase this winter, but you may also be prone to leaks and water damage that can set you back some serious cash in repairs.

To see if your roof is winter-ready, check for:

If anything looks awry, have repairs made immediately to secure your home for heavy snowfall.

Step 5: Replace Screen Windows and Doors

Take the time to remove all of the screen windows and doors in your house and replace them with storm windows and doors.

Besides adding a layer of insulation, and helping reduce air leaks, storm windows help protect your primary windows from winter elements, which screen windows would allow in.

Step 6: Test Your Generator

If the power goes out in the middle of winter, it’s critical to be prepared to protect your family and your home. Many Northeasterners invest in a generator for a backup power supply in case the storms get too intense.

Before winter strikes, test your equipment to make sure it’s functioning when you need it most. If you haven’t in a while, give your equipment routine maintenance.

For more tips, read six ways to maintain your generator. 

Step 7: Get Your Chimney, Fireplace and Flue Serviced

If your home has a fireplace, you should get your chimney inspected annually. In addition to the energy benefits it offers, it is crucial for your family’s safety. Every year, 25,000 homes across the country suffer from fires due to poor chimney maintenance.

As a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild, Santa Energy can clean your chimney and inspect it for potential obstructions. We also check the chimney draft to ensure the chimney will draw up the fire and smoke properly and inspect the brick inside your chimney for gaps and exposed walls that are susceptible to danger from rogue sparks.

Step 8: Protect Your Water Pipes

Protect your pipes from freezing this winter by insulating exposed piping, both inside and outside your home. Don’t overlook piping in your attic, basement, or crawl spaces that aren’t visible to you day-to-day.

To insulate the piping, wrap them with electrical heating tape first, then foam insulating sleeves (or more industrial material) to protect them from the winter weather.

If you plan to leave your home for the winter for an extended period of time, it’s always wise to consider shutting off your water altogether to avoid and costly mishaps from frozen pipes or water damage.

Additionally, if you have a sprinkler system at your home, make sure to also blow the water out of their pipes as well to reduce cracking in your system.

Step 9: Make Your Home Energy Efficient

There are several small adjustments you can make to your day-to-day habits and home upkeep that will decrease your energy bills, even more, this winter. For example:

For more recommendations to optimize your home’s energy, or for more winterization tips, consider the following resources:

home fuel options connecticut

(Photo by Gustavo Quepón on Unsplash)

Natural gas is one of the most popular energy sources in households today. In fact, according to the Energy Information Administration, more than 35 percent of Americans use natural gas as a source of fuel in their homes. Despite its popularity, not everyone is a fan. 

Actually, there are several drawbacks to natural gas, that have homeowners considering alternative fuel sources for their primary energy. For example:

To find a safer, more cost-effective and more environmentally-friendly fuel sources, homeowners are increasingly considering the following four types of fuel. 

What are natural gas alternatives?

1. Propane

The Cost of Propane

Propane, which comes from both natural gas processing and crude oil refining, is the most common alternative to natural gas. Propane is abundant, and also, when compared to natural gas, is a more cost-effective and efficient option. Even though consumers pay a higher price per unit for propane ($26.99 per gallon) than natural gas ($6.23 per cubic foot) by volume, one cubic foot of propane equals 2,516 BTUs, while one cubic foot of natural gas equals 1,030 BTUs. This means propane provides more than twice the energy of natural gas, which makes it a far less expensive alternative to natural gas because you get more for your buck. 

The Safety of Propane

Though propane is a flammable substance and should be handled carefully, it’s not common for propane tanks to explode. Propane tanks are rarely connected or used in gas pipelines, which make this energy source less risky than natural gas. In comparison, natural gas lines pose a greater threat to leaking and causing potentially deadly accidents. Take, for instance, the 2010 PG&E natural gas explosion in San Bruno, Ca that left eight people dead.

When to Use Propane

Just like natural gas, propane is best used for everyday appliances like:

Propane is also an excellent fuel source for outdoor cooking as die-hard barbequers prefer the taste of food cooked over a propane grill to one fueled by natural gas. 

If you’re looking for a cost-effective and familiar alternative to heat your everyday uses, propane is a good choice to replace natural gas.

2. Solar Energy

The Cost of Solar Energy

Many homeowners are hesitant to install solar in their home because the upfront costs feel extreme. At the time this article was written, the average nationwide solar panel cost is $3.05 per watt. And, the average solar panel system size in the U.S is around 6 kilowatts (6000 watts). That means outfitting a home with solar will cost about $18,300. Even with the 30 percent tax credit the U.S. government offers, homeowners can still expect to pay roughly $12,810 for new equipment. The installation costs are similar to installing a natural gas pipeline into your home. 

Safety of Solar Energy

Solar power is energy derived from the sun then is converted into electric or thermal energy. Because of this process, the Solar Energy Industries Association, claims it is one of cleanest and most bountiful renewable energy source available. And while solar is much more eco-friendly and safe than natural gas, it’s worth mentioning solar panels pose small safety hazards and risks for technicians constructing, installing, and maintaining the panels, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

When to Use Solar Energy

Solar energy is versatile in its many uses and is used to generate electricity, provide lighting, and water heating. However, if you have many utilities powered by gas, solar energy may not be your best alternative, as there is no gaseous form of solar power. 

Compared to natural gas, solar power is cleaner, safer, and cheaper and can be a great source of electricity. However, the upfront costs to install new equipment may deter many homeowners from converting to solar.

3. Biomass

The Cost of Biomass

Biomass is an attractive fuel source because it’s renewable and easy to grow. Still, even for an easily accessed fuel, when compared to natural gas, biomass is a bit more expensive for residential use. Small-scale biomass electric plants have calculated the cost of biomass energy can reach $0.15 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), whereas natural gas is around $0.12. Though the difference is pennies, the costs will add up over the year. For example, a single, 500-watt halogen lightbulb, that you use for .25 hours a day, every day will cost you roughly $6.84 per year with biomass $5.48 per year with natural gas. 

The Safety of Biomass

Biomass is a low carbon, low emission fuel, which is great for the environment. However, there have been concerns about biomass’ effect on human health. In 2016, numerous health organizations wrote a letter to Congress denoting that biomass negatively impacts human health, and contributes to asthma attacks, cancer, heart attacks, and poorer quality of health. The jury is still out on the overall safety of biomass, makes many homeowners reluctant to introduce it in their home. 

When to Use Biomass

If you are in search of a gaseous replacement for natural gas, biomass is an option. Specifically, biomass is a great alternative if you live in a rural area and it’s difficult to access natural gas or propane. Biomass can heat appliances and act as a portable cooking source if you’re a camper. Furthermore, biomass can also great for power generators and mechanical engines.

Depending on your geographic location, biomass may be a viable alternative for natural gas. However, its potential health risks may make it a riskier choice than other options on the market.

4. Wind Energy

The Cost of Wind Energy

For those with access to a company selling wind energy, the cost of this alternative fuel is unbeatable. The current price per kilowatt hour averages a mere $0.02, compared to natural gas’ $6.23 per unit price. However, if you’re unable to purchase energy from a company, you’ll need a wind turbine that converts 100 kilowatts of energy to power your home, and that’s an expensive investment. Specifically, the initial cost and preparation of installing wind turbines can range from $50,000 to $80,000. Not to mention the space required to house such a large piece of equipment.

The Safety of Wind Energy

Wind energy is a clean and renewable energy source. It does not pollute toxins into the air or contribute to greenhouse gases as natural gas does. However, like solar energy, wind turbines do pose a safety threat to maintenance and installation workers. Wind turbines also have led to the increase in bird and bat deaths due to the aerial space they occupy, which has pushed some groups to work toward the creation of ‘no-blade’ turbines

When to Use Wind Energy

Wind energy is versatile and can produce both mechanical energy and electricity. That means, it’s great for all aspects of residential and commercial energy — from heating and cooling to everyday appliances. 

When it comes to wind energy, if you have access to an energy company that provides the resource, or space, money, and proper climate to install your own wind turbines, it could have huge returns on your investment.

Other alternative fuels are on the horizon as well. For instance, syngas, which is typically reserved gas-fueled engines and generators, has started to become a viable replacement for the generation of heat and power on a small scale. Though the cost of syngas directly correlates to the prices of natural gas, it could eventually become a cost-effective way for homeowners to fuel their appliances. 

At the end of the day, the alternate fuel you select will depend on your preferences and accessibility to new options. 

When it comes to entertaining guests or gathering your family together, nothing feels cozier than nestling around an outdoor kitchen. And, by building one on your own, you can not only make that dream come true but also save a boatload of money.

If you’re researching DIY outdoor kitchen spaces, here are the three ‘F’s’ for you to consider: Frame, finish and fuel.

Start With the Frame

When building a DIY outdoor kitchen, you’ll start with the frame. Before determining the type of structure you want to build, consider the durability of the materials, what level of difficulty the material is to work with, the tools you’ll need for proper assembly, and the overall cost for a frame.  

Here are three different options for frames, and the benefits and drawbacks of each of them.

Wood Frame

Benefits of Using a Wood Frame

Wood is the most cost-effective framing option (at least initially, more on this later). Pressure-treated pine is the most common option for outdoor kitchens. This option ranges in price from $3-$10 per square foot, depending on the quality and your geographic location.

Wood is also easy to work with, which means a frame can be assembled by someone with little to no building experience. Lastly, it’s simple to add backing to a wood frame, allowing you to add accent designs and finishes, like stone, tile or granite to get the final look you want.

Disadvantages of Using a Wood Frame

Keep in mind, wood is meant to burn. That means, if you use wood for your DIY outdoor kitchen, you’ll need to add fire resistant coating and an insulated jacket to decrease the risk of fire. Though wood is inexpensive upfront, the upkeep can become costly. Wood is more susceptible to damage. To start, bugs and insects can eat away at the wood. Mother Nature can be rough on wood, too. Without the proper coating, wood can rot, making for a less stable outdoor kitchen over the years.

Brick Frame

Benefits of Using a Brick Frame

Brick is a classic look, made from durable material, and is one of the most popular styles for an outdoor kitchen. Because brick is a timeless style, you don’t need to add materials to make the outer-facing wall more attractive, the framing can blend nicely into the beautiful exterior. Unlike wood, brick is weather and fire resistant, making it a safer long-term investment.

Disadvantages of Using a Brick Frame

Because it’s quality material, you can expect to pay more for brick than wood (ranging between $1-7 per square foot). To assemble a brick frame, you’ll also need more tools than if you worked with wood. For example, a trowel and level will be required to build your kitchen. As you might guess, brick and cinder blocks are more complicated to work with than wood, which means you’ll need some experience to assemble a frame with these materials.

Steel Frame

Benefits of Using a Steel Frame

Steel is one of the most durable materials you can use for a DIY outdoor kitchen as it can hold up against a wide range of weather elements. Because steel is an incredibly sturdy material, you can do more with less. In other words, when designed correctly, a steel frame can provide the support you need with a minimal amount of material for the frame.  Steel ranges from $67 – $95 per square foot, which seems expensive, but because you can use less of it to build, it can be a cost-effective method for building, especially compared to brick.

Additionally, steel is renewable and recyclable, making it an eco-friendly material.

Disadvantages of Using a Steel Frame

Unfortunately, working with steel is not for beginners. Of all the materials listed above, steel is the most difficult to work with. To assemble, you’ll need to rivet and bolt the material to a concrete slab, which requires both expertise and specialized tools. Finally, if you live in a humid area, steel can get very moist and will eventually corrode, so you’ll also need to add special coatings of anti-corrosives during construction.

Materials for a Beautiful Finish

After completing your frame, it’s time to select finishes. If you use a wooden frame, it’s wise to add water-and-mold-resistant concrete boards to the frame to support the structure and also provides you a foundation to add decorative panels like stucco, tile, and stone.

But, regardless of your frame, here are some of the most popular finishes for well-designed DIY outdoor kitchens.

Granite Finish

Granite is an excellent option for a sleek contemporary finish and goes well with wood. However, it’s important to note that granite is more prone to staining than the other finishing options listed below.

Price Range: $45 – $200 per square foot

Stainless Steel Finish

Stainless steel is known for its durability, which means your outdoor kitchen will last a long time. And, stainless steel is easy to clean and maintain.

Price Range: $67 – $95 per square foot

Stucco Finish

Stucco is a great option for a finish because it’s inexpensive, naturally resistant to fire, and is a durable material that requires little maintenance. However, if you live in a particularly wet climate, moisture can be a problem for stucco.

Price Range: $6 – $9 per square foot

Stone Finish

Stone looks great on an outdoor kitchen because it easily blends into the natural elements surrounding your home. However, stone can be challenging to work with, so if you want a stone finish in your outdoor kitchen, it might be best to work with a professional. While real stone veneers can be pricey, manufactured stone is a great alternative as it looks the same, but can be purchased at a fraction of the cost.

Price Range: $12-$ 17 per square foot

Tile Finish

Tile is a nice choice for crafty DIYers who want a wide variety of colors and style to play with. However, tiles are fragile, so you might think twice about adorning your outdoor kitchen with this material if you live in an area will extreme climate switches.

Price Range: $2-$7 per square foot

Concrete Finish

Concrete is a great way to add a modern finish to your outdoor kitchen. It’s cost-effective and visually appealing but will require a bit of extra maintenance. Concrete should be sealed and resealed annually to prevent cracking.

Price Range: $1-$2 per square foot

Add Fuel to Your Outdoor Kitchen

Once your frame has been built, and finishes have been added, you’ll need to add fuel to your outdoor kitchen. The most comprehensive fueling options for outdoor kitchens are natural gas and propane.

Though both fuels are eco-friendly, propane has a few benefits you should consider:

Not to mention, die-hard grillers know that a propane grill makes for a better taste to your food as well.

Putting Your Research to Action

Are you ready to start building? Here are some great resources we’ve found to help you get started:

propane tank lifespan connecticut

(Photo/Unsplash)

Not having enough propane on hand can be both a burden and a danger. From running out of fuel during the middle of a cookout to not having heating oil on a cold winter’s night, it’s important to know the specifics of propane tank maintenance, how quickly the fuel burns, and how to tell if you’re running low on fuel.

What are the most common propane tank sizes?

Residential propane tanks range in size from 100-1,000 gallons. Smaller tanks, like 20-pound tanks, are sold for modest needs like outdoor barbecuing or small appliances like fireplaces.

Homes 2,500 square feet or larger, that have multiple appliances running on propane, will most likely use a 500-gallon tank. Propane tanks any larger than 500-gallons are often reserved for commercial use.

What are some common uses for propane?

How you put your propane to use will play a role in how long your fuel source will last.  Consider the most common uses for propane:

Grilling

As mentioned above, 20-pound propane tanks are used for modest tasks like cooking individual meals. As a rule of thumb, one tank of propane will typically last between 18-20 hours if you’re grilling on a medium-sized grill. Whereas larger grills can burn through 20-pounds of propane in as little as 10 hours.

On average, you’ll use one or two pounds of fuel per meal if you use a medium-sized grill on high heat. That equals roughly 8 grilling sessions per tank.

Furnaces

British Thermal Unit, or BTUs, is the industry standard used to measure the heating efficiency of household appliances. The average home furnace runs on roughly 100,000 BTUs, and one gallon of propane equals 92,000 BTUs. That means the average home furnace burns roughly one gallon of propane per hour.

In this example, a home furnace will burn anywhere from 500-1,200 gallons of propane per year, depending on how often you turn on your furnace.

Hot Water Heaters

Your hot water heater usage will vary based on how many bathrooms you have in your home, and how many people are in and out of your home. As a rule of thumb, the average home uses about 1.5 gallons of propane a day for typical hot water heating use.

The average homeowner can expect to use somewhere between 200-300 gallons of propane per year for hot water.

Overall, the average homeowner will use roughly 2.5, 500-gallon tanks of propane each year for home heating and cooking.

How to Calculate Your Burn Rate

For even more customized calculations, you can follow the steps below:

  1. First, find how much your physical tank weighs. This measurement, also known as the tare weight, should be indicated on the tank itself.
  2. Subtract the tare weight from the total weight of your tank (with fuel inside).
  3. Then, divide the total weight of your tank by 4.24. (4.24 pounds of propane = one gallon, and makes for easier conversion moving forward.)
  4. If you have a propane grill that burns at a rate of 60,000 BTU per hour, that’s the same as saying it will take 1.53 hours to burn 1 gallon of propane. (92,000 BTUs for one gallon of propane/60,000 the burn rate of the appliance = 1.53 hours)
  5. Divide the total gallons of your tank by the hourly burn rate of your appliance to see how many hours of fuel you have left.
  6. By repeating this process, you can see how varied appliances, with different BTU rates, will burn fuel.

As you can see, the calculation is slightly complex so it might be wise to consult with a professional if you need assistance.

When should you order more propane?

Propane doesn’t expire. So, with its long shelf-life, the only reason you’ll need to order more propane is when you’re running low. Unless your propane delivery service provider monitors your fuel level and delivers to you automatically, you’ll need to learn how to read the gauge on your propane tank.

The most important number to know when reading your gauge is the fuel level. It should never be more than 80% full. The reason is thermal expansion. Keeping your tank filled less than 100% ensures the fuel in your tank can expand with no risk to the tank or your safety.

Once your gauge reads 20%, it’s time to reorder your supply of propane.

Here is a quick video to help you read the gauge on your propane tank:

How long do propane tanks last and can you prolong the lifespan?

Large stationary propane tanks need to be recertified 10 years after their date of manufacture and every five years following that. But, as long as your above or underground propane tank was installed correctly and you perform proper maintenance on the tank, and connected appliances, your propane tank will remain suitable for use for decades.

Here’s a quick maintenance checklist:

Getting Your Propane Fix

Santa is known for its reliable delivery and exceptional customer service in Fairfield and New Haven Counties in Connecticut. Santa also offers automatic propane delivery, which means we’ll track the levels of your fuel and send out a new delivery before your supply runs out.

Get propane delivered to your door before it runs out.

propane tanks connecticut

Above-ground, residential propane tank

When it comes to above-ground and underground propane tanks many homeowners initially think of looks; to them, an above-ground tank can be an eyesore. However, when it comes to deciding whether an above or underground propane tank is best for your home, there are several factors to consider apart from sheer aesthetics.

Specifically, the differences between cost, installation, and safety should be a priority for homeowners. Consider the following as you make your decision.

What You Need to Know About Above-ground Propane Tanks

Overall Cost

For an above-ground tank, the majority of the cost is in the purchase of the tank itself. And, the price of a propane tank will vary depending on how many gallons you’d like it to hold.

As you can imagine, the larger the tank you select, the more it will cost. However, with an above-ground tank, there are fewer costs associated with installation than its underground counterpart. Additionally, because of the accessibility of an above-ground tank, on-going maintenance will also be a bit cheaper.

Installation Process

Before installing an above-ground propane tank, you must check off a few administrative items first. For instance, ensuring distance requirements have been met and necessary permits have been obtained are critical steps. Additionally, it may be necessary to lay a concrete pad or concrete blocks for the stability of the tank.

These items are routine and fairly easy to knock off the list before installation. Better yet, a reputable propane company can do the legwork for you.

Watch how simple it is to install an above-ground propane tank.

Safety of the Tank

The safety of an above-ground tank versus an underground tank will boil down to the geographic location in most cases. While above-ground tanks are more exposed and vulnerable to extreme climates, making them less durable during severe conditions, if you’re in an area prone to flooding, an above-ground tank is usually the safer option.

That’s because an underground tank can actually float away from your home if the water rises above the propane level in your tank. An above-ground tank stands a few inches off the ground and is bolted down at the feet, making it more stable and less exposed during flooding conditions.

Additional factors might include its susceptibility to humans. Above-ground tanks can be targets for vandalism. Furthermore, if you’re located near a road, an above-ground tank may also be vulnerable to vehicle collisions.

What You Need to Know About Underground Propane Tanks

Overall Cost

Whether you select an above-ground or underground option, the physical tank will cost the same. However, an underground tank will be costlier upfront due to the extra expenses for:

These special requirements to install an underground tank can roughly double the cost of the installation of an above-ground propane tank.

Further, underground tanks can be costlier to maintain. Underground propane tanks require an anti-corrosion coating to protect against underground elements that could damage the outer material. To ensure the coating is working correctly, it must be inspected and tested on a regular basis. And, if the anti-corrosion coating has been compromised, it will need to be replaced. These maintenance measures will come at an additional cost to the homeowner.

Installation Process

Similar to an above-ground tank, it’s critical to have the proper permits, arrangements and safety checks conducted before starting excavation. Once excavation has started, the process of installing an underground propane tank will take between 2-3 hours.

If your home has a septic tank, you may need to contact your septic company to dig the hole for the underground propane tank. Without coordination, it’s possible that the propane delivery equipment will run over the septic tank, which can cause costly damages.

Watch this video to see what the installation process for an underground tank looks like:

Safety of the Tank

Generally, underground tanks are safer than above-ground tanks. One reason is that it’s easier for these tanks to stay temperate in extreme weather, especially in the freezing cold.

Underground tanks are also safer in the event of a leak. Propane is a green fuel, so if a leak were to occur, rest assured it would not harm the local water or soil. Unlike an above-ground tank, there is no chance for the fuel to escape into the air, causing a fire hazard.

Therefore, depending on your weather conditions, an underground tank is a safer bet. The exception to this rule is in areas at risk of flooding, where above-ground tanks are preferred.

Which type of propane tank makes sense for you?

As you can see there are advantages and disadvantages of both above-ground and underground propane tanks. For aesthetics and safety, underground tanks most often take the cake. However, if you’re on a tight budget, or live in a flood-prone area, an above-ground tank may be more practical.

Whether you decide on an above-ground or underground propane tank, make sure you choose the right energy company to partner with for support while selecting, delivery, and maintaining your equipment.

Learn more about bringing propane to your home.

The differences between natural gas and propane can be confusing. Especially because propane is one of the fuels that make up natural gas, the other fuels being butane, methane, ethane.

While propane is a part of natural gas, it becomes a unique source of fuel on its own when it’s separated during processing. So, let’s take a look at both fuels. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each, and which is best for a homeowner to use?

Head-to-Head Comparison: Pros and Cons of Propane and Natural Gas

When selecting a fuel for your home, it’s important to weigh its safety, the cost, how efficient the fuel is, and what the environmental impact is. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about the advantages and disadvantages of natural gas and propane, for each of the aforementioned considerations.

Safety

Both fuels are highly flammable and should be handled with care. But due to the infrastructure (and bureaucratic red tape) that comes with natural gas lines, leaks can be challenging to identify and fix. This is because utility companies and the public utility commission need to come to an understanding of how to fund repairs or upgrades before taking action.

And, when lines go unattended accidents happen.

For instance, in 2010 a natural gas line owned by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) exploded in San Bruno, Calif., killing eight people. After investigation, it was learned that the gas line was faulty, and PG&E was previously unaware of the line’s damage. 

Though propane tanks can also explode, it’s much less likely. And, because propane tanks aren’t connected by wide-spread gas lines, the impact is less significant. 

Furthermore, though some companies that supply natural gas add a scent like sulfur so that you can more easily detect a leak, natural gas leaks can be harder to detect because in its natural state the fuel is odorless. 

Due to the severity of a mishap, as rare as they may be, propane is deemed a safer heating fuel.

Environment

Even though natural gas is considered a greenhouse gas, it burns roughly 50% fewer emissions than coal. Still, it’s toxicity is higher than propane, which is not toxic or damaging to the environment. If propane were to leak into the ground, it would not harm the local water or soil.

That said, both are still considered eco-friendly fuels. But, for this round, we give propane a slight advantage as a green fuel.

Cost and Efficiency

The true cost of propane vs. natural gas for your residence will depend on several factors, including if your home is outfitted for the fuels. But, for this comparison, we’ll examine propane and natural gas cost in terms of BTUs and gallons.

At the time this article was written, the average cost of natural gas cost is $6.23 per 1,000 cubic feet, which is roughly one million BTUs. The U.S. average cost for propane is $2.41 per gallon. One million BTUs of natural gas is roughly 11.20 gallons of propane. Which means for the same amount of fuel, you’ll pay $6.23 for natural gas and $26.99 for propane.

However, actual cost should also take into consideration efficiency

The more efficient the fuel is, the less you’ll use, which plays a role in overall cost. And, overall, propane is the more efficient fuel.

One cubic foot of propane equals 2,516 BTUs, while one cubic foot of natural gas equals 1,030 BTUs. That means, propane is more than twice the energy of natural gas.

While the cost per gallon is less for natural gas, you’ll use more of it to heat the same appliances. If you get two times the heat from propane, naturally, you’ll use less fuel.

In this combined round, propane wins for efficiency and overall cost.

Installation

Key Differences Between Propane and Natural Gas

The most notable difference between the two fuels is how they wind up at your home, that is, how they’re delivered to you. To start, not every location in the United States has the option of either propane or natural gas. Depending on where you live, you may be restricted to only one option.

Additionally, how the fuel is stored at your home, and refilled, will be another differentiating factor.

Natural gas remains in its gaseous state and is delivered to the home through a pipeline, so deliveries aren’t required, but having the infrastructure in place to receive the fuel is. This infrastructure might include costs like:

These costs can rise to more than $10,000 for homeowners who need a complete conversion.

Propane comes in portable canisters or permanent storage tanks. To refill, customers will either go to a retail location themselves or turn to a company for delivery. For Santa Fuel customers, you can schedule automatic deliveries so that you’ll have fuel before your tank runs out, eliminating the hassle.

Which gas is right for you?

Propane

Because propane delivers more BTUs for your dollar, it’s often the choice fuel to run your home appliances more efficiently. It’s also typically better for cooking, especially if you utilize an outdoor barbeque, as it’s more cost-effective for high-heat grilling.

Additionally, propane is seen as an “off-the-grid” heating solution. Meaning propane is portable and can easily work if other systems in your house malfunction, or if you need to move to another location.  

Natural gas

Natural gas, on the other hand, is a hands-off solution. You’ll never need to schedule a delivery because natural gas will always be flowing to your home. And, you’ll never pay for more than what you use with natural gas because there isn’t any fuel stored in a tank. You pay as you go.

If you’re already equipped with the infrastructure, it makes sense to stick with natural gas.  

The ultimate winner will be whichever fits best into your lifestyle and current set up. Are you able to access both fuels, how much infrastructure would you need to implement to get either of the fuels and what do you plan to use your fuel for most?

Where to buy propane and natural gas?

If you’re in the Fairfield or New Haven areas in Connecticut, Santa Energy can help you assess which fuel makes the most sense for your home. Santa Energy is a dependable source for fuel delivery, equipment installation, maintenance, and ongoing support to ensure your home is maximizing energy, safely.

Check out our complete suite of propane and natural gas services.