|propane tanks below my solar collectors|
While propane is a fossil fuel, in the grand scheme of things it is one of the cleaner fossil fuels and is also relatively benign. I found this webpage promoting propane that offers the following bullet list:
- Propane is not considered a greenhouse gas.
- Propane is not damaging to freshwater or saltwater ecosystems, underwater plant or marine life.
- Propane is not harmful to soil if spilled on the ground. Propane will not cause harm to drinking water supplies.
- Propane vapor will not cause air pollution. Propane vapor is not considered air pollution.
- Propane vapor is not harmful if accidentally inhaled by birds, animals or people.
- Propane will only cause bodily harm if liquid propane comes in contact with skin (boiling point -44°F).
|propane statistics for our home|
In my workshop, I have dramatically reduced my propane use - largely by burning wood that I cut on my own property:
|workshop propane usage - reduced by using solar and firewood|
Many of my neighbors have traditionally heated their homes exclusively with firewood. Two neighbors in particular have added supplementary propane heat over the last five or six years. One of them rationalized it because he did not want to worry about freezing pipes in his house if he needed to leave it for more than a few days in the dead of winter when temperatures dip below 0°F frequently. Another neighbor added an in-law suite that was at the far end of his home from the wood stove and elected to put in a propane heater rather than another wood stove. Unfortunately, propane heaters require electricity to operate so if the power does fail as it often does during winter storms one is still without backup or emergency heat. This makes a wood stove and/or a propane fired backup generator an important asset.
I have come to accept propane as a necessary evil. I remember a quote from an author writing for Home Power magazine in which he stated: "propane is the dirty little secret of off grid living". And that has stuck with me as a way of focusing my consciousness around this relatively benign fossil fuel.